Music To Scream By

From the late sixties and on, rock-and-roll opened its lyrical content to become more than a single expression of either devotion, loss, or unrequited love. For fans of horror and the weird, some music seemed to actually be speaking to them, with content dealing with such things as serial killers, vampirism, lycanthropy, hauntings, etc. And I’m not talking about the occasional novelty song, but rather some influential music makers. Below are five tunes which are among my favorite in the blending of horror and song. ¬†Okay, it’s not your list. And I know you’ll be disagreeing, but dammit, it’s rock-and-roll and that ain’t pretty.

1. Let’s start with Alice Cooper. Putting a Coop song on the list was a no-brainer, but coming up with just one made my eyes bleed.
Ultimately, I chose a song that is a recurring theme in Cooper’s music—the psychotic killer. What’s not to love?
This is from his 1987 ¬†album: Raise Your Fist and Yell. The song? Chop, Chop, Chop— a little ditty about a serial killer who has a thing for prostitutes.
Some people call me the Ripper
Stole my modus operandi from the movie screen
She’s just a celluloid stripper
Just another bloody player in my splatter-filled dream
Women on the street
Want money when we meet
I take ’em for a little ride
Chop, chop, chop,

Just so you don’t think he’s resting on his laurels, Cooper recently released an the cd Along Came A Spider, songs about a serial killer who cuts off the legs and arms of his victims.
2. I sometimes feel I’m the only person who knows this tune. Werewolf by the Five Man Electrical Band is brilliant and chilling. It’s a story about a rural family whose son becomes a beast by night and the father is eventually forced to take matters into his own hands, heading into the dark with a rifle and a silver bullet.
Perhaps the most compelling point in the song is where the the family sits in their small cottage at night, listening to first a shot and a scream, wondering whether father or son triumphed.
Then We Heard A Shot
And I Said, Papa Got Em
Then We Heard A Scream And Mama
Smiled And Said, Betcha Billy Got Em

3.You cannot have a list of horror in music and not include Iron Maiden, and like Alice Cooper, picking one song is ridiculous. Number of the Beast, Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Children of the Damned, would all have been outstanding choices. However, Fear of the Dark is the one that speaks to me. This tune, with its haunting intro and theme of paranoia is begging to be part of a soon-to-be-released horror film.

Have you run your fingers down the wall
and have you felt your neck skin crawl
when you were searching for the light?

4. Can we talk Metallica? Please? What is not to love about a band with a song or two named for stories by H.P. Lovecraft? Metallica’s driving guitars and the ability to touch something primal with its atmospheric mayhem roars with tunes like The Four Horseman, Enter Sandman, Of Wolf and Man, Trapped Under Ice.

However, the Lovecraft influence wins out and so The Thing That Should Not Be makes it to my short list

Messenger of Fear in sight
Dark deception kills the light
Hybrid children watch the sea
Pray for Father, roaming free

5. While this song may not have a horrific tone, it still deals with an icon that deserves respect. Godzilla. Blue Oyster Cult’s song about the big guy is witty and fun, and captures the feel of the big monster genre.
With a purposeful grimace and a terrible sound
He pulls the spitting high tension wires down
Helpless people on a subway train
Scream bug-eyed as he looks in on them
He picks up a bus and he throws it back down
As he wades through the buildings toward the center of town
Oh no, they say he’s got to go go go Godzilla
Oh no, there goes Tokyo go go Godzilla

While you might have expected songs by Bau Haus, Christian Death, Danzig, Rob Zombie, Black Sabbath, The Misfits, Ozzie Osborne, Dio, and others to make this short list, all I can say is—it’s my list.

Okay, I’ve taken out the pin and offered you the grenade. Feel free to lob it back at me.

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