Despite a glut of sunny days and even sunnier bands, Denver produces plenty of spooky music. The local scene offers all stripes of metal, from doom to death; avant-garde performance and noise acts rooted in ritual and fury; and even bloody and booze-soaked undead artists playing sea shanties and classic punk.
So when you're putting together your Halloween playlist, you have plenty of local acts to choose from. Here are ten of our picks:
Fueled by searing riffs and brutal, propulsive rage, black-metal outfit Blood Incantation dishes out interplanetary horror. The music is as instrumentally complex as its lyrics are grandiose, offering sweeping narratives and a sound that's as terrifying as the band's name. Beware: The music is so electrifying, your hair might stand on end.
Black-metal band Crafteon boasts a name that nods to master horror writer H.P. Lovecraft. Fronted by a literature teacher by day who performs as Lord Mordiggian at night, the group offers Lovecraftian lyrics with a sound inspired by both Swedish black metal and Iron Maiden. The songs deal with the horror writer's myths and life's swirling emotional chaos.
Avant-garde industrial band Echo Beds makes noisy, angry music out of traditional instruments and found objects, performing songs that delve into depression and grief. While they'll give you goosebumps and are suitably terrifying for the season, this music is as earnestly angry as music can be, summoning demons without an ounce of kitsch.
Unlike the previous bands on this list, Hail Satan! embraces the goofy side of metal, and while it makes occasionally gory, always heavy music, the bandmates never take themselves too seriously. They are at their most spectacularly gruesome and hilarious in "I Will Eat You," a song about cannibalizing Nazis that has inspired cooking shows and collaborations with horror festivals, as well as a small cult following.
This 57-member avant-garde percussion troop summons the spirit of Halloween 365 days a year, with mercurial tricks, metaphysical rituals, bizarre costumes, fanciful props and all the fire anyone could ignite without burning the city down. From its early days as an experimental noise/projection project to a party-crashing marching band to its current iteration as a troupe devoted to full-throttle mythological spectacle, Itchy-O is constantly evolving and always exhilarating.
With epic songs rooted in mythologies of death and violence, doom-metal band Khemmis has made waves internationally, with a sound guaranteed to induce head-banging and visions of humanity struggling against its own destruction. Wrangling with suicide, despair and punishment, the band's music makes it a little easier to cope with the harder side of life.
Maris the Great
A crass performance artist, music journalist and gay zombie who makes music with his punk band the Faggots of Death, Maris the Great has created a career out of murdering fellow musicians in gory takeovers of their sets; no other Denver performer has taken the undead shtick as seriously. Although he retired in 2015, Maris returned to the scene this year, to slaughter In the Whale and other bands. While he's as gory as they come, he's also hilarious...in an unsettling sort of way.
A member of Slim Cessna's Auto Club, Jay Munly pushes the limits of the brooding side of the Denver Sound in his projects Munly & the Lupercalians and Munly & the Lee Lewis Harlots. With a ghostly look and an intensity matched by no other, Munly is a ferocious banjoist and singer; as a songwriter, he captures the grim side of life with a frantic energy.
Fronted by Ethan McCarthy, this three-piece metal band makes rabid, noisy metal that tackles the state of the world with an aggressive hopelessness mustered by few others. There is nothing pleasant about this music, which is as harsh as sound gets, a voluminous outcry of depression and fury that matches the lowest lows humans can feel. It's the stuff of personal torment and global failure. Nothing's scarier than that.
The Widow's Bane
Clay Rose's grotesque, undead alter-ego, Mortimer Leech of the Widow's Bane, is an awful person — booze-drenched, crass and cruel. Legend has it that he was born in 1774, slaughtered his wife and woke up on a ship commandeered by the Devil himself. His survival depends on his ability to front the band the Widow's Bane, and along the way, he performs frightful music inspired by pirate songs, klezmer and folk that captures the sounds of this spookiest of seasons.
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