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Top 10 Punk Rock Albums With A Touch of Horror

Whether you’re putting together a soundtrack for a Halloween party or simply listening to music on your way to a horror flick, here are some great recommendations for those of us who like our punk rock with a dash of the horrific.

The following albums cover a span of genres of punk, but they all have one thing in common: a dark side. Whether you’re looking for a hint of eeriness or a full-blown gorefest, there’s surely an album on this list that will help you make every day Halloween.

1. Various Artists – ‘Halloween Hootenanny’

This album features a collection of horror-themed songs personally selected by Rob Zombie. But if you’re expecting something hard and heavy like White Zombie, you’re picking the wrong album.

Halloween Hootenanny is an album that predominantly consists of well-known rockabilly, surf and garage bands, including such big names as Reverend Horton Heat, Deadbolt and Rocket From The Crypt. There’s even a cover of “The Munster’s Theme” by Los Straitjackets and a surf song from Zombie himself.

2. Misfits – ‘Legacy Of Brutality’

When you have a scary band playing scary songs and a singer who sounds like cross between Elvis and Jim Morrison, you can’t go wrong.

While any of the Danzig-era Misfits albums could have made this list, and should be checked out, I felt that 1985’s Legacy Of Brutality was the best choice for this list simply because it includes the classic Misfits track, “Halloween.”

3. Various Artists – ‘Nightmare Revisited’


OK, sure, it’s a collection of covers from a children’s film, but even the original soundtrack to 1993’s The Nightmare Before Christmas was an essential Halloween album. Its eerie sound mixed with childish whimsy makes it nice and dark, combined with punk cred from composer/voice of Jack Skellington, Danny Elfman. Elfman was the frontman for Oingo Boingo and the man behind 1985’s Dead Man’s Party, another dark classic. (See how I snuck another item on to the list?)

Nightmare Revisited is a one up on the original soundtrack, featuring covers of the songs from the original by bands like Rise Against, DeVotchKa, Marilyn Manson, The All-American Rejects and Plain White T’s.

4. Th’ Legendary Shack*Shakers – ‘Pandelirium’

Cover art courtesy of Yep Roc Records

Calling themselves “New American Gothic,” Th’ Legendary Shack*Shakers draw their influence from the dark underbelly of America’s musical heritage. No list of horror punk would be complete without their 2006 album, Pandelirium. The album is a blend of dark Dixieland jazz, Texas polkas, southern blues, old-school honky tonk and some serious punk rock. The result is a bit creepy, vaguely evil, and highly addictive.

5. Gwar – ‘Scumdogs of the Universe’

If you’ve seen Gwar live, you’re aware that music is only part of their package. Their live set is like being in a b-grade horror flick, as beasts are battled and people beheaded, and the crowd is bathed in copious amounts of blood and other fluids. It’s an experience everyone should take in at least once.

While any of their albums could have made this list, 1990’s Scumdogs of the Universe was my introduction to Gwar, and features classics like “Maggots” and “Slaughterama.”

6. Bauhaus – ‘Crackle: The Best Of Bauhaus’

Whether or not they agree, this band will never be able to shake their designation as one of the founders of goth music. There’s good reason for that, as much of their innovative music centered on a dark sound, and frontman Peter Murphy’s voice underlined it all in black.

While I believe you should own everything Bauhaus ever released, if you only get one album go with Crackle, simply because it has both “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” and their cover of “Ziggy Stardust” on one album.

7. Alien Sex Fiend – ‘The Singles: 1983-1995’

Since the early ’80s, Nik and Ms. Fiend have been responsible for releasing a large collection of death rock and dark industrial music. Their recent forays have been more ambient and experimental, but their dark classics will always be their best work.

The Singles: 1983-1995 is a great introduction to Alien Sex Fiend, and features their two greatest (and most evil) songs, “I Walk The Line” and “Now I’m Feeling Zombiefied.”

8. Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds – ‘Murder Ballads’

Whether it’s his early work with the Australian punk band The Birthday Party or his current career with the Bad Seeds, Nick Cave has been amazing fans for decades with his trademark voice and musical talent.

1996’s Murder Ballads stands out in his career, both for its musical depth and its macabre subject matter. On songs such as “O’Malley’s Bar” and “Stagger Lee,” he explores songs about murder from all aspects. It’s a deliciously dark and addictive journey.

9. Mad Sin – ‘Dead Moon’s Calling’

Album cover courtesy of Sailor’s Grave Records

When you hear Dead Moon’s Calling by Mad Sin, it’s hard to believe these guys are from Germany. These guys tear through psychobilly tunes and cowpunk like they were raised in the south. It’s a nice mix of punk, rockabilly and classic horror. The album opens with an audio collage of horror movie samples and eerie music, and then tears into rockabilly tunes with titles like “To Walk The Night” and “Cannibal Superstar.”

10. Plan 9 – ‘Manmade Monsters’

Hearing Manmade Mosters is like hearing the Danzig-era Misfits reborn. In fact, vocalist Aaron Fuller’s voice achieves such dead-on reproduction of Danzig’s vocals that ManMade Monster comes across as a previously unheard collection of new Misfits material, albeit one recorded with conspicuously better quality than the original Misfits releases.

Aside from three covers — “Archangel,” “Teenagers From Mars/We Bite” and “Samhain” — the album consists of original material, but those songs blend seamlessly with the cover versions, making it impossible for a novice to Misfits songs to tell which is the original.


October 29, 2009 - Posted by | 1

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