Greedy Guts month allows the staff of Nightmare on Film Street to do many things, but one of the most enjoyable is the chance to expand our focus and look at things we’re passionate about, but don’t normally get to cover. Today, we’re going to look at a different form of horror storytelling; one full of all the spooky stuff you love like slashers, zombies, ghosts, monsters and cosmic horrors. It’s just these stories use shredding guitars, powerful percussion, and wailing vocals to deliver scares.
I’m of course talking about Rock ‘N Roll and its varied sub-genres like Heavy Metal, Psychobilly (A combo of rockabilly music and punk), and Horror Punk (a mix of Goth and Punk rock). Each of these sub-genres feature bands who use monstrous imagery and sing songs about the creepy stuff near and dear to the hearts of horror fans. In this piece, we’ll look at ten of these bands, some legendary, some you may not have heard. We’ll also offer up an album for new fans to check out.
10. Carach Angren
This Dutch band plays a specific form of Symphonic Black Metal that they’ve dubbed Horror Metal. It’s very keyboard-heavy and all of their albums are conceptual stories. So far, they’ve told tales of the haunted ship known as the Flying Dutchmen, seven monstrous demons, a fairytale style nightmare, and the ghosts summoned by a ouija board. In their latest album, Franckensteina Strataemontanus, they blend fact and fiction to look at Johann Conrad Dippel, the German theologian and alchemist who many believe inspired Mary Shelly to create Victor Frankenstein.
If you’re new to the band, I suggest starting with their 2018 album Dance and Laugh Amongst the Rotten. It’s the album about the various ghosts summoned by a ouija board.
9. Misfits: Michale Graves Era (1995-2000)
This late ’90s revival of the legendary horror-punk band was almost more metal than punk and only featured two members of the original line up; two facts that upset some purists. However, they had some really cool, anthemic, horror-fueled songs that referenced creatures, aliens, killers, and specific horror films like Them (1954) and Pumpkinhead (1988). Plus, the video above was directed by George Romero!
The Graves era Misfits only released two albums, and if you really want to see them at the height of their power, check out 1999’s Famous Monsters.
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The first of three Glenn Danzig bands on our list is this project that was formed in the aftermath of the dissolution of the original Misfits, but before the band that would bear his name. It features songs that are a blend of punk and the goth infused metal that Danzig would become famous for.
Samhain was a short lived band and, unfortunately, their entire discography is out of print and not available on major streaming services. If you’re lucky enough to find a copy of their second full length album though, November Coming Fire, grab it. It will give you a great feel for the band.
If you love the idea of a metal band fronted by an evil version of Elvis that sings haunting ballads, heavily blues-infused numbers, and the occasional full out head banging track, then Glenn Danzig’s second band on our list is for you. The group has been around since the late ’80s and still occasionally releases albums. Danzig is the only remaining original member, though. My opinion is that the classic era of the band, which ran from 1988-1993, was the best. That’s when Danzig’s vocals were backed up John Christ on guitar, Eerie Von on bass, and Chuck Biscuits on drums.
The first three Danzig albums are from that era. Their breakthrough hit, Mother, was originally recorded for their 1988 debut album, but if you really want a good sample of all the types of songs they’re great at I recommend picking up Danzig III: How the Gods Kill.
This psychobilly outfit, originally from Denmark, is the brainchild of frontman and founder Kim Nekroman, who plays a custom designed coffin-shaped stand up bass. All of their songs feature horror themes and lyrics and they often have a great, lurid, old-time drive-in feel to them. The band has eight studio albums, but their fifth album, 2002’s Return of the Loving Dead is very well regarded and a great introduction to the band.
The Horrorpops were formed in 1996 by Kim Nekroman and his wife Patricia Day as a way to celebrate their mutual love of bands like Blondie and Siouxise and the Banshees, and genres like ska, punk, and surf. Their songs are an incredibly catchy combination of classic pop themes and horror lyrics. And, like the Nekromantix, they have a fun drive in movie feel to them. Their live shows feature two go-go dancers.
The Horrorpops have released three studio albums. All of them are great but I recommend starting with the third, 2008’s Kiss Kiss Kill Kill. The video here is from their first album, 2004’s Hell Yeah!
4. Ice Nine Kills
Metalcore band Ice Nine Kills love horror movies so much that they released an entire album of songs about them. That album, 2018’s The Silver Scream, features tracks like the above video as well as catchy songs homaging such classic franchises as Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween and Jaws. They even have a song about The Shining called Enjoy Your Slay, where they collaborate with Stanley Kubrick’s grandson, Sam, who provides vocals and guitar for the english Metalcore band, Shields.
If you’re new to the band I recommend grabbing The Silver Scream: The Final Cut edition. It has all the songs from the original album plus bonus acoustic editions, a new song about the Scream franchise, and the band’s cover of the Michael Jackson classic, Thriller.
The Virginia based Gwar is an insanely talented group of metal musicians whose imagery, live shows, and sense of humor makes them feel like they stepped out of am incredibly expensive film from Troma Entertainment. The band has been around since the ’80s and have developed a fun and fantastic mythology around the costumed space barbarians they portray on stage and in videos. They generally play thrash metal songs with violent and satirical lyrics, but over the years they’ve shown aptitude for a variety of styles and have done some fantastic covers. Their stage shows are amazing as well. They’re full of fake blood that they spray on the crowd, practical effects style gore, satire, and potty humor.
Founding member and vocalist Dave Brockie, who portrayed Oderus Urungus, died tragically in 2012, and the band is now fronted by Mike Bishop who portrays a character called Blothar the Berserker. So I’m going to recommend two albums. If you want a great album from the Oderus era check out 1995’s Ragnarok. One album, 2017’s Blood of the Gods, has been released featuring Blothar on vocals. It’s a great introduction to the new era of the band. The video I included is from the Oderus era and is off of 2009’s Lust In Space.
Ghost is a Swedish rock/metal band known for their catchy musical numbers about Satan, their sense of humor, and their elaborate live shows. The running gag of the bad, founded by Tobias Forge, is that the musicians are part of a an inept Satanic conspiracy trying to conquer the world by creating a band of musical superstars. Forge is the frontman and portrays a different character each album. His past guises include Pappa Emiritus I-III and Cardinal Copia. The other band members wear robes and masks and are only credited as Nameless Ghouls. They play a blend of infectious pop rock and metal
Ghost gets better with each subsequent album. If you want a good feel for the band, I recommend 2015’s Meliora or 2018’s Prequelle. The video above is off of Prequelle.
1. The Misfits: Original Line Up
Glenn Danzig’s first band tops our list because they pretty much invented the Horror Punk sub-genre. They’re known both for their skeletal mascot, The Crimson Ghost, and anthemic songs about astro-zombies, regular zombies, and horror hostess, Vampira.
If you like horror and rock’n roll you probably already like the original Misfits. Their song Halloween belongs on every playlist celebrating the spooky season. If you have yet to hear the Misfits though the best way to familiarize yourself with their work is by picking up their two Collection albums, which are full of their most legendary songs.