Happy Halloween! It’s that time of the year when people assume our clothes are costumes and our hair is fake, playing in a graveyard isn’t so strange, and we blend in on the streets next to senators and lobbyists. But it’s all the more reason to party until sunrise and forget about your diet.
The music of All Hollows Eve is often limited to campy Monster Mash derivatives and commercial jingles, unfortunately. But here is a list of albums from our scene that not only fit the Samhain festivities but are also high works of art that left bloody imprints on the Gothic subculture. If there’s an album listed here that you have yet to hear, now is the perfect chance to break your virginity. Enjoy.
The Damned – Phantasmagoria
The Damned’s full transition to the unabashed theatrics and drama of the Gothic. Replete with piano, horns, and Dave Vanian’s deep baritone, Phantasmagoria is the Phantom of the Opera of gothic rock and a perfect complement to all-night Samhain outings both festive and gloomy. It’s gothic overtones are enough to fade your clothes to black, ignite candles about the halls, and send bats into frenzies.
45 Grave – Sleep in Safety
No cultured Goth could go through his or her dark existence without hearing “Party Time” at least once, partly in thanks to its usage in Return of the Living Dead. But 45 Graveoffer a smattering of deathrock goodies both menacing and infectious on their debut album Sleep in Safety, far beyond the zombified hit. Dinah Cancer’s howling wolf yell and the punkish guitars make Sleep in Safety a fitting complement to any and all parties on All Hollows Eve.
The Cramps – Songs the Lord Taught Us
Songs titles like “I Was a Teenage Werewolf” and “Zombie Dance” beg the implication of certain seasonal leanings, but the low-fi punk and deep psychotic ramblings of Lux Interior and co. make Songs the Lord Taught Us an explosive introduction for The Cramps and a high-adrenaline burn through the witching hour. Smarmy and demented yet groovy and cool, this album conjures images of latex-clad boys and girls playing beach volleyball under a full moon.
Siouxsie and the Banshees – Juju
Setting aside the track titled “Halloween,” Siouxsie Sioux’s most celebrate album succeeds in evoking moonlit forests and gypsy punks on tirades through deserts. The rough and dry production with Siouxsie’s trademark moaning wail provide a tapestry on which lies songs about possession, voyeurism, severed heads, and submission.
Type O Negative – October Rust
Step aside, Misfits. Type O Negative’s fuzzy, throbbing bass, devilishly romantic keys, and the profoundly deep croon of frontman Peter Steele is enough to lay waste to entire hordes of party goers and Halloween enthusiasts. The tongue-in-cheek subtlies, a Type O staple, are almost crushed to death by the remarkably grim tales depicted in “Red Water “Christmas Mourning” and the ten-minute run of the overwhelming “Haunted.” But tracks such as “My Girlfriend’s Girlfriend” and “Wolf Moon (Including Zoanthropic Paranoia)” inject just the right amount of fun to keep moods at equilibrium. Just don’t get too comfortable before Peter Steele’s canyon-deep croon breaks the chatter.
Alien Sex Fiend – Acid Bath
Laugh, cry, scream, go crazy. Alien Sex Fiend’s b-horror film gleefulness became one of the blueprints for many deathrock acts to come. Added to a spooky and ghoulish atmosphere to tinge tracks about drug addiction and insanity, Nik fiend’s bark is a whisky-scented candle burning through nights spent in dirty clubs and seedy hotel rooms. It might find its way to your party as well.
Christian Death – Only Theatre of Pain
No Halloween celebration is complete without a little blasphemy. Or a lot, assuming you have the stomach for the sardonic and poetically scornful condemnation that is Only Theatre of Pain, the landmark album that put Rozz Williams and the entire deathrock genre on the map. Attempts at sacrilege by contemporary metal bands are rendered laughable by “Spiritual Cramp” and “Cavity – First Communion.” The androgynous shriek of Williams and the muffled creepy-crawly shimmers of the guitars and rhythms are enough to chill the bones and put out candles, but the artful depictions of religious desecration through its 40-minute runtime asserts Only Theatre of Pain as an essential listening experience. What better day to enter its world than Halloween?
Mephisto Walz – The Eternal Deep
Take a trip on the deep side. Mephisto Walz tones down the campiness and fun for a morbid yet poetic excursion into the nitty gritty of deathrock’s darkest chambers. Christianna Leonard’s voice is a death-kissed wind gliding across cemeteries and over the tops of tombstones, matching the swirling dreams of the guitar patchworks. The macabre melodies are buried under a dense and hazy production like embalming fluid and burial dirt, most prominent on numbers like “Dear Familiar Phantoms” and “Silent Thunder.” The Eternal Deep is for morose souls who are still hoping to party.
Faith and the Muse – Evidence of Heaven
Immeasurable fury and hushed drama like no other, Faith and the Muse’s third album, Evidence of Heaven, is the apex of Goth music meant to inspire awe and unbearable despair. The play among punk, piano ballads, medieval twists, and whispered creeps of voices touches all aspects of our miserable genre while keeping them all confined to a haunted mansion set against an 1800s backdrop in Transylvania. Monica Richards’s hair-raising cry is an ancient siren waging war across weathered lands, accentuating the pummeling haunts of “Scars Flown Proud” and “Plague Dance” and gently underlining the slow washes of “Importune Me No More” and “Patience Worth.” Evidence of Heaven’s profoundly Gothic atmosphere is still constrained with a modesty that few bands in the genre will ever achieve.
The Birthday Massacre – Violet
The Birthday Massacre’s unmistakable synth-rock charred with a murderous impulse runs rampant through their second outing, Violet. Gargling with club-heavy dance beats and wall-of-sound guitars, Violet’s doomy melodies have just the right symmetry of deranged tales of slaughtering friends and being bullied doused with the soothing charm of Chibi’s vocals. “Horror Show,” “Happy Birthday” and “Blue” should fit right alongside your archetypal Halloween tunes, and they should also grossly overshadow them.
Skinny Puppy – Mind: The Perpetual Intercourse
Should your fiesta start becoming a little weird and unpredictable, Skinny Puppy has the perfect soundtrack. Mind: The Perpetual Intercourse is a beat-heavy trip to the raspy whispers and fragmented experimentations that made OhGr and the gang such a force to be reckoned with in the early days of industrial music. Taking clips from The Exorcist and other horror films, Mind is for partygoers who want something jarring and uncomfortable, disgusting and fascinating. The walls of synths and unidentifiable sounds are nightmares painted across the dreamscapes of rough percussion and the always-insufferable vocals. Not one to be skipped over.