“Woe to you, oh Earth and Sea, for the Devil sends the beast with wrath,
Because he knows the time is short. Let him who hath understanding reckon the number of the beast, for it is a human number, its number is Six hundred and sixty six.” – Iron Maiden – The Number Of The Beast.
Taking a slight detour from our usual programming, in this installment of Talkin’ Tracks I will be talking about another musical passion of mine, one that goes hand in hand with the world of horror. For this week’s article, I’m going Heavy Metal!
Ever since the birth of heavy metal/rock music the world of horror has been there every step of the way. You only have to look at the band that arguably started it all –Black Sabbath. Named after the classic Mario Bava film that happened to be showing across the street from the bands rehearsal studio. Bassist Geezer Butler and singer Ozzy Osbourne would also find inspiration for the song ‘Black Sabbath’ from renowned horror/occult novelist Dennis Wheatley. This trend would carry on throughout the bands career but would not end with them.
From June 10th to June 12th the annual Download Festival took place in Donington, Derbyshire UK. The festival is synonymous for being the home of ‘Heavy Metal’ and over my many years of visiting, one of the always-visible elements has been the love for horror amongst the patrons and bands themselves. You only have to look at this years headlining acts to see the horror influences – Rammstein (exploitation) Black Sabbath (classic horror) and Iron Maiden (slasher/fantasy). Each bands stage performance could be akin to watching a live horror film with a kick ass soundtrack. Rammstein with their pyrotechnics and liberal use of fire, Black Sabbath with their earth shattering bass driven psychedelic imagery and the always show stopping Iron Maiden, who it seems will never tire of ripping band mascot Ed’s brains out during the culmination of their set.
The horror admiration didn’t stop with the bands playing either. During the three-day festival I encountered plenty of genre fans. I would not be out of place saying that there were almost as many horror t-shirts on display as there were bands shirts. Michael Myers, Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees were all on display, albeit underneath plastic raincoats as the festival suffered one of the largest downpours in its history. Horrific weather aside, and believe me, it was horrific the spirits of the festivalgoers never seemed to waiver. Overall the festival was a ton of fun, plenty to see and do. As well as the usual fairground attractions there was the village area, which offered more music and frivolity. Going to the festival got me thinking about my own journey into horror, which as no coincidence also happened to be at the same time my musical tastes, started getting heavier. Oddly enough it was seeing the band Cannibal Corpse in the film ACE VENTURA – PET DETECTIVE (not horror) that had me looking in the credits to see who the band was. From then on the music became louder, the movies became bloodier, and in a few shorts months a film would come along that would not only have a soundtrack/score that is still beloved today, but also had almost every male metal fan start growing out his hair and wearing all black.
THE CROW soundtrack would be the first of many that still gets a regular play in my house, car and iPod and really seemed to kick the metal/horror soundtrack into the mainstream. My love for The Crow knows no bounds and in my fandom I had to discover more genre films with killer soundtracks.
One of my personal favorites is the movie TRICK OR TREAT, which features a back from the dead musician, hidden messages using backward masking and a killer soundtrack by ‘Fastway’. The film also happens to have guest appearances from Ozzy Osbourne and Gene Simmons from ‘KISS.’
Judgment Night, while not strictly being a horror film still has one of the greatest soundtracks ever made, in my opinion. Combining metal bands like –Slayer, Helmet, Biohazard, Therapy and Faith No More with hip hop artists –Ice T, House of Pain, Onyx, Fatal and The Boo Ya Tribe. I still have so many memories of hearing almost all of these tracks from my years clubbing. In an almost similar fashion the big screen adaptation of comic book SPAWN saw the films soundtrack combine metal and electronic acts. While the film may not have delivered the way fans wanted, the soundtrack certainly did. Before long the ‘teen horror’ era would be in full flow and for years to come we’d have pointless Nu Metal soundtracks in their droves. Seriously, go back and take a look at any of the mid-nineties horror films released, lousy with Nu Metal. Thankfully this would all come to an end and horror films would return to form and start having soundtrack/scores that would have people talking again.
If horror and metal sound like a good combo to you, why not also check out the following: ROCKTOBER BLOOD, STRANGELAND, CRADLE OF FEAR and PHENOMENA. Be sure to also check out Rebekah McKendry’s article on ‘Hair metal horror.’
All in all, going to the festival has had me digging through my record collection as well as my DVD collection pulling things to take me on a trip down memory lane.