‘Tis the season to be scary.
Summer is long gone and it’s time to embrace the darkness, and there’s no better way to do that than diving head-first into the Halloween season. Here, we celebrate the artists that lean towards the spookier side of the musical spectrum, and who provide the best songs for a Halloween playlist.
I’ve talked about Emilie Autumn’s knack for concept albums on Music Malady before, but there’s no better time than the Halloween season to discover – or rediscover – her haunting musical stories. Her most conceptually impressive is Fight Like A Girl, a goth opera based off her novel The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls. ‘Time for Tea’ and ‘Girls! Girls! Girls!’ are high Victorian gothic as well as commentary on mental health and misogyny in the 19th century. Equally, the title track from 2010’s Opheliac should find it’s way on to your spooky playlists – the combination of the harpsichord and classical vocals makes for a poignant Shakespearean horror.
‘Fight Like A Girl’ is available via The Asylum Emporium.
The Cure are among the pioneers of introducing darkness into the mainstream. Disintegration’s ‘Lullaby’ – about a spider man who eats children – was actually their highest-ranking single in the UK charts, reaching number 5 in 1989. They also contributed original song ‘Burn’ to 1994 superhero-horror flick The Crow, the original comic book of which was heavily influenced by the British post-punk band. For a lighter note, check out ‘The Lovecats’ for a charming addition to your Halloween soundtrack.
‘Lullaby’ is available via Fiction Records.
Nick Cave has a long history of making music on the darker end of the spectrum. Beginning his career in early goth band The Birthday Party, ‘Release the Bats’ was a highly influential song in the subculture. Since then, his music has taken a different turn, taking on a narrative style to deliver some classic southern gothic songs. A key album here is Murder Ballads, where each song is based on folk stories and murder. Others like Let Love In’s ‘Red Right Hand’ are classics for a reason, so be sure to give them a listen on these colder evenings.
‘Henry Lee’, featuring PJ Harvey, is available via Mute Records Ltd.
Jack Off Jill
Missing some heavy punk guitars on your Halloween playlist? Enter Jack Off Jill, riot goths of the 90s who don’t shy away from the darker themes in their music. Their two full length albums, Sexless Demons and Scars and Clear Hearts Grey Flowers are cult favourites, combining all the high emotion of 90s punk with goth horror lyrics. They are criminally underappreciated in the punk rock scene but with their no-holds-barred lyrics and lead singer Jessicka’s creepy vocals, they’re definitely ones to listen to on a dark autumn night.
‘Fear of Dying’ is available via Jack Off Jill.
Another hidden gem of the nineties, Rasputina’s personal brand of rock is driven by cellos. They were an eccentric part of the ever-unconventional dark cabaret scene, and their songs are heavily influenced by the Victorian era and historical oddities. A real treasure of their discography is ‘1816, The Year Without A Summer’, all about the climate abnormalities of the early 19th century. The strangeness of the music is exactly what makes it so enchanting, so be sure to check out Rasputina is you want to discover something a little irregular.
‘Transylvanian Concubine” is available via Sony Music Entertainment Inc.