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Steampunk Bands Get in the Halloween Spirit With Seasonal Releases

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

For many steampunk fans, Halloween is “the most wonderful time of the year,” to borrow from an old Christmas song, and several bands that cater to the community are in the holiday spirit with new or forthcoming releases.

They include symphonic gothic metal from Valentine Wolfe, a nautically themed number from Ghostfire, and an electro-swing collaboration by Madam Misfit and Victor and the Bully. Meanwhile, Unwoman offers a frightful take on Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” as part of a Halloween EP.

Then we leave you with an oldie from an album so dark and gloomy, it should probably be left in the vault save for this season of dreaded creatures that lurk in the night.

It might seem that every day is Halloween for Valentine Wolfe, the South Carolina-based duo that describes their sound as “gothic metal inspired by seances, 19th century gothic literature, and classical music.”

They’ve been known to perform live scores for silent horror films; most recently, at Monsterama in Atlanta, they provided musical accompaniment for a reading of Edgar Allan Poe’s “Ligeia.”

In advance of this year’s All Hallows’ Eve, they’ve released “Somnus Aeterna,” a sonic tour de force about “death, love, despair, and dreams.” It was first performed at Dragon Con.

If you purchase the single by Oct. 31—via Bandcamp or the duo’s website—you’ll get a bonus “unplugged” version with vocals and piano. It’s also available on Spotify, and soon they plan to release a lyric video.


Fermata, the acoustic chamber rock ensemble, is out with “The Haunted Woods of Prairie du Sac,” a new single based on a folk legend about a series of murders in a Wisconsin forest in the 1910s.

“The cases were never solved and the story goes that the souls of the victims remained trapped in the trees near where they were killed,” the band tells us. “Occasionally passersby would hear faint voices calling out from the woods pleading for release.”

Readers will recall that Fermata recently released their second album, Ever Colder, after a 12-year hiatus. Guitarist Eli August is known to steampunk fans for his performances at events in the U.S. Northeast.

The single, and new album, are available on Bandcamp.

We’ve previously written about the comeback of Ghostfire, the trio that’s released two singles this year following a lengthy hiatus.

Now they’re planning a Halloween release for a third song, “Dead Jack,” which continues the nautical themes of the previous tracks but with a ghoulish turn. You can look for it on Bandcamp.

As we’ve previously reported, Madam Misfit and Victor and the Bully have teamed up for a lighter, electro-swing take on the holiday in “Trick or Treat.”

The single follows last year’s Halloween-themed “Feels a Little Strange” from Madam Misfit and “Heebie Jeebies” from Victor and the Bully.

“With the bar set high for us both to better our previous spine tingling tracks we decided what better than to join forces,” the artists write.

The single, released on the Electro Swing Thing label, is available from Apple Music, Bandcamp, and other digital music sites. The video features animation by Steampowered Animator.

Photo: Industrial Eye Photography

Meanwhile, Unwoman is celebrating Halloween with a digital re-issue of her Untitled Scary EP, which she first released in 2019.

The EP features seven holiday-themed tracks, including her covers of Donovan’s “Season of the Witch,” Concrete Blonde’s “Bloodletting,” Berlin’s “Masquerade,” and Ministry’s “Everyday Is Halloween.”

But the highlight is “The Eldritch One, Jolene.” The concept: “Wouldn’t it be funny if the narrator of Dolly Parton’s famous song ‘Jolene’ kept describing her and just got more and more terrifying?” the artist wrote in notes accompanying the original release.

She collaborated on the track with Dan Abbott, who contributed new lyrics in addition to guitar, vocals, and “some screaming and moaning that almost made me bust out laughing,” she wrote. Additional lyrics came from a post on Tumblr.

The EP is available for $1 or more on Bandcamp. But you’ll have to act soon, as it returns to the spirit world after Nov. 2.

The artist has also posted a new cover version of “You’re Dead,” a tune originally recorded by Norma Tanega in the 1960s. It later became the theme song for What We Do in the Shadows, a 2014 horror comedy film. Unwoman plans to release it as part of a holiday album next year, but it’s now available for download from a public post on Patreon.

Finally, an oldie that predates steampunk but seems right for the occasion: “Jack the Ripper” by the Belgian chamber rock ensemble Univers Zero. The 13-minute, all-instrumental track is from Heresie, a 1979 release that’s been described as the gloomiest album ever recorded.

This story was updated with info about the new Fermata single. We also embedded the music video for “Dead Jack.”

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