To Hell And Back is a weekly column in which Noisey metal editor and lifelong hesher Kim Kelly explores the extreme metal underground and recommends her latest faves.
Halloween is unquestionably the most metal of holidays, as Noisey contributor (and the biggest Halloween fan I’ve ever met) Chris Krovatin waxed philosophical about here last year. I definitely can’t compete with a guy who has a literal altar dedicated to the holiday in his home, especially because I personally fall so short of all the things a metalhead is supposed to be on Halloween.
Despite my lifelong love for the genre and involvement in the culture surrounding it, metal's obsession with Halloween has never really stuck with me the way one might expect from someone with this many goat and skeleton tattoos. When I was a kid, yeah, it was huge; my mom used to pile me and my friends into her car and drive us 45 minutes over to the rich people neighborhoods so we could scam them for candy, and it ruled. But, now that I’m too big to knock on random peoples’ doors and demand they give me treats, Halloween has lost its luster.
In terms of spooky stuff in general, I fail hard. I don’t like horror movies, for one. I’ve never seen any of the classics like Dawn of the Dead or Halloween; I went to see the grim, bloody remake of Suspiria last week expecting some nice color-saturated Argento worship, and am still having nightmares about contorted ballerinas and gore. Cobwebs and bats and assorted other decorative blasphemies are cool, but I’m not about to spend time or money on them (fake skeletons? In this economy?!). I don’t like dressing up all that much anymore, or being goofy in general—crucial components to a holiday built upon an occult tradition and soundtracked by “The Monster Mash” and werewolf noises.
So instead of going to a metal show or to a bar or to a costume contest last night, my boyfriend and I went to CVS, snagged some sweet end-of-Halloween candy deals, and watched The Love Witch (which is still a little gorier than I would like, but the colors and cinematography make up for it). We listened to dancehall instead of Acid Witch, and made pizza instead of munching on fake brains or novelty cocktails. It wasn’t very metal, but it was very nice, and I think the older you get, that’s what matters most: not that you’re conforming to some kind of subcultural expectation of what you “should” do, but that you’re doing things that make you happy. I genuinely love how much metalheads love Halloween, and that it’s something that our community can bond over even during times of great division.
So, happy belated Samhain, you little monsters. Here are a few treats for your ears (including a few seasonal covers, a massive new track from Without, and a new video from Northumbria). You should also go check out this Capitalist Casualties premiere and interview on No Echo; they do good work.
I love Without. This Minneapolis four-piece takes all the best parts of thoughtfully slow music—doom, ambient, post-rock, shoegaze, noise—and pairs it with a relentlessly anti-capitalist message to create something truly beautiful. This sprawling track is taken off their upcoming EP, Elaborations: III, which is out November 6, and as they’ve said before, “We want to create and encourage metal that identifies and fights against the real and contemporary malefactors in society: Capitalism, structural oppression, and the emotional struggle of being integrated in this enervating system.”
Speaking of slow and lovely aural manifestations, we’re premiering a new video from Canadian ambient metal outfit Northumbria. “Where Water Meets the Sky” is taken from their upcoming album, Vinland, which completes a trilogy for Cryo Chamber exploring Canada’s dark historical roots. The brooding, scenic video was directed by Dominic Marceau, and offers nine minutes of absolute calm in a manic world.
Cloak is one of the bands I’ve gotten the most excited about this year, and given their general spooky vibes onstage and on record, I’m not surprised they chose to celebrate Halloween with a little flair. Their snarled, swaggering Misfits cover is just perfect–I would totally go see these heavy metal miscreants play in a cobwebbed, bloodstained London dungeon anytime.
Integrity also released a season-specific cover yesterday, and one that felt a bit more unexpected (though no less delightful). I didn’t realize I needed to hear Dwid Hellion gnash through an Ozzy Osbourne classic, but I did, and so do you, if you missed it. Bark at the moon!
Oklahoma City’s Druj is back with Absolute Chaos, a firestorm of crusty, d-beaten punk that rips into heavy issues like honor killings, police brutality, U.S. war crimes in Vietnam, Trump’s attack on trans rights, and the ongoing war in Yemen with lyrics delivered in both English and Farsi. Essential listening for dire times.
Det eviga leendet
Det eviga leendet coax out really excellent, enveloping atmospheric black metal from what sounds like an especially miserably corner of Sweden (Uppsala/Stockholm, to be exact). Taking their name from a cult Swedish play by Swedish Nobel Laureate Pär Lagerkvist, the group just released their debut full-length, Lenience, via the soon-to-be-dearly-departed Fallen Empire Records, and believe me when I tell you that you’re not going to want to sleep on it—”Ingest” alone offers 6 of the most compelling minutes of black metal music that I’ve heard all year. It’s so good.
Much like a dog refusing to eat pills unless they’re hidden in peanut butter, I only really like industrial music when it’s wrapped up in something else. For example, the way that ROHT wrangles shouty hardcore punk, menacing industrial shards, and corroded noise into one messy little package is very much up my alley, and I’m really digging the Icelanders’ new album, Iðnsamfélagið Og Framtíð Þess (as well as their dystopian, anti-capitalist, anarchist message). Let’s fuckin’ dance.
This is the kind of horror movie vibe that I like—saturated with color and that sort of sexy-spooky Hammer Horror feel. Shout out to Richmond doom titans Windhand for ruling in general, but especially for putting out this video on Halloween.
Kim Kelly is Noisey's resident metalhead; follow her on Twitter if you dare (woOoOoOo!).