At every Halloween party the host goes through painstaking efforts to get the mood right: candles, jack-o-lanterns with asymmetrical faces, and plenty of cobwebs.
But in all that preparation, they forget the most important mood maker: the music.
C’mon, people! This is Halloween, the night the dead roam the earth. The night ghouls and goblins run amuck. The night girls can get away with wearing tons of makeup and something skimpy without being harassed, and guys can, well, do the same.
If you are tired of “The Monster Mash” and cheesy sound effects CDs, here are some musical suggestions to help make your All Hallow’s Eve shindig truly spooktacular.
* Radiohead “Climbing Up the Walls”: If the cricket-like noises that lead into the yawning bass and drums at the song’s outset don’t creep you out, then Thom Yorke’s “buried alive” wailing will. And if you can decipher them, lyrics like “Lock the kids up safe tonight/Shut the eyes in the cupboard” are damn scary.
* Danzig “Until You Call on the Dark”: If he weren’t so short, Glenn Danzig could be the devil. He is at his unholiest on this track. The main guitar lick stands up against any Sabbath riff. While Danzig’s voice only briefly slips in to his patented howl, the way he whispers “I want to be your misery” is downright bewitching.
* Type O Negative “Black No. 1”: All right, this one is a bit cheesy. When Peter Steele uses phrases like “Boo Bitchcraft,” you can tell he’s not trying to turn anyone’s hair white. Regardless, the thumping bass line and twinkling harpsichord make it fun. After all, it is a party.
* Faith No More “Malpractice”: To test the scariness of this one, put on Angel Dust as you’re about to go to bed. More than likely, you’ll doze off around the keyboard break in “Smaller and Smaller.” When “Malpractice” begins, the intro noise will make you jump out of bed, lock the doors and secure the windows.
* Slayer “Dead Skin Mask”: Halloween wouldn’t be the same without good old-fashioned satanic thrash. The song is not exactly fast, but the snarl of frontman Tom Araya is as harsh as anything the band has ever recorded. The trademark insanity of the guitar solos is enough to make you forget you can’t break your neck head banging.
* Black Sabbath “Black Sabbath”: While rock ‘n’ roll was always the Devil’s music, nobody sang about pure evil like Sabbath. The spookiest parts are where Tony Iommi’s guitar whispers and the drummer thumps out a beat that could accompany a virgin sacrifice. Add Ozzy’s tortured wails and it’s enough to make your head spin.
* Geto Boys “My Mind Playin’ Tricks on Me”: The jazzy samples and theme of paranoia make this a Halloween party classic. You would think the ultimate in creepy songwriting would come from a death metal act, but Geto Boys prove that hip-hop can be just as sinister. After all, reality is more frightening than demons and witchcraft.
* The Misfits Box Set:: The play list wouldn’t be complete without them. In fact, all previous songs are unnecessary as long as you have The Misfits. They are the one band that defines Halloween: punk rock mixed with a dash of ’50s B-movie schlock. Almost every Misfits song sets the perfect ambiance for Halloween.