Horror Metal Sounds – May 2013

Friday, 24th May 2013

This is the first of what should be many columns regarding the connection between metal and horror films from our own Ken Gallant. As you’ll read below, Ken knows his stuff (and has a glaring affinity for Lizzy Borden, but we won’t delve too far into that). So read on, and enjoy! – David E. Gehlke

I was flipping through the website Bloody Disgusting and I caught site of an old article dating back to 2010 listing the 10 cheesiest “Heavy Metal Horror Flicks” of all time. I won’t go through this list film by film, but I will take umbrage with Black Roses slotted in at number six. For those of you who do not know, Black Roses was the second feature film directed by John Fasano, released in the late summer of 1988 and showcasing a heavy metal soundtrack. As far as I am concerned, the movie is without question one of heavy metal horror’s biggest cult films of all time and should be ranked at the number one position.

HMS 5Now I understand that some people might think I am biased about the movie because I have interviewed the director for Fangoria magazine, but I will argue against that. Talking to John was indeed thrilling, but my love for this film goes much deeper than that. In fact the film was shot in a year of great importance culturally for those into horror movies and heavy metal, and since this is the inaugural installment of Horror Metal Sounds, what better of a way to get this new column started by examining the year 1988 in which Black Roses was made.

Some will argue that 1986 was the better year given how films like Trick or Treat and Zombie Nightmare brought out the metal in Spades. We had cameos by Ozzy Osborne and Gene Simmons in Trick or Treat and Zombie Nightmare had Jon Mikl Thor appearing in it. In some circles, this would be the obvious year to start the discussion, but I am picking 1988 for more obvious reasons. Firstly, I was 19 years old and a full fledged, card carrying member of the metal head community and secondly, I was an obsessed cinema gorehound. Both go hand-in-hand as far as I am concerned, especially since my love affair for these genres took off after watching Black Roses for the first time.

So let’s start with some facts in music history to augment this piece. Cannibal Corpse was formed in that year, proving that gore and heavy music could coalesce into a new sickening sound called death metal. Anthrax released State of Euphoria and it featured a song called “Misery Loves Company” inspired by the Stephen King novel Misery. Rigor Mortis released their punishing debut album with horror film related titles like “Wizard of Gore” and “Re-Animator.” I believe they also ran several ads in Fangoria magazine to help promote them in the States. Girlschool released the album Take a Bite that borrowed the famous scene of Bela Lugosi’s Dracula fixated on the neck of actress Gloria Holden for the sleeve design. Ozzy was no stranger to the genre utilizing horror themes in his music by incorporating lyrical content about the devil and apocalyptic terrors on No Rest for the Wicked.

maiden-seventhOf course one cannot forget the contributions of Iron Maiden’s Seventh Son of a Seventh Son which dips into the world of the occult and mysticism for lyrical inspiration. The album was a concept record conceived around the number seven, and also sparked by Scott Orson Card’s novel Seventh Son and the death of psychic Doris Stokes. Metallica let loose their magnum opus …And Justice for All and it was bolstered by “One” the horrific song detailing the impact and after effects of war on the human condition. King Diamond answered the call with Them and boy did it ever deliver a chilling portrait of dementia and spiraling human madness. Slayer came roaring back with South of Heaven and was brimming with darkness all around. I would think “Ghosts of War” and the title track “South of Heaven” fit perfectly into this theme.

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