Horror and heavy metal–they go together like peanut butter and chocolate. Why do these two great tastes taste so great together? There are some very obvious reasons, and I found myself thinking about them quite a bit when I attended a horror convention and a heavy metal music festival in the same weekend.
On Saturday July 18th, I spent the day selling books and hanging out at the Connecticut Horror Fest. My friends over at the Horror News Network put on another great show, and their star-studded guest lineup featured Doug Bradley (Pinhead in Hellraiser), Gunnar Hansen (Leatherface in Texas Chainsaw Massacre) and Felissa Rose (Angela in Sleepaway Camp).
I spent the entire day talking about horror with everyone that came up to the table. The passion and unity that horror inspires is amazing, and it was interesting how often our conversations would turn to music, and heavy metal in particular. On Sunday the 19th, I headed down to Hartford Connecticut for the Rockstar Mayhem Festival. Headlined by King Diamond and Slayer, the lineup also featured one of my favorite bands that I’d never seen before, Swedish rockers Sister Sin. Here’s a few pics, including one of me with Sister Sin singer Liv Jagrell.
So, even from these pics, you can see one of the common bonds that heavy metal and horror have–dark imagery. Whether it’s pentagrams and upside down crosses, apocalyptic lyrics, or demonic makeup and stage performances, heavy metal brings a lot of the same dark imagery we love in our horror stories to life. It’s an audio and visual representation of the words we love to scare ourselves with. And the pounding, thrashing, visceral nature of heavy metal music adds a physical element to the experience as well.
Which leads me to another–and perhaps the biggest–thing that horror and heavy metal have in common: the release they provide when you experience them. There is a catharsis to having the crap scared out of you by a good horror movie. It’s a purging of stress, anxiety and other bottled up emotions that allows you to deal just a little bit better with the real world. The same is true of heavy metal. The catharsis that comes with banging your head, throwing your fist (or horns) in the air and letting the music take you is a very cleansing experience. And much like seeing a midnight movie, heavy metal is best experienced with a group of fellow fans, which is why I love going to metal shows. Check out this amazing video of how Slayer opened their show at Mayhem Fest:
I still get the chills when I watch it. That weekend of horror and heavy metal was like a two-day therapeutic retreat for me. For many of us–and certainly for me–horror and heavy metal are like medicine.