Horror + Metal = AWESOME
In the summer of 1845, Jonathan La’fey and his wife Miriam arrive at his newly inherited mansion. Before they enter the gates, seven horsemen in the night stop them to warn Jonathan that if he moves into the house “18 will become 9”. On the first night Jonathan meets the family ghost, and he is shown the corpse of a stillborn girl who desperately wants to live and will do anything she can to live again…
King Diamond- Abigail
With his masterful 1987 concept album Abigail, King Diamond cemented my love for metal and it’s ability to paint a wonderfully horrifying picture. Even to this day I can still turn out the lights and listen to the terrible moral dilemma of Jonathan La’fay as he wrestles with choice to either murder his pregnant wife… or allow Abigail to enter this world and cover the Earth in darkness.
Usually when I talk about my love of concept albums, most people think straight away to Canada’s prog/synth/stadium rock band Rush. While Geddy Lee and King Diamond have similar vocal stylings (King a few octaves higher) the similarities stop there. Diamond deals with the darkness of our mind and the supernatural, Rush talks analogy and philosophy. My favorite is the former; horror concept albums with fully developed stories. The listener is aware that there is a whole macabre world hidden to the art they are listening to and the story allows us to develop an understanding and even identify with the characters or themes presented.
Creating a new world or visiting an old one…
A mother with her son and daughter greet their aging grandmother as she returns from the dementia ward. As the night progresses the son (King) is awoken by voices in the dining room. Summoning the courage to investigate, he discovers his grandmother having a late night cup of tea. She seems to be alone, but the tea cups are suspended in air and grandma is having a delightful conversation with the invisible guests. Suddenly his grandmother invites him into the room, and he learns the dark secret of the house of Amon…
King Diamond- Them
A horror concept album can take us away for an hour or so to take a small vacation to the dark corners of our mind and force us to answer those grotesque questions about our own personality. “Could I chop up my own grandmother and bury her in the garden if she was possessed by ghosts?” could be an example. Oh, come on!! Don’t pretend you don’t turn to your friend, significant other or spouse and ask them (if you were bitten) if they would shoot you in the head after watching a zombie film! But this is the kind of thing we love about horror films and whatever a film is willing to show, a metal band can create something much, much worse and refreshingly original. The 1990 album The Key from Nocturnus is one such example. The album is a story about an evil cyborg which goes back in time to kill baby Jesus in order to create a anti-Christian dystopia.
A Horror concept album can also take a familiar world and turn it into a more dark and terrifying experience, such as Mastodon’s Leviathan. Leviathan takes themes and imagery from Herman Melville’s epic Moby Dick, and gives it the dark, drudgy treatment that it deserves. The essence of madness and revenge on the high seas is perfectly captured by Mastodon. The beauty of horror concept albums is the freedom to be creative and cross whatever line the artist wishes, and allows us to spiral downward into insanity as we are presented with situations and moral dilemmas that we might never encounter in the real world. BTW, Grandma, if I do encounter them in the real world… you’re fertilizer.
The metal horror scene is still alive and searching for brains!
After a brother and sister are murdered by their father in their house on ‘Never Ending Hill’, thirteen catholic judges rule the brothers death a suicide and condemns him to hell leaving the sister to find a pure soul to trade for her brother’s. If she is successful, he can accompany her to heaven, damning the traded soul to eternal torment. Finding no pure soul at the end of the album, the sister’s ghost (all covered in blood) decides to haunt the home of you, the listener.
King Diamond- Give me your soul… please!
The perfect ending to a horror story! The kind where the ghost doesn’t go into the light or murderer doesn’t get caught by the good guy. The best endings are the ones that leave you petrified and unable to walk outside because you know… They’re still out there!!!
One of the best albums of last year was a terrifying vision of pure and unrestricted evil. Behemoth The Satanist. This album is as wicked as it is entrancing. The album is a chilling monument to Lucifer as he basically gloats about making god and humans his collective bitch and there is no escape. God has abandoned us, no one can rescue us and we are seriously fucked. The silver lining to this dismal cloud is that the horror concept album genre is alive and well, and it won’t stop until it feeds upon your toasty soul!
Horror is the reason for the season…
Mayor McKenzie answers a note from a madman to come meet him at the local graveyard to play a game. When he arrives he finds seven graves all bearing the name of his daughter, Lucy McKenzie. Our psychopath emerges and informs the Mayor that his daughter is in one of seven graves and only has time to dig about three before she runs out of air. Desperately, he begins to dig as his daughter slowly suffocates to death in the earth beneath his feet…
King Diamond- The Graveyard
If you’re the kinda person who loves horror stories and has the attention span to sit back and soak in an entire album, I would definitely recommend spending time this Halloween season exploring the blackened universe of some of these concept albums. Take some time to discover your own favorites, and and you might discover that some of the best scary stories are the ones you haven’t heard yet! Enjoy!
Born and raised in San Diego California, I grew up loving the action horror and sci-fi genres. The first R rated film I saw was Predator back when I was 8 years old. Aliens blew me away as a youngster and I made a M41-A pulse rifle out of paper towel rolls and rubber bands. I ran around for hours avoiding face huggers and blasting xenomorphs in my back yard and I am bringing that big imagination to Nevermore Horror.