I love Halloween! I suppose, for many of us Metalheads, that’s the kind of thing that can be left unsaid. But it’s also just plain old fun to say, if you ask me, and in our world there is so much great music to go with the occasion. One thing about Metal Halloween playlists that gets a bit old, at least for me, is that more often than not they include the same batch of songs over and over. While the majority of these songs are glorious classics (Venom’s “In League With Satan,” for example), their inclusion becomes both tedious and predictable after a while. So, The Metal Wanderlust is here to shake things up a bit!
This year I have chosen to focus on newer music. You will find the occasional classic tossed in the mix, but a good portion of these songs are from 2020 releases. With the help of fellow Wanderluster, Rotnoxnatl (as well as some excellent suggestions from other familiar characters), VUK’s Halloween Playlist 2020 has become a spectacular listen for the spookiest days of any year… those last couple weeks of October.
Enjoy, ya bunch of crazy goblins!
1. Frights – Slasher Dave
For those unaware, Slasher Dave is a horror themed electronic solo project from Detroit, Michigan’s Dave Monastiere (best known as the vocalist for Detroit psych-doom band Acid Witch). His most recent album is called “Night of the Jack-O-Lantern,” but the opening selection here is the title track from Dave’s 2018 release “Frights” (a 20 Buck Spin release). It’s creepy as hell, and has a bit of a Metal vibe. An excellent way to begin our journey, I say!
2. Taste the Celestial Blood – Venomous Skeleton
Everlasting Spew has been gifting the world with all shades of Death Metal since 2016. This year, Israeli band Venomous Skeleton released “Drowning In Circles,” which has no shortage of dark and dungeoness sounds. The entire thing is nightmarish in the best ways possible, and throughout its thirty-five minute run time there really isn’t a dull moment. “Taste the Celestial Blood” happens to be a personal favourite, if for no other reason than guitarist/vocalist Nir Doliner’s maniacal vocal delivery towards the end of the track. When you get there, perhaps – like me – you will hear an echo of Carrie’s 1976 film mother Margaret screeching, “They’re all gonna laugh at you!”
3. Child of Night – The Black Dahlia Murder
From Israel back to Detroit, here’s a track from The Black Dahlia Murder’s killer 2020 release, “Verminous.” In stand out track “Child of Night,” the always reliable scream of Trevor Strnad sings of “torrents of hellish winds” that “tear through rebellious souls,” as his “feet become as hooves” and he bathes “in ageless darkness.” Though some folks aren’t huge fans, The Black Dahlia Murder has been releasing consistenly excellent Death Metal for the better part of twenty years. I like to think of them as a good gateway to other forms of the genre, because unlike some more challenging DM, Black Dahlia’s brand isn’t a difficult listening experience. It’s highly accessible Death Metal, which can open doors to worlds unimaginable!
4. Scream out in Fright – Exhumed
Grindcore from San Jose, California? Don’t mind if we do! Thanks to TMW godfather The Great Mackintosh, who, when asked what songs may fit on a Halloween playlist said, “Something by Exhumed would fit well, mate.” As you will soon see, Exhumed was far from the Great Mac’s only idea, but what a belter this one is! Taken from their 2019 album Horror, “Scream out in Fright” is as heavy and sick as any anthem to death and gore could be.
5. A Vampire Bit My Balls – Maggot Twat
Another suggestion from a TMW staple, Mr. Swine, Maggot Twat is an absolutely insane Industrial-tinged Death Metal band from Chicago. Taken from the independently released “8-Bit Apocalypse,” the hilariously named “A Vampire Bit My Balls” couldn’t possibly kick more ass! According to Metal Archives, Maggot Twat are still active, though they haven’t released any new music since 2013. If you like what you hear, maybe drop these dudes a line. Let ‘em know you’re listening.
6. Hallowed be thy Name – Iron Maiden
No reason not to be honest, “Hallowed be thy Name” is on this list because the King Diamond song suggested by a good friend, frankly, makes me want to vomit. I know, I know… blasphemy!! Shock and awe! Boo!! Maybe one day all of you King Diamond fans will find me and eat me for a late night snack, but until then… King Diamond can suck it! Besides, Iron Maiden, I’m sure you’ll agree, is an excellent alternative. Especially a tune (any tune) from “The Number of the Beast.” Why not the title track itself, you ask? Well, because this one sounds better in the mix, and “The Number of the Beast” is one you’ll hear on twenty other lists. If that makes you angry, remember I told King Diamond to suck it.
7. Taste of Blood – Skeleton
I was introduced to this hybrid Punk/Death/Thrash/Black Metal band from a Metal Wanderlust piece by Jools Green. She gave it a perfect score, and talked it up so wonderfully I put it on before I finished reading the review. I’ll share the link to that below, because Jools sure as shit has a better handle on Skeleton that I could ever hope to have. Another 20 Buck Spin release, it’s safe to say the label has had an incredible 2020!
8. All Hallows Eve – Type O Negative
Now we’re in more familiar territory, yeah? One of the few classics on this year’s list, “All Hallows Eve” was specifically suggested by our very own ProgCaveOgier! The PCO, as many of you can attest, knows his shit. In fact, if anyone could convince me King Diamond is worth a squirt of piss, it would be the PCO. But enough of that! Type O Negative is an absolute must on any playlist that seeks to be thought of as macabre, and the great thing about that is damn near any Type O song will work. I’m glad the PCO mentioned “All Hallows Eve” because I think “World Coming Down” is an underappreciated Gothic Doom masterpiece.
9. Lucifer – Nite
Just as the COVID pandemic really started to pick up steam, California label Creator-Destructor Records released “Darkness Silence Mirror Flame,” one hell of a Black-N-Roll rollercoaster ride, by San Francisco band Nite. I first became aware of the album while listening to my favourite radio program on Gimme Metal, Dean Rispler’s Records of Ruin. I believe it was the opening track, “Genesis,” but I can’t be 100%. Doesn’t really matter, because if you know anything about Dean Rispler’s taste, you know whichever song it was rips like a motherfucker! Much like Skeleton, this album has gotten a lot of play throughout the year. Repeat listening in 2020 has not been a rarity, to be fair, but this record is just a good time.
10. Rising Scum – Midnight
Cleveland, Ohio’s Jamie Walters (aka Athenar) is a one-man Blackened Speed Metal wizard! His project, Midnight, has released four full length albums, and they’re all great. With this year’s “Rebirth by Blasphemy” quite possibly being the greatest yet, and with an opening track called “Fucking Speed And Darkness,” you don’t need to wonder much why. “Rising Scum” is just one of the ten gloriously devilish songs, but a personal favourite, which fits in with the Halloween theme quite well: “Certain death for all the winds of doom will call – cross upon the wall to burn – beware this damned night, wolves howl with delight – your coffin nailed tight to burn”. I mean, come on!!
11. Psychopathy Red – Slayer
What can you say about Slayer that hasn’t already been said? Not a whole hell of a lot, but we can’t stop talking about them altogether, can we? Fuck no! And, unless you’re one of the many who find “Diabolus in Musica” a let down, you can’t go wrong with any Slayer on a Halloween list. “Psychopathy Red” is my favourite song from “World Painted Blood,” which isn’t my favourite Slayer record, but how many times does “Angel of Death” or “South of Heaven” need to be on a list of awesome? How many? Huh?!!
12.Casket of Shame – Temple of Void
Back to Detroit for some Death/Doom with the positively pulverizing Temple of Void, and I don’t mind telling you, the album this song comes from, “The World That Was,” is very high up on my best of 2020 (although, that list is fucking huge this year). Once again, The Metal Wanderlust was responsible for my introduction to this band. Our own Meddlefan did an awesome interview with them early this year (link below), and the album has been the subject of much discussion in the TMW camp, as well as damn near everywhere else on the planet. “Casket of Shame” is a stand out track on an album full of stand out tracks. Check out Meddlefan’s interview with the guys when you get a few, then, if you’re not already, become a fan like the rest of the universe!
13. Silence of the Clams – Vampire Squid
Ah, Vampire Squid. Just one of those band names that simply cannot be ignored, and Rotnoxnatl sure as shit agreed. For it was he who unleashed the Squid, squirming all around my skull! A Tech-Death band from California, Vampire Squid (which Rotnox assures me is a real thing that exists on this planet) has released five horror/nautical themed albums since 2013. I haven’t heard them all, but 2020’s “Reinventing the Eel” is absolutely fucking bonkers! A quote from Rotnox: “Would you turn your back on a vampire squid?”
14. Among the Walking Dead – Fulci (Take it away, Great Mac!)
Ah Fulci. The Italian based Brutal Death Metal band named after famous horror movie director, screenwriter and actor Lucio Fulci. What can we say about these marvellous bastards that probably hasn’t been said already? Well, to put it in Aussie terms, these cunts are so fucking fully sick, that graveyards have banned them from playing within a 50km radius just in case the dead do indeed decide to walk, funeral directors want them to play live gigs near aged care centres, and even George Fisher (who we shall talk about next) has massive neck contractions whenever he hears their name! Play this fucker loud and proud, and save yourself a heap of dosh because NO ONE is coming within shitting distance of your front step!
15. Evisceration Plague – Cannibal Corpse (Take another Aussie swing, brother!)
As if the thought of George Fisher’s neck wasn’t enough to scare the living bejesus out of the kiddies, the riffs here are pure and intense madness as you probably already fucking know. Machine gun fire barking riffs and all, our mate the neckstrosity on vocals delivers line after line of utter nastiness, so put this one on loud in the loungeroom while you await for the children to arrive at your door, and make sure all they get is a large bucket of entrails. Trust us, they will thank you for the nutrition, we all know sugar is bad for you and offal often contains more nutrients than they will ever get in a week!
16. Utterances of the Crawling Dead – Nile
“Demon who denies me
Who cuts off heads and severs necks
Who renders incoherent the words I speak
Sealing my mouth against the magic which resides in me
You who shall not see me
Kneel on your knees.”
I love damn near every second of music Nile has released, and “Those Whom the Gods Detest” is among my very favorite. I’m not even going to say anything else. Just bask in the glory that is Nile!
17. The Eye of the Golem – Nerve Saw
Fun fact: When you say “Nerve Saw” in a talk-to-text, it autocorrects to “Nerf Sauce.” True story. And even if that was the name of this Finnish Death Metal crew, their music would still kick your goddamn teeth out! Fronted by Markus Makkonen of Sadistik Forest, Nerve Saw’s debut full-length, “Peril,” is yet another 2020 highlight, much discussed here at TMW since its release at the beginning of the Spring. “The Eye of the Golem” is a quick slap to your face, being sort of a mixture of Motorhead and Master. A Punk Rock Death Metal sound, if such a thing exists. It’s probably a good idea if you all just go ahead and buy this album right now. You won’t be sorry.
18. Night of the Witch – Testament
I have been a Testament fan for over thirty years. I wasn’t with them in the beginning, but “Practice What You Preach” was still a long damn time ago. And while the band has released consistently excellent Thrash nearly every year since then (in one form or another), “Titans of Creation” is, in my opinion, their best work since the aforementioned 1989 classic. It is just a masterful work of art, and solidifies the fact that Alex Skolnick is most likely an alien from some strange guitar-shredding planet. Fucking Alex Skolnick! The whole album rips, but “Night of the Witch” is as Halloween as it gets.
19. Vampire’s Grave – Hellripper
Hellripper is another one-man Blackened Speed Metal band. James McBain being the mastermind, and, like Jamie Walters’ Midnight, the music is a straight up blast to listen to. I don’t know how else to put it, man, it’s just… FUN! “The Affair of the Poisons” is only Hellripper’s second full-length release (having just been released early October), and it possesses such a marvellous, youthful energy. “Vampire’s Grave” is a great intro to Hellripper, if you’re not familiar.
20. Living Dead – Entombed
Your Grouchy Friend, as you may know, has impeccable taste. He mentioned a while back that he downright worshiped Entombed, and that “Clandestine” was possibly one of his favorite records ever. At least that’s how I remember that chat going. And you know, Swedish Death Metal is… well, Swedish Death Metal. It’s un-fuck-with-able. “Living Dead” is a classic example, if for some reason you need an introduction. Lord knows I did! If you’re a seasoned fan, thank Your Grouchy Friend for the reminder.
21. Cropsy Maniac – Enter the Brood (The Great Mac)
The “Cult of Cropsy” may well be this US based bands latest release, but followers of this site should well be aware that our good mates at Cropsy Maniac have been in fact following your every move, from a distance for many a year. The knife is sharpened on this one though, the axe has been ground, and the hook on the hand is glinting right behind you in the moonlight as you walk the streets. Trick or Treat you may say at many a doorstep, but when you slip into the shadowy lane betwixt the last street and the next you may very well feel cold steel in your back. A faceless shadow will laugh with the most wicked of joy as your last meal hits the path with the rest of your insides. You thought they where a myth, a thing made up to scare people, and now you are so very wrong..
22. Faces of Death – LIK
Old school Sweedish Death Metal, in the vein of Grave, Paganizer, and At the Gates, these dudes have a MASSIVE sound! “Misanthropic Breed” is the name of the album, which came out late this Summer, and “Faces of Death” will tear the skin right off your body. You’ll have to walk around like that forever… faceless and deaf. Be afraid!
23. Majestic Rot – Soulrot
Soulrot is a Death Metal band from Chile, and they’re insanely good. They released an album this year (“Victims of Spiritual Warfare”), and an EP in 2019 (“All Hail the False Kings”), but this track is from Soulrot’s 2017 release, “Nameless Hideous Manifestations.” “Majestic Rot” by Soulrot, leading into our next selection by Necrot. If I really wanted to make a point, I’d add a Void Rot tune, but I’ll save that one for next year.
24. Asleep Forever – Necrot
Oakland, California’s Necrot made quite a splash with their debut LP “Blood Offerings.” Talk about their follow-up, at least here at TMW, was abundant. It took a while, but in August 2020 “Mortal” arrived, exceeding expectations. The album hasn’t been out long enough for me to develop favour for one track over another, and to be honest I’m not sure that’s even important. Much like the Temple of Void record, “Mortal” is full of greatness. “Asleep Forever” happens to be the one I picked for this playlist, but you can’t go wrong with any of the seven.
25. Path to Your Tomb – Frostvore
If you haven’t figured it out by now, when the PCO speaks… I listen! In his superlative review for Frostvore’s “Drowned By Blood,” the PCO says the band “come across like a frenzied Death ‘n Roll berserker (maybe in this case a sumo wrestler gone mad, skating down the street with a hearse and a bazooka?)” What the fuck else do you need to know? Frostvore, “Path to Your Tomb.” Turn it up!
26. Your Suffering Will Be Legendary – Paganizer
“Your suffering will be legendary, even in Hell”, so sayeth the King of all Cenobites, Pinhead. Hellraiser 2 references aside, Paganizer (or more specifically, Rogga Johansson and any one of his thirty-plus active projects), plays the kind of Death Metal that Pinhead himself might blare as the audio accompaniment for said suffering. Why? Because the tortured might actually enjoy the sound, perversely attracting them to the hellish gore that lay in wait!
27. How Dare You – G.T
Almost exactly one year ago, New York artist G.T (aka John Mollusk) took the instantly famous speech Greta Thunberg gave at the UN Climate Summit and mixed it into a Death Metal song. Now, what’s great about this (in the context of a Halloween theme) is that you cannot lose! Either you believe Greta Thunberg and climate change scares the shit out of you, or you believe the opposite of science and Greta Thunberg scares the shit out of you. To be completely honest, they both freak me out, but this is a great little homemade DM tune. All of the proceeds of the sale of this track, by the way, go directly to Greenpeace, so if there’s one link you should click on it’s the one below. If you choose to ignore it… HOW DARE YOU?!
28. Catacomb Eyes – Lares
Take one look at the cover art for “Towards Nothingness” by Lares, and you know right away who’s responsible. Mariusz Lewandowski. This dude has created some of the most badass album covers in recent memory (Bell Witch, Jupiterian, Eremit, Psycroptic, Artamentus, and Abigail Williams to name a few). He does the kind of work that makes you want to hear the record, which is precisely what drew me to Lares. A “Psychedelic Sludge Metal” band from Germany, Lares released this, their debut LP, in June on the Italian label Agonauta Records. It is glorious!
29. Plague of Incompetence – Perdition Sect
According to the band itself, Perdition Sect is a “Pandemic born Discharge inspired metallic punk for the soundtrack of the end of days.” Judging from some of its members (from bands like Incantation, Shed the Skin, and Ringworm), you know you’re in for something fairly aggressive. Coupled with the title of the first single (“Plague of Incompetence”) from their upcoming album, “End Times,” ears begin to bleed before hearing a single note! Rotnoxnatl discovered this track while searching for a tune to place between Lares and Bedsore, and thank fuck he did! Check out the link below for more information on this Cleveland based apocalyptic punk quartet.
30. Disembowelment of the Souls (Tabanidae) – Bedsore
Italian Progressive Death Metal band, Bedsore, released one of the most interesting DM albums of 2020. “Hypnagogic Hallucinations” is a fascinating and positively addictive listen from start to finish, and “Disembowelment of the Souls” is a great introduction to what this band has to offer. Once again, 20 Buck Spin proves they’ve got their ears open for both originality and excellence, sitting comfortably just outside the mainstream.
31. Monsters/The White Witch – Frayle
How to end this playlist was a question that took some time to answer. For Rotnoxnatl and I, bands close to home (Detroit/Cleveland areas) are close to our hearts as well, which is one reason you’ve seen several bands from these areas on this list. Another reason is that, apparently, this area of the country is spooky as fuck!
Frayle (from Cleveland) released one of the best albums of 2020 with “1692,” and I really wanted to feature one of those incredible songs here, but none of them quite fit after Bedsore. Rotnox came up with the idea to feature two Frayle songs at once by including “Monsters” as a 9-second intro to “The White Witch” (off of the band’s 2018 EP of the same name). The result is a perfect ending to the journey we’ve been on together.
“Monsters” is a little nursery rhyme spoken by a child. Unsettling, to say the least. “The White Witch” is part Funeral, part Psychedelic Stoner Doom with an emphasis on the power of feminine grace through chaos. Sort of an Ahab meets Chelsea Wolfe situation, and ho-ly shit it’s good!
I hope you have enjoyed reading about (and listening to) this Halloween playlist. My hope is that it will provide a little more excitement to the season for you all. Please enjoy the accompanying Spotify playlist.