31.10.11

Words by: Ruth Saxelby

11 scary songs

While Goblin, John Carpenter and Thriller are go-to’s this time of year, we’ve put together a few of our favourites for a seriously disturbed night in. Happy Halloween!

Bauhaus Bela Lugosi’s Dead

Goth rockers Bauhaus announced their arrival in 1979 with this sparse, dubby, ahead-of-its-time single that still makes for a thrilling listen. Named after the Hungarian Dracula actor, it went on to be used for cult vampire movie The Hunger in 1983, with Bauhaus playing a band in the film.

Gatekeeper Chains

“Hell was what he wanted, and hell was what he got,“gasps the female vocal on this pounding standout from New York duo Gatekeeper’s ‘Giza’ EP released late last year. The spook-factor of Chains is that of the grand old B-movie tradition: dark, racy and theatrically camp. Or, in their own words, it’s an “endless night ride through the depths of a CG hell-scape”.

Jeff Mills The Bells

Detroit techno legend Jeff Mills is the master of disturbing rhythms. His early career was forged on channelling the starkness and intense alienation of industrial inner city life into hyper-mechanised, escapist fantasies to soundtrack all-night techno parties. Released in 1997, The Bells scatters horror movie chords over a pounding tribal rhythm, manifesting itself as a burning, bubbling kind of scary.

Shackleton Death Is Not Final

Steve – Kode9 – Goodman has written at length on the dread-inducing capabilities of bass frequencies, but for me, it’s the mix of camp iconography (I mean, check out that artwork), tribal dubstep and blasted heath textures that make Shakleton and Appleblim Skull Disco tracks so hilariously uneasy. There’s very few songs that couldn’t happily appear on this list from the Soundboy Punishments CD, but Death is Not Final, incorporates those ideas of menacing chants, machine violence and overwhelming terror perfectly.

Clipse & Roscoe P Coldchain _Chinese New Year

Rap’s flirtation with horror runs from the student union classic work of Gravediggaz to the ski-mask horrorcore of Tyler, The Creator, but it’s rarely been as sonically unnerving as Clipse’s 2006 love-letter to home invasion. Pharell’s ornamentally horrifying beat to Pusha T’s “I’m at your door, your eyes are like ‘Why are you here?’ / Judging by my steel I’ve got something to do here’. While not in the slightest bit supernatural, it’s as difficult to hear as ‘Funny Games’ and ‘Straw Dogs’ are difficult to watch.

Light Asylum Dark Allies

White lilies, a funeral home staple, burn in the opening frames of the video to Brooklyn synth-pop duo Light Asylum’s most epic moment yet, Dark Allies. “She whispered to me, come closer, come closer…” growls Shannon Funchess, affirming herself as one of today’s most bewitching, powerful frontwomen – both on record and in this awesome video that plays on sacrificial symbolism.

Japan Ghosts

There’s a tone to David Sylvian’s voice that cuts, a heaviness that hints at some infinite well of sorrow – no more so than on Japan’s 1982 hit Ghosts. Eerie synths and swathes of haunting space make this a chilling yet addictive listen, time and time again.

Salem Till The World Ends

Another Halloween pick-a-song-any-song artist of recent times is Salem. While they’ve made more obviously ooh-scary tracks than their remix of Britney Spears’s Till The World Ends, this drag’d epic uncovers today’s horror-in-plain-sight of endless war, industrialised sex and the most unspeakably sad popstar ever is gut-wrenching.

Burzum Dunkelheit

While his politics and actions may be beyond reprehensible, music does not get more extreme than this. Burzum’s rare track Dunkelheit bristles and echoes with primordial horror, a hymn to evil things lurking in the roots of trees and swampish slime. A convicted murderer and occult fanatic with documented flirtations with Nazism was never going to make un-frightening music, but this track’s glowering melody and sheer vastness makes it a shoe-in.

Bobby “Boris” Pickett _The Monster Mash

The most untouchable Halloween song of all time, it sums up the pure silliness of the season and – thanks to Lynch and all that hauntological ghostliness-of-the-past gumf – imbued with a new creepiness.

Death In June _The Torture Garden

Torture Garden, named after the Octave Mirbeau book (also quoted on Manic Street Preacher’s The Holy Bible’s inlay) is a classic track, set here to Ingmar Bergman’s Seventh Seal. Death In June’s often desperate urge to shock places them far beyond the realms of taste and has robbed them of the audience they deserve, but this track, filled with catholic dirges, glowering synths, and delicate chimes is a night-closer for any Halloween.