The Monster Mash-Up collection is always at the top of my list of seasonal projects, and The Curse of Monster Mash-Up is no exception. This two volume set hits numerous diabolical highs with cuts like Thriftshop XL's gritty remix of "Bring the Noise" and Socolfn dubstep-y "Zombie Planet." It includes all the usual suspects – VOICEDUDE's "SCARY CUDA" is oddly satisfying, as is fettdog's "Texas Whip It" – but newer names like brutal redneck ("lily monster aquaviva") also manage to stand out among the album's best. Still, likely the finest selections come from stalwarts DJ BC (the project's original curator who'll again be taking the reins for next year's comp) and current coordinator cheekyboy.
It turns out the cheeky has instead turned his attention to creating original music, and another appropriate release, Sam Haynes's Halloween Carnival, comes courtesy of his evil alter ego. Created as an album that's both podsafe and specifically engineered to serve as ambient music for holiday haunted attractions, Halloween Carnival runs the gamut from the delicate "Creeper" to the dynamic "Haunted House" to the aggro disco of "Something Wicked." Of all this year's releases, this one was certainly the most surprising as well as the most cohesive. Definitely pick it up if you're looking to inject a little atmospheric creepiness into your Halloween festivities.
For those in the market for more rock-inspired instrumentals, I suggest the Something in the Dark EP by one man band Nocturnal Symphony. The light keys of intro "Cellar Dweller" quickly give way to the massive bass and smart leads of what is easily my favorite take on "Trioxin Theme" from Return of the Living Dead, and it only gets crazier from there. Paying tribute to beloved properties like Evil Dead while simultaneously exploring wholly original soundscapes, it's a satisfying slice of symphonic metal that's available for whatever you choose to pay. But maybe you should hit this guy with a couple of bucks for his trouble; David, the man behind the mask, is actually my officemate, and I know he's not exactly making mad bank at his day job.
Surely the biggest arrival on the hip-hop front is the debut full-length from Canadian trio Swamp Thing. Consisting of rapper/producer extraordinaire Timbuktu, Savilion (whose guest work on the latest Toolshed release was nothing short of exquisite) and Chokeules (equally renowned for both his gravelly spit and what is likely the world's greatest Twitter feed), the crew crawled out of the swamp earlier this year with the slasher film-themed Grindhouse EP. Standouts "123" and "All About the Brains" from that release return for the late-night picture show that is Creature Feature, and they're joined by 11 more about monsters ("B-Movie Monster"), time travel ("Time Machine Massacre") and just how goddamn dope Swamp Thing truly is. Oh and also weed ("Reefer Vendetta"). This one's a Hand'Solo joint, which means two things; first and foremost there's not a single stinker among its 13 selections, and secondly there are guests galore. Its closer, which also happens to be the title track, is a five minute, stripped-down posse cut with Modulok, Jesse D, Burg, Ghettosocks, More or Les, Ambition and my pal Mikal kHill all pitching in to rep their favorite movie villains. The bad news is this one won't be available until Friday the 26th, while the good is you can pre-order now. Which you should.
And though it's not a Halloween release by any stretch of the imagination, Random's Language Arts Volume 2 does include a relevant track that, not-so coincidentally, was just released as a new video single. So I will leave you to enjoy the pre-pubescent slaughter of "Zombie High."