1. A Hymn to the Morning Star by Sleepytime Gorilla Museum. From Of Natural History, 2004, Mimicry.
Props to Bad Robot Brain for reminding me of this track! Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, the incredible aggro-prog band formed in the ashes of Idiot Flesh, starts us off with this devilish delight:
2. Pusher by Bloody Panda. From Summon, 2009, Profound Lore.
My neighborhood goes crazy for Halloween--we really make the kids work for their candy. At my house, I drag my rehearsal PA system onto my porch, and blast scary music along with playing a theremin. NYC's doom band Bloody Panda makes frequent appearances in my playlists for this, as their terrifying female vocals and guitar/organ doom attack keep many trick-or-treaters heading right on down the street...where the guy on stilts steps out from behind his tree and sends them running!
3. Vox Auris III by Tertium Auris. From Vox Stridens, 2008, Dharma Sound.
This electroacoustic record is built entirely of human voice samples, with the exception of dolphin and whale sounds on one track. The result is a dark, brooding atmosphere that can be pretty intimidating when you spin it disc on All Hallows Eve. On a friendlier note, it's a free release that you can check out for yourself from Dharma Sounds website.
4. The Dead Rise...Andrun Rampant by Raz Mesinai. From The Unspeakable, 2001, BSI Records.
Here's another electroacoustic composer, who sometimes works with Dub music as well. Apparently, this album was inspired by his work as a film composer for Hellraiser 6--in which his music was mostly not used in the final cut because it was too scary! After hearing this track, maybe you'll see why...
5. Halloween by Secret Chiefs 3. From The Left Hand of Nothingness/Halloween 7'', 2007, Mimicry.
Former Mr. Bungle guitarist Trey Spruance's ongoing SC3 ensemble take on the John Carpenter soundtrack classic here. I think I like the clarity and precise attitude of this rendition even more than the original. Here's a live video of their version, too:
6. F__cked by God. From Possession, 1992, Caroline.
I first heard this record in high school, where I bought it because of John Zorn's participation in the band. It's much more closely associated with the industrial/metal scene of the time musically, though. The brainchild of Kevin Martin, more recently of Ice (whom we'll explore later in this playlist), Techno Animal, Curse of the Golden Vampire, and The Bug, God's first album featured three saxophones on most tracks (and a fourth on the couple of tracks featuring Zorn). In many compositions, the saxes are used collectively to play heavy chords, somewhat taking over the role of the electric guitar. Justin Broaderick of Godflesh fame does add guitar as well, but the saxes dominate the mix. I had been aware of the notion that distorted electric guitar and saxophone produce very similar waveforms (though their articulations are very different), but this was the first time I heard someone consciously exploiting that fact to create "power-chord stacks" with saxes. There are also three bass players, creating a sludgy bottom line. The overall effect is like a jazz combo assuming the role of an industrial act. Intimidating stuff, but very well-conceived.
7. The Voice of the Devil, Plate 4 by Ulver. From Themes from William Blake's "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell," 2006, Jester Norway.
We looked into a bit of Ulver's career several years ago at Words on Sounds. Like many black metal-related acts, they've gone through a metamorphosis from a raw, lo-fi black metal project to an atmospheric, musically inclusive ensemble. This album was recorded well into their transition into a stylistically diverse ensemble, featuring acoustic instruments and drum programming. A very accomplished interpretation of "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell," most of this album could be described as "beautiful," even in the occasional moments featuring metal textures.
8. The Omen (Ave Satani) by Fantomas. From The Director's Cut, 2001, Ipecac.
Another ex-Bungle ensemble, Mike Patton and Fantomas offer their take on Jerry Goldsmith's theme for The Omen. I love how Patton overdubs himself to create his own chorus--and I love how the track turns into a very Slayer-ized version courtesy of Dave Lombardo's drumming!
Here's somebody's YouTube video for the track using footage from the film. Creepy!
9. God of Emptiness by Morbid Angel. From Covenant, 1993, Giant.
This was the first death metal album released on a major label, and in interviews around the time of this release, the band was ultra enthusiastic about becoming a higher-profile act. And it remains the best-selling death metal album of all time. At the time, I was especially excited about this track, as it was a really interesting use of the 7-string guitar for a low, intimidating riff (this is over a year before Korn's debut album was released, and several years before the Korn-fueled conversion of the guitar market into 7-strings). And, as a major label release, it features one of the few professional videos created for a DM track:
10. Devils by Ice. From Bad Blood, 1998, Reprise.
Ice shows Kevin Martin's dance and hip-hop side--interestingly, many of Martin's projects have existed and matured simultaneously, so it's not a situation of evolving from one style of music to another. Instead, his work with any of his projects seems to impart a sense of growth and exploration to all of them. The Bad Blood album remains one of my favorites in the Martin catalog, in part because of Blixa Bargeld's vocal contributions to the record.