What’s that creaking and groaning? Ghosts? Vamps? Haunted floorboards?

No. It’s a barrel being scraped … welcome to a Halloween playlist that doesn’t even have a proper theme. Last year we had a bunch of creep-o cover versions, now we’re just repeating a formula – metallic spook ’em up tunes, retro-naff rock vids, seasonal nostalgia, you know the score – and beating it into a shallow grave, just like any good slasher film franchise.

But what mood are we going for this Halloween? Let’s use album cover art as yardsticks. If we get it right, we have summat that feels as good as this artwork looks:

the right vibe

If we get it a bit wrong:

not right, is it?

And if it’s a disaster…


Let the music begin.

SECRET CHIEFS 3 – UR – Pesonnae: Halloween Mix III
Holy disco volante! Mr Bungle have a new album out TODAY, twenty bloody years after the last one and it couldn’t be better timed, so let’s use that event to milk a Trey Spruance connection – let’s fill our sweetless buckets with this, a Season of the Glitch version of the mother of all chiller theme tunes.

CATHEDRAL – Funeral of Dreams
Halloween nights are damp. And draughty. And nothing captures damp draughts quite like Cathedral. Must be the flares. Obviously, they’ve got oodles of doom crawlers in their back catalogue but that’s not what we want today – we want some sort of pulse, not flatlines, and this little tinker has an unholy blend of right-on riffage, ghost choir, church bells and general tippy-toe creepabouts. Sorted.

ADAM AND THE ANTS – Ants Invasion
Nothing builds tension quite like a man running away from … ants. Does it? Erm … anyway, check the terror elements packed into this deeper Wild Frontier cut: scratchy-ominous guitar motif. Time running out. Wrong decisions. A lifeless man, a strange incision. Fear. ANTS. Fucking ants, man. Biting guitars, mind.

ELECTRIC WIZARD – Wizard in Black
Dopethrone is more celebrated, but Come My Fanatics is more B-movie, and right now we’re all about the low budgets. And tiny drums. And a Hammer House Satan opening his bowels in the background. A double-wizard bonus, does it get any more Halloween than this?

HELLOWEEN – Kids of the Century
Helloween aren’t remotely Halloween, except their track Halloween (which is totally Halloween but a bit long. Great intro though). Anyway, the metal pumpkins are here, as are fried egg eyes, forks, bloody hands, floating guitars and shite-knows-what. YES.

SLAYER – Gemini
You can’t beat a slow thrash for maximum intensity … hang on what is this, S&M Weekly? NO. It’s Slayer, crushing bones with their super slow serial killer intro thing. No kinks in this one.

CLIPPING – Nothing is Safe
You know when you watch a fire and get mesmerised by the flames, so much so that you don’t realise you’re getting closer and closer until you smell your own eyebrows burning? That’s a bit what this is like. All hail Clipping.

ALICE COOPER – (He’s Back) The Man Behind the Mask
It’s hard to believe that videos like this ever got made, such is their monumental shitness. But they did, and all Halloweens from then on are eternally grateful. Aren’t we? [Smashed pottery spoiler alert: HE’S OUT OF CONTROL].

HAPPY HALLOWEEN, see you in the Sinister Funkhouse. No?

No repent from Slayer


There’s something very, very right about listening to Slayer in September. Cool air becoming cold, days light but pulling up short, winter the next turn … yeah, September is Slayer time, and when there’s a fresh Slayer bloodflow – Repentless – it’s even better. A new rekkid is always summat to get stoked by, but this one – with Hanneman and Lombardo gone – seems more pivotal than most. Can they cut it? It’s way too early to get a proper perspective but the first impression sez fuuuuuuuckyeah. Araya and King have got a grade-A groove on, Holt shreds with melody and Bostaph … well, we already know he’s got Slayer-approved chops but his precise, punishingly physical performance on Repentless – in contrast to Lombardo’s tight-but-loose thrash flair – is exactly what Slayer needs right now: an anchor. Some of that God Hates Us All certainty.

Elsewhere in September rambles:

Is prog a four-letter word? That was the question put to Steven Wilson by Stuart Maconie on the Freakzone the other week (the tardiness of this Rewind means it’s probably just slipped off the iplayer now), and while Maconie would never feature any classic metal on his zone, you gotta wonder where the difference is. Take Iron Maiden – none more classic a metal band, right? Yet their new Book of Souls double album is home to the Irons’ longest-ever track Empire of the Clouds, a widescreen Bruce-athon which stops the clock at a Yes-bothering 18 minutes. Given their output since Brave New World, are latter-day Maiden prog?

And if so, is Steven Wilson Iron Maiden?

Ach, we’ll save the prog discourse for the time when Tales from Topographic Oceans finally hits the runout groove on side four, but if Pink Floyd are coming to be seen as prog, as Wilson posits, then we’re seeing a slow rehab of the p word. And a lot of what characterises P-rock – instrumentals, time and tempo shifts, length – applies to any number of spacepostavantmath types which bust out beyond the four-minute 4/4. SEMANTICS ROCK(s).

And that’s that for now, except to say there are a couple o’ good gigs coming up in Ox, including the ever-mighty Killing Joke the night before Halloween.

’til next time!