In time for Halloween (just!) here are the five spookiest releases from this year. Ranging from trap to metal, I guarantee something here will make your spine tingle. Only music released this year was considered, in an effort to keep the fright fresh.

RL Grime – Halloween 7

This is the reason for the season. RL Grime’s annual Halloween mix is back, featuring new mixes of the biggest bangers of the year (and some slightly older gems) interspersed with horror classics like threatening voice overs, spooky keyboards, screams, and classic horror sound effects. This year the mix is introduced by Shaq (“My stuff sounds like dinosaurs playing laser tag with Elon Musk!”). Oh, and famed Goosebumps author RL Stine is back with another cameo this year. If this all sounds a bit ridiculous, that’s because it is. But it’s also an annual tradition, a must-listen that bangs from front-to-back.

Listen: RL Grime – Halloween 7 

John Carpenter – Halloween (2018)

Is it a bit obvious to include a soundtrack to a movie called Halloween in a post about Halloween music? Likely. Does this new soundtrack deserve to be in this post? Absolutely! Revisit one of the most iconic horror soundtracks of all time composed by John Carpenter himself (with help from his son and Daniel Davies). Though instantly familiar, the music has been heavily reworked and re-written for the new film and it is way better than it has any right to be. This is the first Halloween movie to feature any involvement by Carpenter since Halloween III: Season of the Witch (from 1982).

Listen: John Carpenter – “Halloween Theme” ▶

Puce Mary – The Drought

The most unsettling album of the year, hands down. Puce Mary’s excellent The Drought features slowly building waves of dissonant electronic chaos, slowly engulfing the listener. The electronics are Interspersed with Frederikke Hoffmeier’s haunting vocals and reflections on what it means to be human, to connect with other humans, technology, and trauma. A sample:

It makes me weak to watch you gaze at the world like there’s nothing left
It makes me sick to open my body to you
To give you all I have

If I can possess you
Like I possess my own body
To possess is to be in control

I put my hands on your body, on your flesh
I feel the history of that body
When I put my hands on your body, I feel the history of that body

If I could attach your blood vessels
So that we could become each other I would
If I could open your body and
Slip up inside your skin

Listen: Puce Mary – “To Possess is to Be In Control” ▶

Daughters – You Won’t Get What You Want

Dreary. The picture painted by the first Daughters album in 8 years is of a dreary, boring dystopia. The music, in keeping with this image, is suitably sludgy. Many songs build slowly, and Alexis Marshall’s talk-singing, groans, and yelps punctuate the image. It’s brutal, it’s a slog, but it’s great music and perfectly suited for this time of year.

This city is an empty glass
Words do nothing
No one sleeps
This city is an empty glass […]

This city is an empty glass
The buildings shriek
As everything weeps
This city is an empty glass

Listen: Daughters – “Less Sex” ▶

High on Fire – Electric Messiah

This is old-school metal at its best. High-speed, crushing riffs, and a sprinkle of thrash to mix up the formula. And, like the best classic metal music, the lyrics are all about demons and ghost armies and ancient spirits rising. A taste:

Spewn from the earth
Deep in Terra’s girth
Old ones from below, once the spell awakens
Comes the armies never known

Goliath now awakens
Fallen Babel’s wraiths
Lost the golden age
Tramples at the temple, once the people are enslaved

Gone insane
Feel the ancient wrath
Gone Insane
Lords of the pasts

Listen: High on Fire – “Spewn from the Earth” ▶