If you’re a massive fan of horror and just watching movies and TV shows aren’t giving you the fix you need, then you need to start rocking out to some horror music.
There’s a plethora of bands out there creating music with all the blood, gore, murder, and creepiness you get from the visual horror mediums, but it’s directed to your ear holes through the power of music.
And best of, fantastic horror music isn’t limited to just metal. There’s punk, rap, rock, metal, and all sorts of genres with horror themes throughout the music.
Note: This might be obvious, but none of this music is family-friendly or safe for work.
When it comes to horror in music, punk is the genre that really set the tone and put the idea on the map. There’s one band that stands heads and shoulders above the rest, but they’re not the only ones mixing horror themes with punk music.
When it comes to horror punk, the genre really centers around Misfits. The punk powerhouse started producing horror-infused music in 1977 with its original lineup, and it actually just started touring again with frontman Glenn Danzig at the helm. And then there’s the controversial Michale Graves era, which brings its own style of horror punk to the scene.
Glenn Danzig apparently needed to fill the horror void left in his life after Misfits broke up, because immediately after he started Samhain. While not as beloved as Misfits (or his later work in Danzig), there are some good songs and some really dark themes that’ll entertain even the most die-hard horror fans.
3. 45 Grave
Misfits aren’t the only horror punk band to get started in the 70s, as 45 Grave hit the scene in 1979 and kept cranking out the dark and violent music until 1985 (and the band has been back with original vocalist Dinah Cancer since 2005). The band’s music is steeped in horror imagery and spooky-sounding music, so it should be a perfect sound for fans of horror punk.
AFI is the only modern band to make the cut in the horror punk genre, and they’re really responsible for introducing the subgenre to a whole new generation. With tracks like “Miss Murder” and “Girl’s Not Grey” reaching high positions on the charts.
The dark tone of metal music makes it well suited to adding horror elements, and there plenty of bands screaming their lungs out about murder, madness, and all the other stuff you’d expect to find in the world of horror.
5. Ice Nine Kills
Ice Nine Kills is currently one of my favorite bands, and the band’s most recent album might feature the purest horror-inspired tracks on the list. Each song on The Silver Scream is based on a popular horror franchise. There are songs about Friday the 13th, Halloween, Saw, and even The Crow (which isn’t technically horror, but it’s certainly dark). They even made a series of connected music videos that play out like a mini horror anthology.
The name of this band should certainly make you think about horror. And once you dig into the Swedish metal band’s catalog, you’ll find lots of dark lyrics that hit on all different aspects of horror. Add in the band’s aesthetic, and you have a band that’s clearly designed for horror fans.
7. Cannibal Corpse
This is another example of a band name evoking some pretty serious horror imagery. When people hear about death metal, this is probably the band most will think of first. Cannibal Corpse has been cranking out its own breed of growl-heavy horror music since 1988, and it’s still creating music to this day.
8. Motionless in White
Motionless in White has seen quite a bit of mainstream rock success of late, and it’s definitely deserving of the attention. The band’s music, is definitely dark, with some pretty violent imagery mixed with the catchy hooks and interesting verses. Motionless is not as growly as bands like Cannibal Corpse, so it should be more palatable for most.
Horror Rap (“Horrorcore”)
Horror rap is actually where I first discovered the idea of blending horror and music (yes, I was a huge fan of ICP throughout high school). It makes sense for rap to incorporate horror, as the clearly intelligible lyrics make it easy to tell a dark, twisted story.
9. Insane Clown Posse
When it comes to cracking the mainstream with horror-inspired rap lyrics, Insane Clown Posse is at the forefront (though Eminem does have some pretty dark, horror-like songs). Dating all the way back to the release of the Carnival of Carnage in 1992, ICP has been rapping murder, sex, and all things horror. Love the group or hate it, you have to respect the dedication.
The one-time proteges of ICP, Twiztid has carved its own niche within the horror rap genre. Personally, I think Twiztid is quite a bit better than ICP in terms of actual rap ability, though its music is a bit less theatric in nature. Still, Twiztid has some hard-hitting horror lyrics that fans of the genre will definitely appreciate.
If you’re looking for the Misfits of the horror rap genre, Esham is the artist you seek. He released his first horror rap (or as he tends to call it, Acid Rap) back in 1989 when he was just 16 years old. He’s still producing music today, and it’s just as dark and horrifying as ever.
When it comes to music that truly pushes the limits in terms of horrific imagery and violence, Q-Strange is at the forefront. While Q-Strange hasn’t made anything new recently, you can still take in his back catalog. Just make sure you’re mentally prepared because his stuff gets pretty dark.