Supernatural Sounds to Rock Out To for Halloween

29 Oct

null8By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Music and All Hallow’s Eve—throughout the years, many bands have offered hits like the Monster Mash or solo acts, featuring Thriller. They are goofy fun. With rock musicals, they go the extra mile and tell a story. I made a list years ago of productions that one can see theatrically, but I got to wondering: what about those albums that do not have a stage show attached to it?

Listeners can listen to one track or hear the entire album to understand each song in a  greater context. This list I offer is certainly worth cranking up the All Hallow’s Eve season, especially for those in the mood for something slightly different from the mainstream. In no particular order:

Iced Earth
Night of the Stormrider (1991)

Heavy Metal dominates this list for good reason. It’s the perfect musical genre to tell recount tales of the occult, especially with the type of sonic melodies heard. It’s not to say other genres or the music of Mozart can not do the same; the composition of how the notes are organized, the way the lyrics are presented and how it works in harmony (or disharmony) says everything.

When the story focuses in on a man feeling betrayed, that is the making for a decent plot. He’s turned his back on Faith, and the elemental forces of hate use him to destroy the world. In the case of Amadeus (the movie deserving honourable mention in this list), Antonio Salieri did everything he could to torment his foe but ended up haunted by his deeds instead.

Carach Angren
Death Came Through the Phantom Ship (2010)

This Dutch symphonic black metal band made an album inspired by the legend of The Flying Dutchman! Instead of looking at the original tale as a period piece, they set this retelling in the future. I am a sucker for ghostly mariner tales, and this offering fits the bill very well. While I’m still waiting for Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner to get realized as a musical album, I can at least listen to this creep-fest to get my spook on.


Alice Cooper
Welcome to
My Nightmare (1975)

Anyone who has been to one of Alice Cooper’s concerts will know his shows is about the theatrical experience. When the narrative is about the nightmares of a young boy coming to life, and how he responds to it, I can relate! Though this entry is to acknowledge the godfather of shock rock and how his influence is vital to other performers, I can at least say listening to the album alone is just as good as the stage show.


H. P. Lovecraft
Historical Society

Dreams in
the Witch-House (2013)

I am hoping this concept album will one day get a full-on theatrical production because the music videos attached to this work shows it can be done. The music here is one of few H. P. Lovecraft inspired operettas available and I am not forgetting Iron Maiden or Black Sabbath. The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets is a band from Chilliwack, British Columbia who have albums entirely dedicated to this mad author and appropriately themed (see next entry).

Given the themes of interdimensional demons and a haunted house, regular play during the Halloween season is required.


The Darkest of
the Hillside Thickets

The Shadow Out of Tim (2007)

This band traditionally releases themed music, but to have a rock opera based on The Shadow Out of Time is certainly different. This work spotlights biologist Dr. Timothy Vess descent into madness when he loses his mind and learns about the cosmos with the help of the Yith, aliens who have lived on Earth far longer than the human race.


The Elder (1981)

This album is perhaps this band’s only true foray to a concept album and since then, none of their other works matches the quality. Psycho Circus does not count. Many fans feel what this release offers was under-appreciated when it first released and from time to time, I still enjoy listening to “World Without Heroes.”

The story about “The Boy” being recruited to the Order of the Rose suggests the band may have been looking to medieval times to eek out a plot. Perhaps they are the Knights Templar.


Alan Parsons Project
Tales of Mystery &
Imagination (1976)

This group is better known for hits like “Eye in the Sky” and when they produced a themed album set to the stories Edgar Allan Poe wrote, I’m sure many music aficionados quirked their eyebrow. The title is taken from the collection of the same name and does it work? Hard to say. The progressive sounds are amazing and need constant relistening to know. I often find myself always transfixed by the sonic symphony than the words which accompany it.


The Scarecrow (2008)

This release marks this band’s third rock opera album release and is the first part of “The Wicked Trilogy.” The other albums are The Wicked Symphony and Angel of Babylon. The story here is beautiful and perfect for the season: it follows the life of a lonesome soul. His isolation is not above notice; nobody can understand him, and like a certain Phantom of the Opera, he pines for someone to love and seeks serenity. However, other forces are at work which can destroy him.


My Chemical Romance
The Black Parade (2006)

Inarguably, the previous entry leads up to this album which is conceptually about the afterlife. It’s one interpretation influenced by one person’s vision of what can exist. When it arrives as a parade, I could not help but reminded of Studio Ghibli’s Pon Poko, where the tanuki take shape of many Yokai and parade around the streets trying to frighten the living. This album celebrates the rock scene of the 70s.


Queen II (1974)

Although Queen’s second album does not have a clear story line, the songs on the album features fairies, ogres, and magical lands. Halloween is not always about the eerie. Some love it more for the chance to dress up as a force for good than evil. The White Side had tracks like “The White Queen” and the opposite, Black had “March of the Black Queen” to emphasize the contrasts.

“The Seven Seas of Rhye” is the most well-known track outside of this concept album and is perhaps the most recognized.

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