10 Freaky Full-Lengths to Haunt You This Halloween

A concept album inspired by a serial killer. A record themed around classic horror films. An LP with plenty of Martians and murder. As Halloween nears, it’s time to break out the albums that truly chill us to the bone, and there are plenty in the heavy music world. From the gothic punk of AFI and My Chemical Romance to the eerie industrial metal of Death Therapy and Rob Zombie, there’s a lot to frighten your ears this time of year. When it comes to spooky listens, you could say these 10 albums are a “cut” above the rest (right, Patrick Bateman?).

AFI – Sing the Sorrow (2003)

AFI has undergone transformation several times throughout their career. Starting in hardcore, evolving to hardcore punk, then hitting the mainstream with emo rock, their metamorphosis would make even Kafka proud. In the early 2000s, the group hit their artistic peak with Sing the Sorrow, a gothic-tinged LP that’s as close to an emo masterpiece as anything from the scene. “Girl’s Not Grey” is the high-flying hit, but there are plenty of haunting moments — from the chanted chorus of “The Leaving Song, Pt. II” to the electronic changeup of “Death of Seasons.”

Chiodos – Bone Palace Ballet (2007)

We only got two Chiodos albums with Craig Owens during the post-hardcore outfit’s initial run (he returned in 2014), but his initial farewell was a fiery fantasy world full of literary and romantic influences. With Charles Bukowski and Kurt Vonnegut in their back pocket, the band go full-on macabre — all the while playing upbeat mallcore with pop-punk trimmings. “Is It Progression If a Cannibal Uses a Fork?” (a phrase attributed to a Polish poet) brings together everything Chiodos offers on this LP: a chilling choir, classic rock soloing, and the occasional scream.

The Cramps – Songs the Lord Taught Us (1989)

The Cramps was often considered the ultimate Halloween band (one publication even called them “the scariest band of all-time”), and all you have to do is look at their song titles to figure out why. Songs the Lord Taught Us is the group’s strongest offering, meshing surf rock and garage punk sounds of the era with vocals that echo like a creature in the night. “I Was a Teenage Werewolf” and “Zombie Dance” are must-haves on any spooky playlist, but the entire album is the perfect soundtrack to your next Halloween party — especially an ‘80s-themed one.

Death Therapy – The Storm Before the Calm (2017)

After leaving progressive metal band Becoming the Archetype in 2012, Jason Wisdom had an entirely new creative vision in front of him. He became the mastermind behind Death Therapy, which brought an industrial twist on heavy music (think Marilyn Manson with screams). On his debut, The Storm Before the Calm, he tapped keyboardist Brian Wages to give the songs an eerie twist, with the driving synth of “Self Mind Dead” and ominous palette of “Slow Dance (With Death)” giving the disc quite the groovy edge — exactly what Halloween needs.

Ice Nine Kills – The Silver Scream (2018)

It’s hard to imagine Ice Nine Kills as a ska-punk band, but they’ve gone on to impressive heights considering their humble beginnings in the 2000s. On 2015’s Every Trick in the Book, they found a unique angle in classic literary themes, so the follow-up’s decided focus on horror cinema was a match made in heaven (or, for Halloween, shall we say “hell”) for the metalcore players. Hooking up references to A Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th with pouncing breakdowns and Spencer Charnas’ towering hooks, no record is as fitting for this time of year.

Misfits – Walk Among Us (1982)

The Misfits and Halloween go hand-in-hand — they literally have a song called “Halloween,” after all. The horror punks provide plenty of ghoulish one-offs, from “Night of the Living Dead” to their own rendition of “Monster Mash” (the one version that doesn’t make me immediately want to change the station). But 1982’s Walk Among Us is arguably the standout full-length from Glenn Danzig and the gang. The alien-themed release goes all out, with punk rock touching on Martians, murder, space zombies, and even missiles (no, “Nike a Go-Go” is not about shoes).

My Chemical Romance – The Black Parade (2006)

It’s a difficult choice between Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge and The Black Parade for My Chemical Romance’s most Halloween-esque record. But I’m going with the latter, not only for the creative and crafty rock opera the band unleashes, but also for everything beyond the guitars: the visionary cancer patient narrative, the ghastly black-and-white uniforms, and the imaginative videos (one even resulting in injuries to the members). The Black Parade inspired an entire generation to unleash their inner emo spirit — with a single trip to see a marching band.

Rob Zombie – Hellbilly Deluxe (1998)

He may be most known for his film adaptations of Halloween, but Rob Zombie has been an artistic visionary as far back as the mid-90s when his music career took off. On his initial effort, Hellbilly Deluxe, the menacing rocker serves up industrial-electronic concoctions perfect for your heavy metal Halloween. “Dragula” and “Living Dead Girl” both became top-ten hits, with the former still standing as his most successful (and popular) song. With Hellbilly, Rob gives us a first glimpse at the horror artist whose creations rose from the dead and continue to live on.

Slipknot – Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses (2004)

Emerging from the depths of Iowa’s cornfields, the nine-member Slipknot took the metal world by storm through a ghastly look complete with numbered jumpsuits and creepy masks (fun fact for the clown-obsessed: John Wayne Gacy and Shawn Crahan both lived in the Hawkeye State). Their first two records may be their heaviest, but it’s on Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses where the band truly came into their own artistically. I can’t imagine where their career would be without “Duality” and “Before I Forget,” which thrust metal into a new, menacing millennium.

Whitechapel – The Somatic Defilement (2007)

Deathcore gained steam in the 2000s with help from bands like Whitechapel, who combined the breakneck speeds of hardcore with the demented brutality of death metal. Their rookie release is a divisive effort, heralded by many as the best the group would ever release but often ignored by fans as too raw and grisly compared to their later, more palatable works. Whatever your opinion, you have to acknowledge The Somatic Defilement’s legacy as one of the genre’s most despicable listens — often giving first-person accounts of Jack the Ripper’s gruesome acts.

To bring the dead to life at your Halloween party, jam these spooky season albums and other haunted hits in my all-things-spooky playlist:

Featured Image Credit: Leonhard Kreissig (Mick Thomson/Slipknot), Getty Images (Gerard Way/My Chemical Romance), Jonas Rogowski (Paul Doyle/Misfits)

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