Metal does ‘evil’ brilliantly, but it rarely does ‘creepy’ - not in the truly malevolent, menacing way that makes your flesh want to slide off your body and crawl into the corner to hide. Horror-fixated proto-metal revivalists Possessor are having none of that – their new album, Damn The Light, wears its love of the eerily horrific on its tattered denim sleeves. Which is why we’ve asked guitarist/vocalist Graham Bywater and drummer Nathan Perrier to take us by the hand and lead us gingerly through the 10 creepiest metal songs known to man or ghoul.
1349 – I Am Abomination
Graham: I discovered this album knowing very little about the band and perhaps that’s why it scared the shit out of me the way it did. What begins as a wild but inviting utterance of the word ‘HELLFIRE’ the song doesn’t let up for a second. Lightning speed, almost inhuman drum work from Frost, tortured yet disturbingly tuneful guitar shredding and a frayed yet demented vocal display that seems to come from the deepest bowels of hades itself, 1349 nailed everything on this record, demonstrating exactly why black metal remains a feared and still often taboo genre.
Nirvana – Paper Cuts
Graham: For anyone introduced to Nirvana via the more radio friendly songs from Nevermind, some of the material from Bleach must come off as quite shocking. Paper Cuts is a hugely unpleasant musical journey into the heart of darkness, displaying the bands more visceral side and openly showcasing their undying love for pals the Melvins. Kurt Cobain wrote this menacing, nerve shredding tune after reading a story in the news about a family who kept their kids locked up in the attic of their house in the band's hometown of Aberdeen. As he screams and moans his was through a thick, tar like trudge of a riff, an unusually creepy solice can be found in the simple one word chorus that finds the frontman almost groaning the word ‘nirvana’; creating an almost gut wrenching and sarcastic sense of dread given the subject matter.
Kreator - Ripping Corpse
Graham: One of the most unhinged and frantic openings to an album ever! Hell, they aren’t even playing in time for the first few bars, the first proper track on Kreator’s second full length album Pleasure To Kill is quite simply terrifying. The barbaric, wild abandon of the riffs, the truly bizarre and almost amateur drums of Ventor, the vicious and neurotic tone in which Mille Petrozza delivers his tales of a madman invading and killing a family all bombard and pulverise the listener until the band speed to a stop like a derailed freight train flying off the track.
Megadeth - Mary Jane
Graham: ‘Her voice rides on the breeze… oh, it's haunting me’. These lyrics sum up the hypnotic and genuinely frightening music Dave Mustaine and co were pumping out in 1988. Drugged to the gills and paranoid to the point of collapse, the odd and unpredictable songwriting formula found in this track sounds like the final words of a madman roaming a cemetery at midnight. I’ve been listening to So Far, So Good, So What! for over 30 years now and it never ceases to make me want to check under the bed before I sleep at night, such is the overwhelming and claustrophobic taste of foreboding this dark and fucked up tale leaves in my mouth.
Mercyful Fate – A Dangerous Meeting
Nathan: There are two types of people in the world, those who think The Exorcist is funny and those who feel the pervasive terror of Pazuzu. Same with King Diamond. I fall into the camp who love to writhe in the horror of it all. A Dangerous Meeting is a satanic horror tale to beat them all. The haunting falsetto is matched by spectral riffs and a power from hell. Enter at your peril.
Danzig – Sistinas
Nathan: Glenn Danzig has never shied away from the dark stuff. From hacking the heads off little girls in the Misfits through Samhain and the classic first four Danzig albums he has touched on all the horror business. On lll - How the Gods Kill, Sistinas stands alone as a haunting nostalgia trip to a derelict midwestern diner on some long forgotten highway. Bleak and foreboding, imagine Roy Orbison penning a track for David Lynch to soundtrack how it feels to die alone. Spine chilling.
Autopsy – An Act Of The Unspeakable
Graham: Autopsy make horrid, perverse music that can really distress the listener. Which is what death metal should do right? Their third and most demented record Acts Of The Unspeakable was a total mind fuck, lyrically and musically… but mainly lyrically. The (almost) title track is a ferocious swirling mass of danger and lunacy, opening with a morose lick that sends shivers down the spine before plunging into a grotesque middle eight in which Chris Reifert – an absolutely lovely man in real life – howls, ‘You fucking whore! Fuck you!’ with such hatred and vitriol I’m often tempted to skip to the next track. Add to that a truly barbaric and deliberately messy production tone and you’re left with a very nasty piece of work.
Church Of Misery - Candy Man
Graham: Japan’s finest Sabbath infused sludgemongers write exclusively about serial killers, making sure they cover each and every of history’s scumbags in their ever expanding catalogue of the macabre. Candy Man is about Dean Corll and it’s unsurprisingly a disgusting song. Not only does it feature what I think is the best doom riff ever written but the ear drum smashing rhythm section swing and batter the listener to pieces, assuring you feel just like one of Corll’s victims. Grim and goddamn groovy. I love this band to death and beyond.
Celtic Frost – A Dying God Coming Into Human Flesh
Nathan: Celtic Frost have always been pushing boundaries, whether you like it or not. Hell, there’s even some good stuff on Cold Lake. But after a long hiatus the news came that they were back with a new album Monotheist. This time instead of pushing boundaries, it was as though they’d been buried alive and were pushing coffin lids instead. The whole record is cold, hard and nihilistic. A Dying God Coming Into Human Flesh slows the pace right down: it’s like listening to a freezing deity drifting into death, relentless yet paced like a lunar eclipse. Tom G Warrior was clearly exorcising some demons. This song is dark, sad and creepy as fuck.
Slayer – South of Heaven
Nathan: While Reign In Blood may be the Slayer’s most celebrated work, South Of Heaven will always be my favourite. To me they always sounded ten times scarier at half the tempo and the title track to this album is no exception. It’s absolutely nightmarish! How Rick Rubin captured such a pure and unfiltered evil is a mystery. No other record sounds like South Of Heaven and probably never will.
Buying the tape from Woolworths at the age of 11 it certainly made me feel that perhaps I’d gone too far, started messing with things I shouldn’t have and had truly stepped over to the other side. It’s also worth mentioning that I got away with having this song at my wedding reception. My wife rules.
Possessor’s Damn The Light is available now via Bandcamp