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October 2017

WUSC’s Top Halloween Albums

Hallow’s Eve is the best time of year for music. From gothic, to metal, to punk there’s albums to fit all moods of the season. WUSC has gone through and compiled just a few of our favorites over this last week for you all.

 

7: Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!
To get into the season, we should always turn to the eternal daddy of all goth and horror, Nick Cave (sorry Peter Murphy). “Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!” is Cave’s reflection on his terror and unease as a child when he first heard the story of Lazarus being raised from the dead, fused into that sweet 2000s Bad Seeds blues. As the world’s first zombie, the placement of Lazarus in New York has that signature mix of comedy and fear Cave has managed to craft so well in his lyric writing. It’s not the anger from The Birthday Party or the sadness of Boatman’s Call. It’s gothic rock at it’s finest, and who better to bring it in than Nick Cave. He’s an artist for the whole year, but he certainly shines best in October. The album captures a period that while not Cave’s scariest, is some of their best as it recount the horrors of reanimation and Nick’s mustache phase.

6: Dead Man’s Bones – Dead Man’s Bones
A gothic new wave album dedicated to classic horror, preformed by America’s Sweetheart and one of the biggest modern horror movie producers shouldn’t exist. And yet blade runner Ryan Gosling and director Zach Shield’s duo “Dead Man’s Bones” self titled release is the best Halloween album of the 21st century. With synths that put the 80s to shame and a children’s choir that would make a private school jealous, the instruments are entirely played by the duo, and they toured with the help of local children’s choirs in each city they visited. The brief history of this band is as weird as it is incredible, and it’s surprising the star power of these two didn’t make the album blow up more. Even so, with loving zombies and werewolf hearts, there’s nothing more lovably spooky to play this season.

5: Siouxsie and the Banshees – Juju
Real Goth Hours: Siouxsie Sioux is what we all want to be. Without her iconic style and theatrics goth wouldn’t be what it was. Maybe Juju is an easy choice given that the track Halloween is the best thing since The Monster Mash, but there’s nothing wrong with being a little cheesy this time of year.
Juju was a milestone in the creation of gothic as a genre, and it helped establish the inseparable link with post-punk. It marked a turning point for the group as they turned towards darker themes, with everything from Sioux’s songwriting to McGough’s guitar. Juju is a piece of gothic history, and an essential for the season.

 

4: Nine Inch Nails – The Downward Spiral
Crushing anxiety fills every inch of this album by an artist who has achieved so much it’s hard to point to any one moment as his greatest achievement. A story of self destruction told through heavy metal infused industrial rock, The Downward Spiral was a massive leap from their debut Pretty Hate Machine 5 years prior. The album was a defining moment in 90s rock and solidified the legendary group as one of music’s greatest fortunes.
Terror, depression, anger, and so much more comes out during this hour long record spiraling into what may be one of the greatest, and easily most heartbreaking songs ever written, Hurt, so famously adapted by Johnny Cash. The entire album was heavily influenced by Trent’s struggles in his personal life paralleled with a fictional scenario of a man going through the described “downward spiral” he had become so ensnared by. The industrial synths and insane levels of sampling Trent applied throughout make this album a terrifying, overpowering experience that can only be achieved by Nine Inch Nails.

3: Electric Wizard – Dopethrone
“It was just pure hate. It was us against the world, and we just wanted to make the most disgusting, foul, putrid record that anyone has ever recorded.”
Dredging through an hour of some of the nastiest, most brutal doom metal ever recorded, Electric Wizard’s highlight album is a rough, fuzzy beast of sludge, laden with Lovecraftian horror. Tracks like “Funeralopolis” suffocate listeners with all of their thick layers of distortion and doom giving an odd sense of unclarity, visualized so well in the soft, blurry edges of the album artwork. The album is a mess from start to finish with bass distortion pushing through like a steamroller and never letting up until those (in)famous last few minutes of silence to finish off the record. It’s a much needed rest for you to sit back, and realize how dirty you feel from that last hour when that final, humorous skit comes on. Electric Wizard stands up as one of the heaviest bands in existence with this record as their undisputed legacy. Many lament this point as their unfortunate peak and quote the album’s underground success as a reason for their sharp drop off in quality. Still the impact this album had on doom stands, so turn up your bass and play this one loud.

2: Bauhaus – In the Flat Field
Was there really “goth” before Bauhaus?
We think not. And if you say yes we get it, you know architecture, but there wasn’t goth like this.
The namesake of the group is the glorious German Weimar school of Bauhaus Art, dedicated to the idea of unity and utility, with a single complete work of art at the center. Peter Murphy sought to do just that with music. Their style was barebones, a stripped back form of punk full of dread and despair with every piece essential and cooperative of the whole. Eerily dissonant vocals paint landscapes and images that can only be described as gothic, not to their discredit.
And with that legendary first track, the chanting of “Dark Entries” fills speakers as a terrifying drone that builds into the everlasting legacy that Dark Entries is. Bass and drums drive the album through, with soundscapes that turned former conventions on their head and made rock into what others never thought it could be. Their debut single “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” was unlike anything else at the time and lead to the creation of gothic music with this debut album as one of the undisputed starting points.

 

1: The Cure – Disintegration
Sometimes the scariest things are the saddest. I mean fellas how many of us are about to lie and say we haven’t cried to Pictures of You? From the title this album doesn’t try to hide. Disintegration is about falling apart, and losing strength. It’s an album about the suffocating loneliness of life, and it’s never been told so heartbreakingly. Robert Smith is at his saddest, most iconic lyric writing on this album, heralded as a welcome return after their recent pop driven work, to their gothic roots of classics such as Pornogaphy. Like a shipwreck, Disintigration starts at the bottom, at our lowest points, and beats into you the hopelessness of life. Even the bittersweet single “Love Song” does nothing more than wallow in the futility of love. Addiction, abandonment, and love were powerful forces for Smith as he turned 30 and faced obstacles from inner band turmoil to his loneliness in life and struggles with addiction. It was an album he needed to make. Lengthy tracks surround listeners on all sides. We’re stuck between walls of sound, layered with some of the strongest songwriting this band has ever had. Smith’s lyrics may be noted for being heart-wrenching melancholy, but it’s the way he highlights our fear in sadness that gives this album the legacy it does. Notably Smith’s struggle with addiction tackled on Lullaby transforms his struggles into monsters. When he’s not describing the terrors of life he’s describing the sorrows, and in the end they’re one in the same for him, because to Robert Smith sadness is fear. The sadness of rejection is the fear of love and the fear of failure is the sadness of life. And yet even as the icon, there is so much more here than Robert’s singing. The album wasn’t monumental for breaking new ground or being revolutionary. Rather it was The Cure at exactly what they do best.

 

By Jackson Tucker

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