Blood Beats is a new series examining the intersection of music and horror. Different authors take a closer look at artists, albums, and songs taking inspiration from the genre we celebrate. We hope to give some additional exposure to these bands – and to give you some new favorites for your playlist.
Keep your eyes and ears open for future installments – and let us know if there are bands or albums you think we should check out!
Peanut butter and jelly. Strawberries and cream. Biscuits and gravy. Some things just go together. Horror and metal are no different. Between a love of shocking imagery and a knack for exploiting social taboo, the link between the two just makes sense.
Metal musicians have been using influences from horror flicks in their lyrics, merch, and videos since the birth of the genre. Hell, musicians like Rob Zombie and Dee Snyder have even gone off to make their own horror movies. Likewise, filmmakers have been using metal in soundtracks and as the basis for films forever. With the release of movies like The Devil’s Candy, Lords Of Chaos, and Deathgasm, that connection has only grown stronger.
Another similarity between the two is a passion for originality and a strong work ethic. In a modern horror landscape where indie filmmakers like Mickey Keating or Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead can carve themselves out spots as genre darlings, or a metal scene where DIY bands like Code Orange and Deafheaven can secure Grammy nominations, the message is pretty clear. A great idea and a lot of hard work are far more valuable than star power and truck loads of cash.
It’s with this in mind that I present this list. These are ten metal albums from bands who are paving their own way in the industry without the help of major label support. Each album captures the spirit of horror in their own way, and I think fans of both will certainly find something they like.
Daughters – You Won’t Get What You Want (2018)
When Daughters returned from an eight year studio hiatus last year, everyone who knew the band expected something great. What no one expected was a nightmarish horror soundtrack from hell, and I mean that in the best possible way. You know the grisly yet colorful opening scene from Argento’s Suspiria? The one with the girl falling through the stained glass to a miserable death? That’s what this album sounds like. High pitched, twanging guitars give the same off-kilter, uncomfortable sensation given off from the best genre scores. The rhythm section and keyboards build and build for what seems like forever, filling you with chilling anticipation before erupting into satisfying, often noisy crescendos. Despite the album’s title, I got exactly what I wanted from this, and I think you will too.
Modern Horrors Pairing: Mandy; Psychopaths
Ether Coven – There Is Nothing Left For Me Here (2019)
When Ether Coven aren’t raining down a crushingly heavy assault, they find time to serenade the listener with beautiful, ominous melodies that would give any classical music fan reason to pause. Ether Coven manages to experiment with their sound without falling into the common pitfalls of bands of their style. They bridge into the atmospheric without crossing the line into jam band territory; they employ slower tempos and drone without getting boring, and they venture into the dark and ominous without it getting cheesy or sounding like a Halloween song. With their recent signing to Century Media, we’re certain to see a lot more from these guys, and you’re gonna want to be there for it.
Modern Horror Pairing: The Devil’s Candy; Blue Ruin
High Tension – Purge (2018)
Named for the New French Extremity flick, High Tension, like their namesake, are absolutely merciless. They mix styles and influences from across pretty much the whole extreme metal spectrum to form a cohesive, violent onslaught. With shrieking screams that sound more like the cries of a bog witch than the voice of a human being, singer Karen Utomo weaves a tale of the anti-communist genocide that took place at the behest of the government of Indonesia, of which she is a native. The story she tells is clearly a very personal one, and is shocking enough to put even the most brutal horror films to shame.
Modern Horrors Pairing: Revenge; Satan’s Slaves
True Widow – Circumambulation (2013)
Slow, heavy, melodic, and cerebral, True Widow is probably the most beautiful band on this list. They blend stoner metal with shoegaze to make an eerie, haunted sound that carries the same vibe as a great slow burn Victorian ghost movie. For fans of cleaner, more traditional vocals, this is probably the entry for you. Switching back and forth between vocals from guitarist D.H. Phillips and bassist Nicole Estill serves to enhance the already dynamic, moody atmosphere created by a driving rhythm section and the haunted guitar tones.
Modern Horrors Pairing: A Dark Song; The Others
Fero Lux – Cheap Funeral (2018)
Once described by a friend of mine as “a wombat gnawing on your eardrum, but in a good way.” Cheap Funeral is a pair of EPs that serve as the final releases for South Florida mathcore quartet Fero Lux, capping off an 8 year run the same way they started – fast, uncompromising, angry, and chock full of meaning. Weird time signatures and chaotic song structures may be what Fero are known for, but the band prove that they’re equally as skilled with melodies and harmonies. Songs like ‘Revenge Films’ and ‘Separate Cage’s serve as sweet reprieves from the cacophony surrounding them. Also, “Fero Lux” is Latin for “the bringer of light” (that’s the devil), which is pretty sweet.
Modern Horrors Pairing: Inside; Mother!
Our list continues on the next page…