Horror Punk For Halloween
Horror. Punk. Get it? Yeah, you got it.
The Halloweening is almost upon us. Wait, no. That’s terrible. Can I start over? No? Fine, whatever. We’re sticking with Halloweening. Lots of spooky scary skeletons and douchebag high schoolers wearing pots on their heads. Metal is no stranger to Halloween, horror movies, and all manner of scary stuff, but for a style of music that loves its subgenres, “Horror metal” never really took off. Yes, there’s plenty of metal bands that have a horror theme, but you don’t really hear about it as a separate genre. Punk, though, has fully embraced the style, creating the subgenre known as “horror punk”.
Punk rarely if ever gets talked about around these parts, but horror punk could serve as a bone-covered bridge to metal. I’m not an expert in the genre and this list is by no means definitive, but here are a few bands that some of you may enjoy.
Let’s get this out of the way now. You know who the Misfits are. Whether you prefer the Danzig-era, the Graves-era, or the Jerry Only-fronted-era (hey, you never know), you can’t deny their importance and influence. Here’s a sampling of all three.
Danzig’s band following the break-up of The Misfits. More metal than The Misfits, Samhain continued the horror-style content. The band has reunited a few times in recent years including a run on both US coasts in 2014. [Editor’s Note: Pronounced “Sow-in”. Go forth with this information and be more pretentious]
Balzac is a Japanese punk band heavily influenced by both The Misfits and Samhain. How deep do the ties run between Balzac and The Misfits? Balzac has recorded multiple Misfits covers, formed a Misfits cover band called 728 Misfits, signed to Misfits Records, and had The Misfits cover their song “Day The Earth Caught Fire”.
While the influence still remains, it’s cool to see how they’ve grown over the past 20 years and become their own band. They also have a few side-projects including Zodiac and The Deranged Mad Zombies.
Nim Vind is the project of Chris Kirkham that focuses on catchy melodies and some sweet crooning. Even punks need to croon every now and again. Nim Vind’s style is far more polished than the other bands on this list, but that’s a-ok. Chris’s voice is dreamy. It’s the type of music that makes you want to drive to Make-Out Point with your sweetie and do whatever it is teenagers did in the 50’s. I assume it was drinking from the same milkshake and recounting what happened on I Love Lucy. Leather jackets and poodle skirts are recommended when listening.
Blitzkid were a horror punk band out of West Virginia that unfortunately split in 2012. Something that helped separate this 3-piece from their fellow horror punk bands was that both guitarist TB Monstrosity and bassist Argyle Goolseby could sing. Their strong voices make them very catchy and instantly appealing . The band put out 5 studio albums before calling it a day, plus a few splits and live albums. Goolsby went on to do vocals and play bass for Gorgeous Frankenstein, the project lead by ex-Misfit Doyle, and now heads up his own band Argyle Goolsby and the Roving Midnight.
The Creepshow is an Ontario, Canada-based horror punk/horrorbilly band. Yes, as in psychobilly. Before you run to the hills screaming about suspenders and crew cuts, give the band a listen. They’re really, really catchy. While I personally enjoy their original singer Jen “Hellcat” Blackwood’s songs the best, Sarah “Sin” Blackwood, and current singer Kenda “Twisted” Legaspi both hold more than their own at the microphone. Comb those muttonchops and get down.
Three brothers in Calabrese having been pumping out aggressive punk with plenty of nods to the macabre for over ten years. They’re the type of band that you want to play in the school gymnasium during the big screen in your horror movie. The band put out “Lust For Sacrilege” this year and head out on the road often, so break out the white t-shirt and pompadour hairdo.
Let’s keep the horrobilly train rolling with the Los Angeles-based band Rezurex. Don’t let vocalist/guitarist Daniel deLeon’s interesting look deter you from checking these guys out. If you’re already this deep into the column without immediately going to the comments section to complain or post a youtube video of some random band, you’re probably already open to a band like Rezurex. They managed to blend catchy tunes with an aggressive edge.
Zombie Ghost Train
If you weren’t thrown off by Rezurex’s look, then you might as well go full out with Zombie Ghost Train. I can’t explain what they’re going for style-wise, so I won’t even bother. Either way, this is a good song from these creative Australians. I’ve seen them described as “gothabilly” which is new even for me. They put out 2 albums before calling it quits a few years ago. I’m also pretty sure I heard one of their songs once as bumped music for NPR’s “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!”
Son of Sam
Son of Sam was a horror punk supergroup of sorts, containing members of Samhain, Danzig, and AFI. AFI’s vocalist Davey Havok sang on their first album and Skye Vaughan-Jayne (Ian Thorne) of Bullets and Octane sang on the second. The band cranked out 2 solid albums, and though they have not been active in a number of years, members have expressed an openness to record again.
Like many bands in the genre, Germany’s The Other started out as a Misfits cover band. They’ve since evolved to a slightly more metal sound but still have the horror themes. Their strength lies in vocalist Rod Usher’s hollow-sounding voice. I’m sure there’s a better way to describe it than that (booming maybe?), but his style certainly sticks with the listener. Reminds me a bit of Michael Poulsen of Volbeat.
There are many, many other horror punk/horrorbilly bands out there worth noting: Mister Monster, The Cryptkeeper Five, Horrorpops, Nekromantix, The Vincent Black Shadow, Thee Merry Widows, The Browns, and a bunch more. Give ’em a listen this Halloween season.