So October 31 is once again upon us. Halloween. The night when we usher in the darker half of the year and remember the dead. When ghouls, ghosts and other creatures of the night are said to walk among us.
Those of us in the know are all aware that prog can hold its own in the dark, sombre and morbid stakes. So we've dug out a few of our favourite prog tunes from the grim side of the track to help you enjoy your proggy Halloween just a little bit more...
Mike Oldfield - Tubular Bells
Only the opening theme from Mike Oldfield's groundbreaking debut album was used as what is now regarded as the main title of the classic 1973 horror film The Exorcist. Director William Friedkin, having canned Lalo Schifrin's original score, was looking for something with "a childhood feel", like Brahms' Lullaby. Visiting the office of Atlantic Records boss Ahmet Ertegun, he picked up some what label vinyl, one of which was Tubular Bells, which the label weren't considering releasing. The minute he heard the intro Friedkin knew he had his music And Oldfield's album went on to sell over 15 million copies!
Kate Bush - Hammer Horror
The title may reference the legendary UK production company famous for its garishly coloured horror films of the 60s and 70s, but Hammer Horror is actually inspired by the actor James Cagney portraying horror film actor Lon Chaney in The Man of A Thousand Faces, in which he's playing The Hunchback of Notre Dame!
Steven Wilson - The Raven That Refused To Sing
Given that it's an album comprised of ghost stories, how could we not start with Steven Wilson's title track to his 2013 album? A song about an old man nearing the end of his life, haunted by images of his dead sister and a raven, that just refuses to sing for him...
Magenta - Bela
Magenta's 2020 album, Masters Of Illusion, was Robert reed's homage to the horror films that he loved as a child, and still does to this day. Opening track Bela is inspired by Dracula actor Bela Lugosi.
Arena - One Last Au Revoir
Arena's 2011 album The Seventh Degree Of Separation was a concept album about a man witnessing his own death and funeral. Jolly stuff eh? The song was also nominated for a Prog Award no less.
Van der Graaf Generator - A Plague Of Lighthousekeepers
From 1971's Pawn Hearts, this side-long song depicts a lighthouse keeper tormented by seeing people die in the sea that surrounds him. Not exactly Jollity Farm...
Genesis - The Lamia
From the band's epic 1975 album The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, The Lamia takes its title from the mythological woman who becomes a child-eating monster when her own children are murdered. Zeus also deprived her of sleep, so her anguish was constant. Nice
Dream Theater - A Nightmare To Remember
From Dream Theater's 2009 album Black Clouds & Silver Linings, the last to feature drummer and founding member Mike Portnoy, this epic opening track was written by guitarist John Petrucci abut a childhood car accident!
Nightwish - Scaretale
From Nightwish's 2011 concept album Imaginaerum, the original title for the song was Haunted Mansion Ride, given the song is an homage to the Disney ride of the same name, and references the ride's song Grim Grinning Ghosts. It's a sing all about children's nightmares. Enter Sandman, anyone?
Goblin - Profondo Rosso
From the soundtrack to Dario Argento's legendary 1975 giallo movie, for which, having failed to get Pink Floyd to write the soundtrack, Argento turned to Italian prog rockers Goblin, whose score helped put them, and Argento, on the map.
Shubb-Niggaruth - La Ballade de Lenore
This French zeuhl band are named after one of Lovecraft's deities from Cthulu. If that's not scary enough, listen to this eerie nine minutes of haunting vocal-led music intro that dissolves into sonic dissonance.
The Enid - Something Wicked This Way Comes
Any song that takes its title from Ray Bradbury's creepy 1962 novel deserves to be on any Halloween list.
Black Widow - Come To The Sabbat
Acid folk, folk horror and prog combine on this, Black window's best-known song from their 1970 album Sacrifice, all haunting themes of Satanism and the occult. "Come to the Sabbat, Satan's there..." indeed.
Comus - Drip Drip
Acid folk proggers Comus were quite terrifying. None more so than on their 1971 debut First Utterance and this tale of harrowing violence…
King Crimson - Epitaph
Although ostensibly a ballad, this emotive track from the band's 1969 In The Court Of The Crimson King debut, the despairing vocal from Greg Lake encapsulates the harrowing fears of the time of nuclear war.
Rush - Witch Hunt
This eerie sounding track from Moving Pictures became part of Rush's Fear series of songs, that also includes The Weapon from Signals, The Enemy Within from Grace Under Pressure and Freeze from Vapor Trails.
John Carpenter - Halloween
And last, but by no means least, how could we have a Halloween playlist without the prog-loving horror master John Carpenter's original theme music for the movie Halloween itself. Stay safe out there folks...
Muse - You Make Me Feel Like It's Halloween
Featuring a fun video which throws up all manner of horror film tropes ( see how many you can spot), this cut from Muse's most recent The Will Of The People album features sinister organ music, a blistering guitar break from Matt Bellamy and a suitably 80s synth driven melody. Enjoy...