The definition of horror describes it as an “intense feeling of fear, shock, or disgust.” Through the generations, many masters have stepped forward and manipulated horror like a puppet master, working the strings of their craft. Movies, video games and books have been the primary source of horror for most people through the years and for good reason. In our media-based culture, there is always a way to obtain or have access to at least one of these forms of entertainment. But what about other mediums? Take for example music. Music and emotion go hand in hand. Pop music uses uplifting beats and vocals to make the listeners of the genre feel hopeful and happy. Country music has its own deep twangs of heartbreak, sadness, and many personal human emotions. But what about horror?
Horror has had as much as an impact on emotions as any other genre of music and through it’s twisting, fog-filled hallways, there are a select few masters working the strings of their instruments, weaving breathing tapestries rich with sounds. While most people view horror music as something to simply be played during Halloween, the truth is that these kinds of albums can always be listened to any time of the year and aren’t limited to a spooky holiday. I know I myself constantly listen to Midnight Syndicate in an attempt to gain inspiration when writing short stories or when I want to feel creeped out. Their music is even great for bedtime, as some of their tracks are just the right amount of slow and somber. I urge anyone with a sense of fear and excitement for scary things to try and replace their usual music for more haunting and darker tracks, but I can’t force anyone to do it. I can only suggest, and praise the artists themselves. It doesn’t take much digging around on the internet to find one you would like.
Fans of horror movies and horror games would do well to even look up the soundtracks to their respective media. From the dark and somber tones of Resident Evil, to the Toccata of Castlevania’s Organs and violins, the range of what can be found is potentially limitless. To help you and many others, this is my personal list of favorite horror albums. Hopefully, it may help you ignite a spark of passion for horror and music, as I find both are essential in life.
#10 Zombie EP by The Devil Wears Prada
I must beg forgiveness for this first one. The reason this one places at number 10 for me is that it is not a traditional horror album in the sense of instrumentals and soundscapes. Zombie EP is a Metalcore album released in 2010 by The Devil Wears Prada. The concept is, of course, my favorite one: zombies. The lyrical content is full of hopelessness, grief and yes, plenty of rage. Interspersed at the beginning, between and at the ends tracks, Zombie EP provides excellent sound clips, from a radio broadcast explaining the dangers of zombies and urging you to stay in your homes to the sound of a man sprinting through alleys and firing at a horde of the howling dead. It even has chainsaws, a figurative cherry on top of the icing on this bloody cake.
#9 The Scarlet Queen by Chaostar
Do you own a castle? Are you a fan of melancholy chanting combined with the occasional scream? Do you need a soundtrack to tear away the hopes of anyone in your torture dungeons? Great, this one is for you. Released in 2004 by Chaostar, this opera CD is perfect for people looking for some dark music that goes great with a glass of blood. I mean wine. It features a diverse cast of sounds, going from gentle to violent and sometimes to disturbing in mere seconds with enough variety to make you feel like you’ve gone from an action movie straight into something of the likes of Van Helsing.
#8 Monsters 6.66 by Figure
Again, not exactly “Horror Music”, but this one was too rich to pass up on the list. Released in 2015, Figure (real name Josh Gard) is a Drumstep musician who creates Electronic Dance music. He is most popular for his “Monster” series, with this album being the 6th in the series. It contains 66 tracks of previous songs and new remixes. Each song is a dedicated tribute to a horror movie (aptly named as well), so your favorite movie probably has been turned into a dance song. Each song contains clips from the movies or respective media, so it’s always awesome to hear a movie quote laced in with hypnotic and sometimes dark dance beats. I personally recommend “Michael Myers Is Dead” which features a haunting repetition of Jamie Lee Curtis whispering Michael’s name and even makes room for the classic Halloween piano theme.
#7 The Woman In Black by Marco Beltrami.
Marco Beltrami is a master and there’s no doubt about it. Released in 2012, This one album made it onto the list because of the hair-raising score that I absolutely do not feel comfortable listening to through headphones. Having composed the music for many movies, including Scream 1 and 2, World War Z and even the recently popular Marvel movie Logan, Beltrami’s use of classical instruments and screeching violins can almost kill you. Almost.
#6 The Evil Within by Various Artists
If you have played The Evil Within, then you know all too well how sound plays a significant part in pushing you through its nightmare. Hair raising and tense, this soundtrack will stress you out even while doing mundane tasks. A constant feeling of being watched will settle over you with the echoing atmospherics and when things start heating up you’ll want to fling your headphones away and perhaps listen to something much happier.
#5 The Shadow’s Bride by Peter Gundry
I’ll wear all black if I want to Mom. The Shadow’s Bride by Peter Gundry, released in 2016, is much more somber and slow than your traditional horror music. It’s perfect for anyone with a Vampire fetish and features some of the cleanest music around in the genre of classical music. With haunting melodies and slow piano, this dark and broody album belongs in a gothic fairy tail. But it is still creepy, so it goes on the list.
#4 Resident Evil: Darkside Chronicles by Various Artists.
There’s a time and a place to be a fanboy, and that time is now and the place is here. Take the classic, yet haunting, atmosphere of Resident Evil and amp it up with modern instruments, with an action tempo containing a whole orchestra, and you get a terrifying album that pits you against the darkest music from two of the franchises best games, Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil: Code Veronica. What’s behind that ominous door? Listen to this album and you won’t want to open it.
#3 Silent Hill: Origins by Akira Yamaoka
Featuring psychedelic guitars and an echoing ambiance that can make you question even your own sanity, this video game soundtrack contains a fusion of horror and psychological sounds, pitted with stereotypical music for the series. It may be expected, but it is certainly done the best and leaves you with a scalp tickling feeling that something…isn’t quite right. Don’t go jogging in the fog while listening to this. You might not make it back home.
#2 Monsters Of Legend by Midnight Syndicate.
A throwback to the golden age of black and white horror movies, this soundtrack is all about honoring the Original Hollywood Monsters. Featuring sound effects that place you in the best scenes of the best movies, Midnight Syndicate proves once again that they are hands down the best at making terrifying music for you to get lost in. Fans of old horror movies may want to give this a listen because I assure you that you will finish this album as a new fan of the Midnight Syndicate maestros.
#1 The Dark Tower by Nox Arcana.
Picking out this list was tremendously difficult for me. It wasn’t easy. A lot of the albums I love didn’t make the cut, for specific reasons, and for reasons of variety. But this one… I couldn’t leave it out. The Dark Tower is by far my absolute favorite horror album. I cannot count how many times I casually listen to this album, and I cannot begin to explain why here, but I’ll try. Nox Arcana is at their absolute best, in my opinion, on this particular album. Everything bleeds atmosphere, and instead of letting it soak up in the carpet, it takes a paintbrush and creates a beautiful mural of death. Vampires, ghosts, ancient beings that creep from graves, and darkness eternal reign in the tracks of this outstanding album. I will tell you that you have to listen to it any day if you ask.
And there we have it, people. My absolute favorite horror music. I urge you not to just try out these tracks, but to explore on your own. It’s a big scary world out there and while some of these tracks may not be the best for you, there definitely is something waiting out there in the shadows to grab you with its claws. In a good way, of course.