“We have such sights to show you.”
A group of leather-bound figures – naked flesh peeking out between the seams. No, they’re not members of Judas Priest. They’re the cenobites – creatures imagined from the mind of Clive Barker whom made their first appearance in his novella *The Hellbound Heart *and the film version of it, Hellraiser. While the design of the cenobites more closely resembles the underground fetish scene, there is no denying that the leather, body modifications and attitude of the cenobites lends itself to the music scenes as well – namely electronic/industrial, punk and metal.
With the new Hellraiser film coming to Hulu this Friday, we explore the depths of musical hell with songs that are directly inspired by or have some serious connotations to Hellraiser.
Motörhead – “Hellraiser”
Lemmy, Ozzy and Wylde co-wrote this scorcher of a track, which was released on Osbourne’s No More Tears and Motörhead’s March ör Die albums, respectively. In 1992, a video was released to accompany the film Hellraiser 3. In it, the immortal question of who would win in a card game, Lemmy or Pinhead is finally answered – resulting in Pinhead getting more of a migraine than any pin stuck into his skull could give him.
Ozzy Osbourne – “Hellraiser”
First appearing on No More Tears in 1991, “Hellraiser” has grown in cult status over the years – the Motörhead version having a video including the cenobites and tag team The Hell Raisers (Road Warrior Hawk and Power Warrior) using the song in NJPW. In 2021, a 30th anniversary of the song was released featuring both vocalists together on the track with an accompanying animated video in which an alien invasion creates hell on earth this time around.
Pinhead – “Man in the Box”
The Merkins are known for doing parody songs featuring your favorite slasher characters. For Pinhead’s time to shine, the Alice in Chains hit “Man in the Box” fits the character like a tight, new leather cloak – with the lyrics being quite literal now and his singing being surprisingly on-point. Strangely, the song makes me feel sympathy for Pinhead. It must be tight and sweaty in that puzzle box – let him out, man.
Dimmu Borgir – “Hybrid Stigmata (The Apostasy)”
If there was any band who can match Christopher Young’s *Hellraiser *score with levels of symphonic, gothic horror and wonder, it is good old Dimmu Borgir. On their acclaimed 2001 album Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia, they present a track with atmosphere as thick as Butterball’s pale belly. The plot of *Hellraiser *is alluded to in the lyrics, “Witnessing the details of defilement, intoxicating, “Make sure to be pleased with the ways of your death” and a line lifted straight from the film, “Demon to some, angel to others.”
Cradle of Filth – Various Tracks
British band Cradle of Filth has been inspired by Clive Barker in many ways – their 2000 album Midian being based on his book *Cabal *(which was made into the film Nightbreed) and the usage of one Doug Bradley to narrate parts in several Cradle of Filth songs. Doug Bradley, known for playing Pinhead of course, still sounds like he is in cenobite mode, talking over symphonic, gothic metal – even if the lyrics aren’t entirely about tearing souls apart.
Entombed – “Hellraiser”
“What’s your pleasure, Mr. Cotton?” Swedish death metal band Entombed, like cenobites with instruments, slow this track down so that the listener experiences every second of torture with their own audio version of the torments found within Hellraiser. The loose adaptation of the Christopher Young title theme is filled with film samples. It’s a track that captures the mood of Hellraiser more than others whom have attempted to create it.
Mortician – “Hell on Earth”
Leave it to Mortician to do the grislier aspects of Hellraiser justice and add the film to their canon of horror-inspired tracks. With “Hell on Earth,” the coffin crunch sound of the band brings to mind the nastier gore sequences from the films. In familiar Mortician fashion, a long audio clip from film plays before music begins, which always sets the mood. In this case, “We’ll tear your soul apart” is a great final line before the music attempts to do just that.
Ice Nine Kills – “The Box (feat. Brandon Saller and Ryan Kirby)”
Ice Nine Kills, like the horror-themed acts like Wednesday 13 or The Misfits before them, use the horror library to fish out song subjects, be it The Exorcist or Piranha. Ice Nine Kills combine the grotesque horror of Hellraiser with the wit of musical-tinged lyricism. “Is it pleasure or pain? All hope is hanging from these hooks and chains.” If Hellraiser was on Broadway with a metal soundtrack, it might sound like this.
Blitzkid – “Hellraiser”
Horror punkers Blitzkid, wearing black clothing and sometimes painting their faces white do resemble an earthly version of the cenobites. On their track “Hellraiser” from their 2001 album Let Flowers Die puts the listener into the thoughts of the ‘Cenobites traveling through portals of time,’ “We’ll torture your body by proportions so mythic. The puzzle box opens and brings us new life.”
Suicide Commando – Hellraiser
Hellraiser samples can be found in a lot of industrial songs from the ‘80s onward. Suicide Commando, in addition to sampling Hellraiser in tracks like “Jesus Wept,” produced the ultimate aggronoise track dedicated to the film with “Hellraiser.” If hell has a night club, this will be playing as the cenobites stomp the night into oblivion.
Steel Maid – “Hellraiser”
“So bring forth the box… move the willing locks…in it’s course, set you free.” Steel Maid’s “Hellraiser” brings some ‘80s horror aesthetic in a song that could have fit nicely on the Hellraiser 3 soundtrack. It’s always interesting reading *Hellraiser *related lyrics, and on this song, they do mention the leather-clad cenobites – “See the roving lights of the cenobites…grant your wish now you’re through.”
Attila – “Hellraiser”
Attila take upon the spirit of the pseudo-cenobites of Hellraiser 3 in the lyrics of their track “Hellraiser,” “Fuck everything you say I’m here to smash shit straight from the depths of hell.” Like the new cenobites made in the film, Attila are eager to simply raise hell much like a pack of Gremlins. If looking for a moodier, more goth sounding song, look elsewhere. However, the pandemonium of sin from Hellraiser 3 is represented here. “I’ll tear your soul apart. Fuck pigs. We raise hell.”
F.K.Ü. – Tear Your Soul Apart II
Swedish horror-themed thrash maniacs F.K.Ü. present this remake of their track from the 1998 demo Beware the Evil Ünderwear (their name meaning Freddy Kruger’s Underwear) as part of their 1999 thrash-horror opus, Metal Moshing Mad. The lyrics here state that Pinhead, being in a hospitable mood, will take you to his home. Don’t expect cookies, though – “Jesus wept and so will you. The master will rip you in two.” Not quite my pleasure, sir.