For some reason, trees seem to be synonymous with all things spooky and evil. Whether it’s a darkened forest in a horror movie, or the ruffling of leaves in an evening breeze that has us looking over our shoulders for something creepy, trees create a space of frightening imagination with limitless potential for purpose. For Halloween, trees portray a gruesome shadow in the night that causes goosebumps and chills when not expected. Remember the tree in the original Poltergeist film? They also create a blockade for hiding behind so that you can jump out and scare your friends while trick or treating. Whatever the case may be, trees serve more of a purpose than the ecology for their existence. Like trees, music provides the same escape by enticing an imaginative spark for which you can escape from reality. That’s exactly the case for these twelve chilling albums. They are the soundtrack for the season and so much more. Please enjoy these summary reviews and show your support for these artists by downloading their killer albums. Happy Halloween!! 🎃
1. Lamp & Dagger – This Tape Is Haunted Too!
Lamp & Dagger is back with their second spooktacular collaboration, featuring a handful of ominous artists that aim to frighten your very existence. From Sombre Arcane’s psychedelic massacre to a modicum of Dark Ambient soundscapes from The Night Keep that feature morbid field recordings and samples. FVRFVR offers a chip tune spectacle that is part crypt hop and part nostalgic cinema. Whispering Mirror offers a droning canticle full of gruesome modulations, while Halm conjures up some disgusting field recordings to create a gruesome scene of terror. The final track by Spectral Manse proposes a climactic ending with eerie narrations, malevolent haunts and lots of dark melody that penetrates deep in the psyche, proving that the sequel is just as damning as the original offer. I’ll never get enough of these compilations so I’m already looking forward to Halloween 2023.
2. Guild Of Lore – Night Of Halloween
Dungeon synth stalwart, Guild Of Lore, steps beyond the realm of Winterstead, leaving behind the Medieval intonations to embrace a world of 80’s-influenced synthwave with elements of cinematic horror. The results are a fascinating blend of B-horror movie anthems full of ghoulish field recordings, theatrical samples and rhythmic patterns that scream the elements of classic horror film soundtracks. “Lurking In The Shadows” is a prime example of ample beats, darkwave undertones, and retrospective synths, while “The Festivities” is done in the style of a skit, with spooky narrations, haunting screams and bleak atmospherics. This is an album that’s not just enjoyable during All Hallows’ Eve, but can provide eerie entertainment throughout the year, and for many years to come.
3. Erythrite Throne – A Shade Of Melancholy In The Shadow Of Death
If your not listening to Erythrite Throne on All Hallows’ Eve, then you’re either very much afraid or have already been bitten by a post-apocalyptic zombie. In the case of the latter, perhaps ‘A Shade Of Melancholy In The Shadows Of Death’ has become the perpetual soundscape for your existence. Expertly fusing classical synth tones and the occasional blasts of tasty percussion, this is another magnum opus from the master of Dungeon Synth music. Just as the title suggests, this album is a bit more lugubrious than other Erythrite Throne albums, but that’s what makes this project so special. Especially on Halloween, this is some classically creepy music to enjoy on this malevolent night.
4. Aleksis Tristan Shaw – Crooked Teeth
The ever so cleaver Aleksis Tristan Shaw once again keeps us on our toes with a musical endeavor that defies genre categorization but is presented just in time for Halloween. These three tracks showcase beautiful, yet twisted piano melodies with a dreamy, atmospheric production. Just as the album cover suggests, I can only imagine a blurry figure sitting behind the ivories and playing these dirges to conjure up the spirits of ancient past, allowing them to provide frights once again. Although each track is different, they each have a thematic element that maintains a dark but elegant mood. A full album of these ghastly sounds would be awesome as well.
5. Wodenwyrd – The Teutoburg Massacre
Wodenwyrd presents a rather unique recording as a short narrative is read over obscure backing tracks that fusses Dungeon Synth, Dark Ambient and synthwave. Read over a series of Acts (seven in all), the story summarizes the first battle between German forces and the Roman Empire around 9 AD. As compelling as the story is, the music fits perfectly and produces a brooding gray background for a malevolent narrative. There are three stand alone tracks that serve as an intro, intermission and outro and they explore more nostalgic territories such as 80’s cinema and dreamy effects. In all, this is a fantastic album and I wouldn’t mind having a series of recordings in this style.
6. Born From Pain – Begotten (1989)
Just in time for Halloween, Born From Pain delivers another compelling motion picture re-score. This time, 1989’s horror/fantasy film, ‘Begotten’, becomes the object of creativity as the quest for Dark Ambient obscurity reigns supreme. Over seventy two minutes of ethereal order becomes the pallet for rediscovering this film in a more sinister light. The film itself, is supremely bleak and a boldly obscure statement for cinema at the time of its release. If your a fan of cult filmmaker, Maya Deren, then you’ll have a good understanding of this film. As for the music, Born From Pain masterfully captures that essence with gloomy soundscapes and haunting effects that will lead to nightmarish outcomes in itself. Another fascinating adventure that I can’t recommend enough.
7. Scott Lawlor – The Livestream Series, Volume V
Scott Lawlor, the king of spatial Drone music and a jack-of-all-trades Ambient musician that never stops working and has enough released material to create the soundtrack to your very existence for years on end. On Halloween of last year, he produced a five hour livestream special that will be digitally released on Halloween this year. Spanning eleven tracks, this colossal of an album, flows like a never ending experiment through celestial voids and dark passages, as enigmatic effects combine with baneful textures to create the realm you’ve always dared to travel through. Each track presents a malefic journey through dark regions of the subconscious, bringing a terrorized reality to the forefront of the mind. Good luck getting through all five hours of this but enjoy the breathtaking adventure along the way.
8. Orcchasm – OrcChasm!
Orcchasm is truly unique experience, as we encounter a variety of musical intonations during this thirty one minute endeavor. From creepy ambience and whimsical synths to bazaar arrangements and nonstop frills, this is a musical adventure that is equally enjoyable and fulfilling. From grandiose, Medieval incantations to light, flute fills, you never know what direction the music is headed. However, hold on to your witches hat and broomsticks because this is a venture that won’t want to miss. Each track flows seamlessly into the next, showcasing a story of dark dungeons and numerous escapades. “Groping For Wild Hogs In The Dark Paphian Abyss” is my favorite track and it truly represents the musical prowess of this album as a whole. Don’t pass up on this warm journey into the wildly unknown.
9. Pumpkin Witch – The Return Of The Pumpkin Witch
It’s been a few years since we’ve heard from Halloween favorite, Pumpkin Witch. However, after finally rising from the Orange tomb of seasonal vegetation, they’ve returned with their most enigmatic spectacle to date, ‘The Return Of The Pumpkin Witch’. Eleven spooky anthems that provide an audial bludgeoning for almost forty four minutes, these progressive haunts are just what the doctor (or vampire or serial killer) has ordered to infiltrate your Halloween playlists. From distorted, doom-laden guitar tones and retrospective drum beats to hair raising electro sequences and synthwave tactics, this is the album that checks all the blocks for horrifying entertainment. Tape hisses and reverberated production efforts create a sinister ambiance that drives the mail in the coffin (no pun intended) for this masterful recording.
10. Ammothea – My God Is The Moon
Ammothea, the ambient-infused post metal project by Glacial Anatomy, is truly a riveting encounter that satisfies the pallet of those that enjoy the multi-genre experience. Soft, careening vocals, doom metal riffing and dreamy production yields a hypnotic effect, so that you can sit back, close your eyes and indulge in your own trip. These five tracks disperse almost sixty four minutes of playing time but, it’s over before you know it due to being completely lost in the mix of these alluring intonations. “Depth” and “My God Is The Moon” are standout tracks that incorporate a more upbeat approach without diverting away from the haunting gray that the entire album discharges. This is an extremely impressive release and I’m already looking forward to more from this artist.
11. Whöreplay – Whöreplay
A good dark wave tune goes hand in hand with the Halloween season, given its close ties to Gothic romanticism, vampires and grim landscapes. It also has provided bleak, atmospheric backdrops for scenes in classic horror films such as ‘Silence Of The Lambs’. This two track spectacle from newcomer, Whöreplay, fits right in with all of the aforementioned. Although only five minutes long, the artists wastes no time setting the listener on a collision course with haunting electronics, reverberated vocals, and a dreamy production. These tracks slice through like a jagged dagger, leaving a spot of coagulated blood for the creatures of the night to feast on.
12. Unsheathed Glory/Ozeregroth – Nights Shadow Darkening
There is no better time to come together for delivering a darkened dungeon synth experience than Halloween. Unsheathed Glory and Ozeregroth combine their talents of Medieval summonings to render a five track split album, culminating in twenty four minutes of effortless canticles set to the gloomiest night of the year. Not only does each artist produce two tracks of their own, but they collaborate on the daunting self title track. Although each artist delivers contrasting tones, they mesh together very well and and flow transparently with ominous accord. This is one of my favorite Dungeon Synth collaborations of the year and I hope these artist get together again in the future, to produce more music like this.
Additional forest photos courtesy of Carlton Whittle Photography. Please follow him on IG:
The main article image is a unique creation from the WOMBO Dream APP.