“When you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you,” Nietzsche promised in Beyond Good and Evil, but Mr. Philosophize with a Hammer never did recommend any appropriate mood music for making goo-goo eyes at the infernal regions. Which is why it is such a great thing for we lovers of darkness that the world’s preeminent horror culture magazine Rue Morgue continues to DJ the end times via Hymns From the House of Horror Vol. III, another entry in the magazine’s popular series of free, limited time downloads of “rare, exclusive and otherwise hard-to-find horror music.”
The first two Hymns volumes were annual multi-track compilations featuring such Decibel familiars as Blood Ceremony, Cauldron, Rammer, and GWAR. Beginning with Vol. III, however, the glorious punishment will be meted out monthly to allow for “more timely…ceremonial offerings.” The first track, “Olivia (Object of My Infection)” from horror folk-punks Harley Poe, is available now and heavier fare, we are assured, looms on the not-so-distant horizon.
“We like to have a good balance of all the monsters, for sure — zombies, vampires, werewolves, murderers,” Rue Morgue Assistant Editor Trevor Tuminski chuckles when asked how he determines a song is heinous enough for the hallowed halls of the House of Horror. “Actually, people can be a little bit skeptical about bands that tap into the horror genre for inspiration. They worry the music is going to be kitschy or jokey. I hope the Hymns compilations show people that there are a lot of bands bringing horror elements into their music in really interesting, diverse, unorthodox ways.”
Since we had a bona fide horror culture expert on the line who also happens to be well-versed in the cacophonous folkways of heavy metal — the Rue Crew is known to blast Nine Inch Nails, Alice Cooper, and Skinny Puppy in the magazine’s funeral home lair, and recently journeyed en masse to participate in a Toronto Ghost ritual — the question had to be asked: Why is there so much overlap between the Rue Morgue and Decibel wheelhouses? Why is it so much easier for Decibel to put together a zombie themed issue than one on, say, Nora Ephron (e.g., I Feel Bad About MY Neck, Too…From Headbanging!; A Cannibal Corpse tribute to When Harry Met Sally, etc)?
“There is a larger than life escapism to be found in dark art,” Tuminski posits. “People who go to horror movies are always chasing the bigger fear. They’re always looking for new interpretations of the fantastical that push further, in much the same way amusement park fans always want to ride the tallest, fastest rollercoaster — and as soon as they get off they’re looking for an even taller, faster one. It’s this natural interest in escalation and stretching our own boundaries, I think, that horror and heavy metal fans share.”
These are affinities and synergies Tuminski hopes to further stoke through both the excellent Audio Drome section of Rue Morgue and the Hymns compilations during this moment of “horror zeitgeist.”
“I would love to believe these compilations are helping to steer fans of dark music and horror films and literature toward other art forms they may not have experienced before,” he says. “That’s probably a lofty aspiration for what is essentially a monstrous mix-tape, but I don’t think it’s at all impossible.”