The Noisey Guide to Having a Heavy Metal Halloween
From tunes to costumes to nefarious activities, we've got you covered. Good luck, have fun, and don’t fear the Reaper.
Illustration by Chris Krovatin
Heavy metal and Halloween—on paper, this combination seems obvious. And yet, for some reason, they don't always mix well. Often Halloween's childish good times aren't quick to invite rowdy headbangers to the party, while metalheads are so caught up in the seriousness of their "lifestyle" that October 31st is deemed a bunch of bullshit for babies who don't know what real evil is.
But there's a sweet spot, where the retro aesthetics and reckless morbidity of these two cultural traditions come together in an explosion of skulls, bats, and raised blades dripping with blood. A perfect place, where Halloween is taken one step darker and metal's modern gravitas is laughed at and traded for its original obsessions with monsters, witchcraft, and the party. This sweet spot is Heavy Metal Halloween, the ultimate expression of laughing in the face of Death.
For most metal fans, Heavy Metal Halloween comes naturally; like their love of the music in the first place, they just go for it, never knowing why. But this shouldn't exclude those who haven't taken The Oath from joining in on the fun. The beauty of Halloween is that you can be whoever you want, and if Satanic Rocker is your monster of choice (we'll get to that), then you should feel free to go for it.
Here, submitted for the approval of the Midnight Society, is Noisey's guide to having the ultimate Heavy Metal Halloween. Good luck, have fun, and don't fear the Reaper.
I'm sure some of you assume you need to buy that "Crazy Rock Star" wig and choker down at Spirit Halloween to go full metal, but that's a mistake. Heavy Metal Halloween was born of the Satanic Panic of the 1980s, during the height of the depiction of metalheads as monsters. If you want to dress up as something specific, you can, but the beauty here is that being a metalhead is enough. Here are some go-to outfits to get you started.
Black thrash gear and mask: Start with the go-to gear of a Satanic thrasher—leather jacket, leather pants or black jeans, studded belt and bracelets. Top this all off with a store-bought Halloween mask. Now you're ready to worry parents all over town. Plastic machete optional.
Metal formal wear: Given that Halloween is a high holiday for those dedicated to darkness, and that the Gothic tradition is all about fancy dress, some twisted or altered formalwear is allowed. A tuxedo with no sleeves, spattered with blood? Great. A black princess dress with tons of fishnets? Super.
Too-small kids' costume: This look really drives home that we're taking a kid's holiday and making it twisted and dark. Take a small kid's costume and put it on. Come on, squeeze into it, there were go. Now, stretch—touch your toes, twist, and lunge. Either the costume is ripped in all the right places, or now you know where to tear it to make it fit. Add a cheesy hat or mask for color. Works best if you've got a ton of tattoos.
Bondage gear: Just fucking go for it. Tonight's a night to live out your weirdest fantasies, and nothing says "Good times for bad people" like a studded leather harness. They can judge you the other 364 days of the year.
Obviously, you can't celebrate Heavy Metal Halloween without spooky metal blaring out of the van you're driving to the place where you'll surely be murdered. Here are some bands that perfectly capture the madcap soul of metal's marriage to the Sabbath Of The Undead.
Acid Witch might be the ultimate modern Heavy Metal Halloween band, and maybe the only true one of all time. Their psychedelic doom-death sound mixed with their love of slasher movies, black magic, and weed creates an atmosphere that hails back to the good ol' 1980s, when horror movies were golden and the Satanic Panic was in full swing.
Too many bands take Satanism too seriously, but King Diamond and Co. understood the inherent theatricality needed to worship the Dark Lord. The Fate's inimitable falsetto vocals and guitar wizardry make them metal enough for opera claws but hilarious enough for putting on capes and facepaint.
Hair metal-era Alice Cooper
"But Alice was coolest as a weird 70s sex fiend!" you whine in hipster fury. Well, yeah, exactly. Halloween's not a night to worry about being cool. It wasn't until he went full metal that Alice went total Hammer Horror. Listen to Alice singing about being eighteen the rest of the year; tonight, it's all about referencing Vincent Price.
While Acid Witch is all about the Eighties, Electric Wizard is pure Seventies horror, full of satin-lined coffins and Lovecraftian rituals viewed through billowing candle smoke. They're just serious enough to make you consider devoting your life to the Devil, and then they sing a song about Count Drugula. Awesome.
Halloween is a night of madness and Dionysian frenzy, and few bands embody that like White Zombie. Their groovy agro metal broadens the cultural palette of our Halloween from typical horror to all manner of weird shit like circus performers and flying saucers. Sometimes, when dancing around the fire in the graveyard, taking your shirt off is the only option.
Creepsylvania or bust! Borrowing from all corners of the horror genre, the masked thrashers of Ghoul bring hilarious energy and pants-shittingly fun thrash riffs to the Halloween party. Think of them as the low-budget zombie flick that breaks up the straight-faced vampire movie marathon.
Two principles need to be exercised during Heavy Metal Halloween. The first is indulgence in stereotypical metalhead behavior. You can argue about social consciousness and save the fucking whales the rest of the year; tonight, get dark with it. The second is foolhardiness. Tempt fate and ignore grave warnings. Worst-case scenario, you end up a told-you-so ghost when the Horrible Thing murders you for your trespasses.
Exhume a corpse: I don't know when digging up a dead body nestled in my mind as the ultimate metal act, but to this day it remains my benchmark for true metaldom. Go to a graveyard, dig up a human body, and take photos with it while getting hammered on whiskey. The more rotten, the better. It's not like the deceased is going to suddenly come alive and grab you by the throat… right?
Dabble in the occult: Emphasis on "dabble"—If you're going to dutifully perform an actual magic ritual, you need to be sober, practiced, and ready with the sage. For Heavy Metal Halloween, mix some of your blood with high-proof liquor and spit it into a candle next to a Oujia board. Read The Grand Grimoire in an unsteady voice at midnight. Play with powers beyond your understanding.
Exploring that weird old house that everyone tells stories about: Every town has that house—that decrepit old place where someone got ax-murdered, or that everyone claims is inhabited by an inhuman creature. Hell House, the Marsten house, the Myers house—you know, the cursed places. Get some flashlights and a boombox and go have a party there. Listen for voices down the hall when all your guests are in the room.
Arson: Only for the advanced metalhead, and only in abandoned buildings (Noisey does not condone laughing maniacally while watching a farmhouse burn long into the night).
Heavy Metal Drawlloween: Drawlloween (also known as Inktober) is for the Remedial US History doodler in us all. Every day of October, you draw a different Halloween-themed picture. For Heavy Metal Drawlloween, just replace your traditional Halloween topics with heavy metal songs or albums. I've attached a calendar of my own creation to show you how this shit is done.
Horror movies are an intrinsic part of any All Hallow's Eve, and Heavy Metal Halloween is no different. The requirements are simple: gore, dated references, and hilarious portrayals of metalheads.
Trick Or Treat: The standard. After dying in a fire, heavy metal psycho Sammi Curr visits his biggest fan as an electricity-fueled Satanic ghost. The film features a classic soundtrack by Fastaway and cameos by Ozzy and Gene Simmons. No wimps! No false metal!
Fright Night: Horny horror-obsessed Charlie Brewster discovers his suave new neighbor is a vampire. And not some stylish goth either—the real deal, an ancient evil. The best character in this flick, though, is Charlie's headbanger pal Evil Ed, who later becomes a gruesome Nosferatu. You're so cool, Brewster!
Friday The 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan: The terror of Crystal Lake haunts a Big Apple-bound ship in this total cheese-fest. The glam metal chick being murdered with her pink Flying V is the stuff of cinematic legend.
Motel Hell: What's actually in Farmer Vincent's prize-winning sausage? Among other things, Ivan & The Terribles, a weed-smoking metal band in a barbarian-painted van. If you want a real far-out lo-fi classic, look no further than this gem.
Dethgasm: While not necessarily retro, this New Zealand splatterfest decently captures the atmosphere of modern metal—and also involves a scene where a demonically-possessed Christian couple gets beaten to death with sex toys. Yeah, it's like that.
While "ready for anything" is a necessary mantra for Heavy Metal Halloween, certain behaviors need to be left at home. Here are some things to avoid if you don't want to ruin the heaviest of holidays.
Serious cultural criticism: No religion, no politics. Heavy Metal Halloween is all about having fun, and the minute you get your unmovable personal principles involved, fun dies, quick. You can spend the rest of the year standing up for what you believe—tonight, your only agenda should involve booze, candy, and black magic.
"Kvlt" black metal: Sorry, Lord Mopesalot, no one cares. Your humorless depressive examinations of the pain one feels at being trapped in the conservative Hell of the Christian world is, well, super boring, and you can't dance to any of that shit. Tomorrow, you can resume the endless winter. For now, it's the harvest.
Cruelty towards children: Kids know what's up—they're all about having a good time and pissing off authority figures on Halloween. As such, fuck anyone who ruins Halloween for a kid. There are plenty of metalhead stereotypes worth embracing on this day—the shitty bully ain't one of them.
"This is my costume" because "every day is Halloween": UUUUUNGH, AREN'T WE DARK! I get it, tonight is amateur hour and everyone's playing at what you do for real. If that's the case, your job is to up the ante tonight. If they get spooky, you get spookier. If they scream, you wail.
For Chris Krovatin, every day really is Halloween—but especially today. He's haunting Twitter.