The combination of Halloween and heavy metal is a beautiful match made in hell. And putting the two together is a no-brainer. Musicians have found endless inspiration from All Hallows Eve's dark imagery, so to help celebrate the ancient holiday, Noisecreep has put together a list of the top 10 metal Halloween songs. So sit back, turn off the lights and let these tracks get you in the mood.
'Halloween' from 'Keeper of the Seven Keys, Pt. One' (1987)
Inspired by songs like Iron Maiden's 'Rime of the Ancient Mariner,' Helloween wrote and recorded their 13-minute-plus 'Halloween.' Although it has become a rock journalist's cliché, the word "epic" fits the track better than anything else we could conjure up. Michael Kiske's soaring vocals are the icing on the cake, but it's Kai Hansen and Michael Weikath's triumphant guitar runs that remain the victors here.
OK, so the Misfits aren't exactly metal, but their influence on bands like Metallica can't be denied. On Halloween day 1981, the suburban New Jersey troublemakers released the 'Halloween' single, and the song's impact is still felt. All these years later, there's still something creepy about Glenn Danzig's vocal performance and Bobby Steele's slightly out of tune guitar riffs. The song still deserves a spot on any Oct. 31-themed mix tape.
Everything about Kim Peterson reeks of this holiday. Better known under his nom-de-plume of King Diamond, All Hallows' Eve is the perfect backdrop for the Danish kingpin's grisly brand of metal. 'Halloween' is lifted off the Mercyful Fate singer's debut solo album, 'Fatal Portrait,' and has a hard-rock feel in its hooky vocals and locomotive rhythm, but the words are what get it on this list.
'Left Hand Path,' the opening track from Entombed's debut album of the same name, introduced most of the metal world to the band's dirty brand of death metal. Few acts have done horror-fueled songwriting better. At one point in the song, the band even breaks into Fred Myrow's theme song to the cult classic horror movie 'Phantasm.' To hear the down-tuned guitars play the main refrain is a Fangoria-worthy delight.
'Welcome to My Nightmare' from 'Welcome to My Nightmare' (1975)
To some younger Noisecreep readers, Alice Cooper might just be some old dude who plays golf a lot who "used to be a singer or something." But during the '70s, Cooper was the undisputed king of shock rock. The title track from 'Welcome to My Nightmare' is like a 5:19 audio version of one of those classic Hammer Films horror movies from the UK.
With three simple notes, Tony Iommi created something creepier than anything George Romero or Thomas Harris could ever cook up. The Birmingham, England combo would never craft anything else as stark and sinister as 'Black Sabbath,' but you could still hear the song's influence on later doom bands like Candlemass.
'Dead Skin Mask' from 'Seasons in the Abyss' (1990)
Serial killer Ed Gein inspired this little piece of hell. The eerie guitar riff trade-offs in the intro set the mood, and Tom Araya's monotone vocals help seal the deal. But there's one section in the song that takes it to another level of depravity: Toward the track's conclusion, a little girl's voice appears pleading for mercy. Here we are 20 years later, and 'Dead Skin Mask' sounds as bloodcurdling as it did when it first appeared in your local mall.
'Progenies of the Great Apocalypse' from 'Death Cult Armageddon' (2003)
This harmonious black mass of guitars, keyboards, drums and vocals finds Dimmu Borgir creatively firing on all cylinders. Shagrath's singing makes it sound as if his throat was sliced up by a million rusty scalpels yet there is an odd beauty to the way they come together with the band's wicked instrumentation. Here we have a symphonic black metal tour de force that should be on any Halloween playlist.
No one can write a metal epic quite like Steve Harris. This stunner is one of the English troubadour's most sinister moments. Clocking in at over seven minutes, 'Fear of the Dark' has gone on to become a highlight of Maiden's live shows in recent years. Harris is a history junkie and his songwriting has always reflected that, but 'Fear of the Dark' is more John Carpenter than it is Ken Burns..
Trey Azagthoth's guitar tone alone could star in its own horror movie. Its strained and haunted dissonance has always been the focal point of Morbid Angel's celebrated recording output. On 'God of Emptiness,' Azagthoth's main guitar riff sounds like a creeping gargoyle, while David Vincent's vocals evoke images of terror and suffering. They've certainly made a name for themselves through their faster material, but this slow burner is their most ghoulish-sounding single.