Metalloween Pt. 3: The Werewolf Playlist
Of the monsters dwelling in the pop culture psyche, the one that resonates most with metalheads is usually the werewolf. The idea that once the sun goes down, under the right conditions, a human being can become a beast hungry for flesh and destruction is a familiar one to us. We feel it most Saturdays.
Every culture from Canada to China has legends of beings who transform into animals. Sometimes, these figures are humans using witchcraft to change shape, but more often than not they are beings set apart from humanity at large, whose shapeshifting abilities come with a price. What’s specifically interesting about the werewolf is that it is inherently evil. We may have romanticized lycanthropy now, as we have with vampirism, but in old-world stories werewolves were cursed by satanic witchcraft, could not walk on consecrated ground, and were hungry for only one thing in particular: human meat.
Because of this, werewolves were especially popular in ancient myth and during witch hunts. Unlike, say, mummies, which are entirely the result of pop culture aggrandizement, werewolves were present in plenty of legends and art, and people in medieval times were just as quickly accused of werewolfism as they were of witchcraft.
The connection with the moon is both romantic and oddly scientific. Obviously the moon controls the tides, and studies have shown that sexual behavior and attacks of mental illness increase when the moon is full. The “monthly change” is also sometimes used as a menstrual metaphor. That said, one can also imagine ancient peoples looking at the full skull of the sun glowing in the night sky and imagining it means something more menacing than the movement of shadows on a distant rock.
As a tribute to the beast inside, here are thirteen tracks about werewolves and lycanthropy. Enjoy, and stay off the moors.