Sunday’s high was 90 degrees. Today the high is supposed to be 59 degrees with rain for the next several days and my cold, black heart couldn’t be more thrilled. As I’ve gotten older the heat is becoming less congenial. At first I thought maybe it’s just me getting older, but I think more and more that it’s the fact we’ve depleted the ozone layer to nothing more than a single layer of Saran Wrap protecting us from the mighty sun’s cancer-causing beams. I don’t care if it’s dry heat or wet heat, it’s fucking heat and it’s burning away brain cells one heat wave at a time.
Not that I’ve become some kind of winter lover. I’m good until the temp drops below -10 then all bets are off. You know you’ve experience cold when 23 degrees feels like a goddamn heat wave.
No, I’m a fall guy(not of the Lee Majors variety.) Autumn, browing leaves, crisp air filling the lungs; I’m a sweater weather kind of guy. Well, mostly hooded sweatshirts and jean jackets, but I’m good with a nice sweater. V-neck, of course. I know that my love of Halloween and all things that go bump in the night is a huge factor in that love, but I guess for me there’s something kind of romantic about the season. Bundled up, walking with your significant other on a wooded trail with a cup of coffee in hand admiring the colors of the leaves…and then being chased to some abandoned cabin in the woods by a machete-wieldling maniac, only to be possessed by ancient demons and devouring the love of your life with broken fangs and razor claws.
Sorry, got carried away there.
What I’m getting at is that I. Love. Fall. It’s my season. Flannel, jeans, and a slight chill as you drive to work in the morning. Overcast skies on a fall afternoon with some dark, synth-heavy music playing in the background while sipping on a stout or high ABV IPA is my kind of afternoon. I know it’s just around the corner. First, we need to get through this(hopefully) last warm front.
Taking my kids trick-or-treating was always a highlight for me. Walking the local housing additions with a chill in the air as my kids went door-to-door tricking and treating was the kind of night that made wonderful memories. The kind I’d go back to for years to come.
Halloween of 2013; walking through Hawthornre addition as my 10-year old kept holding her witch hat on as the wind would snag it and attempt to run off with it. Big haul on the candy front that night. Enjoyed a delicious Leinenkugal Snowdrift Vanilla Porter to warm up afterwards and watched the first Resident Evil with the kids.
Halloween 2014; the temp dropped to 28 degrees by the time trick-or-treating hit and a flurry of snow began to fall. While my wife drove our oldest and five of her friends around area neighborhoods for the goods, I took our 11 and 9 year olds around in my Honda Accord to run door-to-door for their Halloween harvest. Our son was sick, so strangely enough driving around in the car worked to our advantage. After we returned home the kids counted their haul and we watched Grave Encounters in the dark and it was magical.
There were other great Halloweens, but those two hit especially hard. In order to access those feelings the sounds of the sesaon always go a long way to help me reach back to those times when the kids were little and all things dark or creepy were where it was at. I’m not talking about “Monster Mash” or John Carpenter’s Halloween “Main Theme” looped for hours on end. I’m not really into novelty horror music. I want music that’s deep, but locks into fall and the darkness that comes with it. If I can fill the fall/autumn/Halloween void while still satisfying those artistic musical cravings at the same time then, well, hell yeah!
So here are a few albums that I think you will dig if you’re looking for the sounds of the season. That is, if the season you’re looking for is fall. And while these are the perfect soundtrack to that brisk, autumnal walk thru the woods these albums are great year-round. Enjoy.
Videodrones : Mondo Ferox and Nattens Hævn
Are you looking for some dark and dreary vibes to get you in the mood for the falling leaves and things that go bump in the night? Look no further than Danish heavy synth duo Videodrones. These two have released three incredible albums with El Paraiso Records since 2016, but their first two are the ones to reach for when looking for the dark vibes.
Heavily influenced by the likes of Fabio Frizzi, Marcello Giombini, Riz Ortolani; to even the Master of Horror himself John Carpenter, Vangelis, and Walter Rizzati. The vibes of late night 70s horror come together with a heavy dose of early 70s Komische, ala Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze. But the duo of Jakob Skott and Kristoffer Ovesen dirty it up by making nightmare tunes from heady electronic improvisations.
These albums are truly unlike anything you’ve heard, and totally lock into the September/October mood. And when you’ve moved past the Season of the Witch, jump into their 2019 album Atavistic Future for a more spaced-out, Berlin School trip.
Joel Grind : Equinox
Joel Grind does speed/death metal in his band Toxic Holocaust, performing everything on record while having a band put together for the live gigs. He’s sort of a legend in the extreme mteal community. But when he’s not screaming like a banshee Grind is making heavy synth music under his own name.
I’m a big fan of Grind’s work, and for the season of changing leaves, gray, overcast skies, and a chill in the air there’s nothing better than Joel Grind’s album Equinox. Equinox came out in 2016 via Mondo/Death Waltz Originals and locks into full moon eeriness and supernatural vibes. Slow-churning synths, bubbling tension, and electronic dread for those late nights wondering if you heard something in the kitchen. Maybe it was your imagination, maybe it was the dog rummaging for doggie chow, or maybe it’s a maniac holding a machete heading towards the bathroom where you’re currently flossing. No matter how it turns out, Joel Grind has you covered.
Night Flights : Night Flights Vol. 1
Okay, so this isn’t the typical fall kind of album. But I think Rich Millman’s synth project Night Flights makes the perfect kind of music for staring up at the Harvest Moon. Millman plays keys and guitars in the space rock band Carlton Melton, but back in 2014 he put out this fantastic LP of woozy, trippy synth music that honestly sounded unlike any other synthesizer album I’d heard before.
There’s a rawness to the songs, which range from optimistic ambient to darkly-tinged space epics, all of which lend themselves generously to getting lost in a corn maze at dusk, or getting lost in your mind on an acid trip. Either way, both lend themselves to some seriously freaky times if you let them.
The Night Terrors : Pavor Nocturnus
Really, any album from Melbourne’s The Night Terrors are going to fit right into the fall season. Miles Brown leads the band with his otherworldly theremin playing, while drums and organ fill out the trio’s sound. Spaced-out, Gothic, mesmerizing, and flat out eerie are all words that accurately describe the band’s sound.
But if you want to truly lock into the reason for the season, look no further than the band’s 2014 album Pavor Nocturnus. Pavor Nocturnus was recorded on the Southern Hemisphere’s largest Grand Pipe Organ in Melbourne Town Hall. It was a live show recorded Friday, June 13 2014 and was a specially written composition for theremin, Grand Organ, percussion, and electronics. It’s a grand, glorious and Gothic LP that will add just the right amount of Phantom of the Opera to your bloody sweater weather.
Zombi : The Zombi Anthology
Steve Moore and AE Paterra are absolutel legends in the horror synth world. What’s even more amazing is that they’ve transcended their early work to become prog rock space jam tiitans. With each album they pushed their sounds and skills till they sounded more like Rush than Goblin. Or, maybe Rush AND Goblin combined into one epic musical beast.
Either way, Zombi, if you’re listening…we’re not worthy! We’re not worthy!
But for this collection, if you want the creeps and spooks and shivers down your spine then look no further than The Zombi Anthology. This is a collection of Zombi’s earliest recordings, and they lock into Moore and Paterra’s lifelong love of horror and horror scores. It’s a very minimalistic approach compared to what’s come since, but really, this gets to the heart of the matter. You won’t be able to help picking up the pace walking home at night as this plays in your air pods.
Slasher Film Festival Strategy : Wet Leather
Christopher Ashley’s heavy synth project Slasher Film Festival Strategy is one of the true OG horror score-inspired projects. Starting in 1997 as lo fi recordings, Ashley has sort of birthed a new genre of music. Scores to horror films that don’t exist, except in the musician’s own mind.
My first foray into SFFS’s world was the 2014 album Wet Leather. It locks into the seedy, sweaty early 80s slasher genre. But more on the lines of William Lustig, Abel Ferrara, and cats that weren’t afraid to really go for it. No holds barred, unrated trash that sat in the back room of the video store and sat next to Cannibal Holocaust, Pieces, and Nightmare.
Wet Leather has that seediness, but also has moments of quiet tension and queasy stillness. It’s a slow drive through abandoned city streets, a walk through a park late at night, and the score for a key turning in a lock to a surprise waiting in the darkness.
Alone 1980 : Sleepwalker
Sweden’s Alone 1980 has amassed quite a discography of queasy, sweat-inducing electronic music. So much so, that you’d be hard pressed NOT to find an album that would fit well on a cold October night.
But to capture the true “reason for the season”, I think 2018s Sleepwalker is gonna float your boat. It ebbs and flows between darkness and light; building tension and then bringing us into the sunlight just long enough before laying some serious shadows over the proceedings. Eerie, hypnotic, and engrossing.
Harglow : Harglow
Harglow’s debut is all about sick and sinister; beats that sound like a human heart wheezing last rites, synths pulsating like an open would, and electronic dread that owes as much to NIN, Skinny Puppy, and Bauhaus as they do Carpenter, Gobin, and Frizzi.
This music rides well whether you’re lighting candles for some kind of sick and sensuous ritual or if you’re heading to the cemetery to rob a grave or two. This album was one of my favorites of 2018, and continues to get lots of plays today. If you’re not spinning Harglow during the Season of the Witch, well you’re just missing out on a hell of a lot of fun.
Slayer : South Of Heaven
Who is better built to soundtrack your Halloween, the Devil’s favorite holiday according to The 700 Club and pamphlets I’ve found in truck stops.
Slayer were the band that truly scared the shit of out me prior to jumping head first into speed metal. Even when I was learning “For Whom The Bell Tolls” on guitar I was still a little weary of Slayer. The 80s was all about “Satanic Panic”, and since I’m built for panic I was on high alert when it came to those cats. They seemed as if they lived that life. They were singing about serial killers and flesh burning and sleeping with dead bodies. They were dressed just like my older brothers friends. They were sporting torn jeans, t-shirts and jean jackets. Of course the scariest folks look just like some dude you pass on the street.
Eventually I wised up and realized Slayer were just drunk freaks like the rest, they were just more into horror and war atrocities instead of Stephen King, Lovecraft, and sci-fi. South Of Heaven was the first album I heard, and I have my older brother to thank for that. I dug Araya’s screaming and Lombardo’s drumming and the two-guitar attack of King and Hanneman. And what teen doesn’t like music that scares church-going folks?
If you like your Halloween vibes loud, fast, aggressive, and mildly Satanic look no further than this 1988 classic.
Okay, this should get you started. Want more suggestions? Good, cause part two is coming next week. Then after that we’ll get into favorite horror soundtracks that will lead us right up into Halloween.