Turn up five scary bands to get you in the mood for Halloween

October Iron Maiden
The singer of the band Iron Maiden Bruce Dickinson in concert for the Rock in Idro Festival at the Arena Parco Nord in Bologna. Bologna, Italy. 1st June 2014.

There’s scary, and then there’s scarreeeeee, the equivalent of campy or edge-of-your-seat fun vs. cover-your-eyes brutal or gory, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre vs. Carrie, Martyrs vs The Addams Family. In picking just a handful of “scary” bands, we’re going to stay away from real-life behind-the-scenes horrors like Marilyn Manson and Mayhem and stick with fun ones. Of course, for some music to get you in the Halloween mood, you can always throw on “Tubular Bells” or “Monster Mash,” but if you want to soundtrack your October with some rock ‘n’ roll scariness fill your ghost and ghoul decorated home with these:


Frontman Ozzy Osbourne is now viewed as a loveable old bloke vs the bat-biting madman of yesteryear (literally 40 years ago) inspired by all things dark. When Ozzy, the self-proclaimed Prince of Darkness, decided to do the reality TV show The Osbournes with his entire family, he shattered his image for millions and increased his popularity well beyond fans of heavy metal. Where does one start listening to Black Sabbath (the name inspired by a 1963 horror movie, by the way)? Well, the eponymous song, of course, written in 1969 for their debut album. Guitarist Geezer Butler was engrossed in the occult at the time, even painting his room black, inverting crosses and hanging pictures of Satan. As the story goes, Ozzy gave him a book of black magic which he read and awoke to a dark figure standing there — and the book had vanished. Spoooooky.  “What is this that stands before me? / Figure in black which points at me /Turn around quick, and start to run / Find out I’m the chosen one…”


Just place one of their album covers in your window if you want to scare the kids. The British heavy metal legends, named after a torture device, has songs with such Halloween-worthy titles as “The Number of the Beast,” “Fear of the Dark,” “Run To The Hills,” and “Hell on Earth,” but their music isn’t nearly as scary without Eddie The Head, the famed skeletal monster mascot. Even in 2016, a poster featuring Eddie holding a bleeding heart between his sharp claws got banned in Lithuania because…it scares children. That’s 40-plus years of creepiness.


No doubt, if the characters of rock legends KISS — the Starchild, the Demon, Space Ace, the Catman — were originally created for a horror movie, they would still be as iconic as Freddy Krueger, Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees.  Who wouldn’t be trembling seeing fire-breathing Gene Simmons as The Demon “Love Gun” busting through a door in full spiked armour, scaly demon head platform boots, codpiece,  in full makeup with blood dripping from his mouth? He could kill you with his tongue, his accomplices/bandmates striding in behind him to make sure no one was hiding under the bed. Throwing on “I Was Made For Lovin’ You,” “Beth,” and “Rock and Roll All Nite” just isn’t scary without the visuals.


Riddle me this: who would you rather “trick” or “treat” on Halloween?  Slipknot with their facemasks — especially Clown (always the clown) — or the elaborate, over-the-top grotesque monsters of Gwar? Live, Slipknot has loosened the knot somewhat, not tying audience members up with the mic cord anymore or setting each other on fire. Gwar is known for crazed, “violent” live shows that include spraying the crowd with fake bodily fluids of all varieties. Oh, what fun. Despite the more imposing image of Gwar, one can bet that they can be tamed with a few chocolate bars.


Gotta throw a Canadian band in here, one with a name that makes you feel all warm and fussy and brings out the nurturer in you. However, the music is the complete antithesis: The pioneering industrial-rock act wrote about everything from animal rights to chemical warfare and delivered them live with a horror-style theatrical multi-media live show, sometimes featuring mock executions. The music would rumble right up from the floorboards, into your gut and burrow into your brain. Now that’s a horror plot if I’ve ever heard one.