Part 2 of this article addresses three more songs that are sure to give you the chills just in time for Halloween.
Mortician: “Island of the Dead”
When it comes to horror music, death metal fights for the top spot with black metal. However, when it comes to blood and guts, death metal wins, hands down. Once of the standard bearers of horror/gore metal is the mighty Mortician. Formed in 1989 in Yonkers, New York, Mortician have reveled in every aspect of the horror genre, taking special interest in sampling horror movies for many of their songs. Indeed, there are many instances in which the sample is longer than the actual composition!
Mortician’s death-metal approach could be categorized as death grind or gorecore. As such, the band’s songs are relatively short and straightforward. In 1999, Mortician released the classic Chainsaw Dismemberment, which featured 28 unholy tracks dedicated to films such as Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, I Drink Your Blood, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 and III.
Perhaps the longest song on the CD, “Island of the Dead” takes its inspiration from Lucio Fulci’s Zombi 2, made in 1979. The opening sample of the song features some hideous screaming before a long guitar starts chugging away. Gurgling, vomit-driven vocals soon take center stage, flanked by a relentless drum machine. Few words can truly describe the brutal nature of the music—it must be experienced. As for the lyrics, they are also straightforward, as exemplified in the following couplet: “Zombies come eat you alive/Chew up your face, rip out your eyes.”
Electric Wizard: “Dunwich”
Formed in 1993, England’s Electric Wizard play doom metal, which many consider the first genre of heavy metal, as Black Sabbath’s early albums were dedicated to the genre. Masterminded by Jus Oborn (the only remaining founder), Electric Wizard have explored many facets of the horror genre, with special emphasis on the horror and dark fantasy of the pulp era.
In 2007, Electric Wizard released Witchcult Today. The second track on the album, titled “Dunwich,” pays homage to H.P. Lovecraft’s classic short story, “The Dunwich Horror.” Although there are embellishments to the song (such as “dope numbs the pain”), the song follows the Lovecraft story closely. Moreover, the song also attempts to capture the essence of Lovecraft’s tone overtly with the line, “end the world that you despise.” The song’s closure is ominous: “Our time has come/The end has begun.”
Kamelot: “Elizabeth: I–Mirror Mirror”
Formed in 1991, Florida’s Kamelot play symphonic power metal with facets of neoclassical metal. In 2001, the band released Karma, which included a “mini-concept” composition in three parts, all of which were titled “Elizabeth.” The songs make up the story of Elizabeth Bathory, the so-called “Blood Countess” who bathed in the blood of young women in an effort to remain forever young.
Of the three tracks, “Mirror Mirror” is perhaps the best, given that as a ballad it enables vocalist Roy Khan to effectively describe the origin of Ms. Bathory. The lyrics weave the tale with a sense of awe and repulsion: “Once I struck a servant/She’s a virgin free from sin/Drops of blood caressed me/And refined my aging skin.” And, “Could this be the answer/Uncorrupted carmine red/Voices keep resounding/In my dazed bewildered head.”
As the song unfolds, there is a sense of pathos and regret in the lyrics, although always the song returns to the obsession of immortality. Very few songs grasp the essence of vampirism. “Mirror Mirror” is perhaps the best of its type.