Horror Novelist Jeremy Wagner’s Top 10 Songs About Armageddon, Monsters + the Undead
Chicago death metal institution Broken Hope are known for their technical brutality and themes of gore, death and all things sick and twisted. Guitarist and founder Jeremy Wagner also doubles as a horror novelist, known for The Armageddon Chord, a Barnes & Noble Top 10 Paperback Bestseller. He's just released Rabid Heart, a novel about undying love as a zombie apocalypse takes over.
"Six months after the Necro Rabies pandemic turned the world into hordes of rabid undead known as 'Cujos,' 21-year-old Rhonda Driscoll discovers her zombified fiancé, Brad, in her old hometown. Fearing that her Marine Colonel father will kill undead Brad, Rhonda flees, taking a road-trip with Brad in tow in hopes of starting a new life in a frightening and uncertain world complicated by numerous perils, pure horror and unconditional love," reads the synopsis.
In celebration of this, we invited Wagner to pick his Top 10 Songs About Armageddon, Monsters & the Undead. Check 'em out below and to grab your copy of Rabid Heart at this location.
"Fight Fire With Fire," the fierce opening track on Metallica's second studio album, Ride the Lightning, is all about the freaking end of the world being caused by nuclear warfare.
Cue these lyrics: "Time is like a fuse / Short and burning fast / Armageddon's here / Like said in the past..."
Slayer's "Chemical Warfare" is another gem about armageddon via the dropping of chemical bombs to wipe out the human race without the destruction of bombs. I love this song for the amazing riffage and for the idea of the absolute hell of war.
"Gods on the throne must be watching from hell / Awaiting the mass genocide..."
Did you know that "Bela Lugosi's Dead" was recorded live in a single take? Pretty crazy to think about. I like that this song is so dark and also, a legit nod to horror film legend, Bela Lugosi (1882–1956) who we all owe the "modern" vampire image to. Lugosi died over 20 years before this song was written and recorded.
The Exorcist is one of my favorite horror movies, ever, and the amazing Possessed are one of my favorite thrash/proto-death metal bands as well. The fact that they wrote a song about The Exorcist endeared me to these guys even more.
"Sinners hate will die / The Exorcist... Exorcism takes control / Beneath my body help my soul / Save my soul from evil Hell..."
Anthrax have written a number of tunes in honor of Stephen King. My favorite King-inspired tune these guys put out is “Among the Living,” which is a worthy nod to King's, The Stand, which is also one of my fave King novels and it's about the Apocalypse and the monstrous Randall Flagg. Oh, and the song is heavy as Hell.
*This is one of my favorite Metallica songs. It's so goddamn heavy... the riffs just fucking crush and the guitar solo is pure evil. Moreover, this song is inspired by horror-fiction legend, H.P. Lovecraft, as it lyrically dives right into Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos. A monster-god with a watching eye ... horrifying gigantic, part human, part octopus, seeing instantly makes mortals insane, it truly is "The Thing That Should Not Be," and the song really brings this monstrous horror to life.
Not exactly a metal song or hard rocking song, but "Werewolves of London" still rocks. I love the song's catchiness — I used to play it on a bar jukebox over and over as a kid. But more than that, I love the lyrics because I absolutely LOVE werewolves! And Warren Zevon really breathed life into a lycanthrope howling at the moon and drinking a piña colada.
One last thing I adore about this song is that Zevon didn't shy away from the horror of a werewolf attack in his lyrics: "Little old lady got mutilated late last night / Werewolves of London again... You better stay away from him / He'll rip your lungs out, Jim..."
The story of The Bell Witch has always terrified me — and that's one reason I like the story, but the song by Mercyful Fate is also one of my fave MF songs. The song musically kicks ass and is super catchy and King Diamond's lyrics are also super-creepy and true to the legend. The Bell Witch or Bell Witch Haunting is a legend from Southern American folklore, about the 19th-century Bell family from Robertson County, Tennessee. John Bell Sr. and his family were attacked continually by an invisible entity that spoke and fucked up things like a poltergeist and it could shape-shift.
Once I knew the story and heard the lyrics, it all gets even creepier for me: "I am the air you breathe / I am the Bell Witch / I am a million years / I am the Bell Wiiiiiiiitch!!!"
So, it's no secret that I'm a huge Stephen King fan. So, this song instantly appealed to me because it was all about Stephen King's horrifying bestseller, Pet Sematary. From what I've learned about the backstory to the song is, the Ramones wrote this for their 1989 album Brain Drain, and was originally written for the Stephen King movie adaptation of the same name.
Moreover, Stephen King is a huge Ramones fan and once invited the Ramones to his home in Bangor, Maine, and during the visit, he handed Dee Dee Ramone a copy of Pet Sematary. Later, Dee Dee wrote the lyrics to "Pet Sematary." As with the other songs in this list, I really love the song, musically and lyrically! Probably my fave Ramones song, and I was happy I got to see them play it live once.
To be clear, I don't want to shoehorn my band in this list, but this time I felt it necessary. The theme here is about MONSTERS and the END of the WORLD, RIGHT?! Therefore, I felt it relevant to include the Broken Hope song (and title track of our 7th album), "Mutilated and Assimilated."
When I came up with the music and lyrics for “Mutilated and Assimilated,” I wanted to make the lyrics a direct tribute to John Carpenter’s The Thing and also as a tribute to the original novella, "Who Goes There?" by John W. Campbell Jr. written in 1938. I really wanted to lyrically pay tribute to that.
The Thing is my favorite horror movie! The insane concept of The Thing has always horrified me. I wanted to write a song about it and the other guys in the band loved the song title so much they wanted to call the album that. It is an alien creature that has traveled the universe and imitated a million life forms from a million planets. Now it’s on earth and wants to replicate humans and all earth species. How's THAT for a HORROR and ARMAGEDDON theme?