Herodotus, Virgil, Pliny the Elder, Ovid, Phil Lynott: many of history’s greatest writers have had their imaginations piqued by the transformation of men into wolves. The 1941 Universal Pictures movie The Wolf Man, starring Lon Chaney, served as the template for most subsequent lycanthropic narratives, including many of these hairy-handed, howling mad classics.
ICED EARTH – Wolf
The first and fastest track on Iced Earth’s faintly retrograde Horror Show LP, Wolf’s lyrics pay homage to the 1941 movie, echoing the poem written for the film: “Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf when the wolf bane blooms and the autumn moon is bright.”
METALLICA – Of Wolf And Man
On this Black Album classic Jaymz uses evocative lycanthrope imagery to draw parallels with his own burgeoning interest in shooting woodland creatures. “Hairs stand on the back of my neck” could be the sprouting fur of a werewolf, or just the excitement the Metallica frontman feels at slamming buckshot into Bambi’s mum.
OZZY OSBOURNE – Bark At The Moon
Ozzy’s lycanthropic transformation in his first, eagerly-anticipated video made perfect sense in 1984, when the Prince of Darkness was reaching the zenith of his feral, rampaging craziness. In 1999, fans could purchase a singing 18-inch doll of a extremely hirsute Ozzy. They’re still available in you poke around eBay.
THE CRAMPS – I Was A Teenage Werewolf
The Californian psychobilly horror punks The Cramps provided a musical setting for the trendsetting 1957 monster movie of the same name with this lurid, languid stomp, Lux Interior channelling all sorts of agony and ecstasy with his animalistic ejaculations. “I had to blow my top under the blood red moon…”
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TYPE O NEGATIVE – Wolf Moon
“I should tell you what Wolf Moon is about,” Type O Negative frontman Pete Steele announced on a 1998 Sonicnet chat. “It’s about a man who anytime engaging in oral sex with a menstruating woman, turns into a werewolf,” adding “As much as I do transform after the act, it is into a pink poodle. Quiche Lorraine.” We miss him.
THIN LIZZY – Old Moon Madness
A deeply charming, spooky curios from the three-piece Thin Lizzy’s 1971 New Day EP, with Phil Lynott sitting us down at the fireside for a cautionary tale about a howling noctural beast, ingeniously interpreted in Eric Bell’s extraordinary guitar solo. “And before you can get him sussed, he’s gone before dusk.”
STYX – Witch Wolf
A visceral, direct 1973 proto-metal scorcher from future pomp royalty Styx, with screaming solos, energised harmonies and rigorous double-bass drumming, plus turns of phrase presaging death metal lyric: “The doer of all that’s foul/Raping the minds of infants/Sower of unplanted seeds/Full moon warrior/Doer of sordid deeds”. Come Sail Away it ain’t.
RAINBOW – Run With The Wolf
Ronnie James Dio’s lyrics here, about “things that snap and bite” and “footsteps on the white”, have a more opaque, poetic quality than the usual straightforward horror movie narratives, but there’s undeniably an uneasy sense of feral supernatural evil hanging over Rainbow’s swaggering, mid-tempo lupine anthem.
GBH – Lycanthropy
Heavyweight punk UK82-style – and an audible influence on early Metallica, especially Hetfield’s yelp – Brummie foursome GBH’s debut EP Leather, Bristles, Studs And Acne eschewed punk polemics, here paying tribute to Universal’s 1941 classic The Wolf Man, incorporating the film’s “Even a man who is pure in heart” speech.
SONATA ARCTICA – Full Moon
Finnish pop-power-progsters Sonata Arctica have an abiding lupine fascination that dates back to this big-hitter from their 1999 debut. It seemingly concerns a man who fears his approaching transformation into a werewolf, but abandons plans to flee to a cornfield when he’s seduced by a randy lady. Result: “Mess on the floor again…”