Some forms of music, such as post punk and death rock, are hard to describe to those who aren’t familiar with them. You just know them when you hear them. If you would like to hear the perfect example of what death rock should sound like, just listen to this album. Death rock is a cross between punk and goth, with a lot of darkness and atmosphere. Most death rock bands fall more on the gothic side, but Samhain tread the line right in the middle. The sound of this album is unique and almost otherworldly; definitely ahead of it’s time. The odd distortion on the guitars. The background growls, chimes, and feedback. And of course Danzig’s unmistakable vocals- here somewhere between the violence and sing-a-longs of the Misfits and the heavy metal howling of Danzig (the band). This whole album evokes an atmosphere of darkness and sinister primal urges. One of my fav albums of all time.
Peter And The Test Tube Babies – “Zombie Creeping Flesh” 7”ep (1983)
“Zombie Creeping Flesh” is a totally classic song, released in their heyday (right before the excellent album The Mating Sounds of South American Frogs). It’s alternately driving and creepy, with a great bass line and awesome leads. The essence of great punk and oi! here. Side B has the single version of the fastest song off The Mating Sounds of South American Frogs plus another track that’s ok. The real gem here is the A side, tho. Brilliant.
Diabolical Masquerade – “Nightwork” (1998)
There are several different forms of black metal, from the under produced primal ‘cult’ stuff to the overproduced, almost commercial ‘symphonic’ stuff. I actually like both kinds to some extent, and this album is a masterpiece that falls on the latter side of the style (tho not as far into the symphonic/ more accessible stuff as black metal can get. This stuff has some real bite). This is pretty much all Anders Nystrom’s (Blakkheim) project. Dan Swano does some production work and the drums, but this is mostly all Blakkheim’s baby (tho there is an additional flute player credited as well). It’s not near as chaotic or extreme as Diabolical Masquerade’s previous releases (which were also great), but is actually a very good mix of black metal and industrial. The black metal is the driving force, with the industrial touches mainly along to provide atmosphere (and boy does it). It has an overall medieval feel, but not in a Viking metal way- more just a strong feeling of epic and ancient darkness with a bit of experimentation and vicious guitar and vocals to remind us we’re listening to extreme music here, all masterfully put together with a perfect production. One of my most fav black metal releases ever.
Witching Hour – “The Hourglass” 12”ep (1992)
Textbook old school goth here. Sisters Of Mercy would be a good starting point for a comparison, old Rosetta Stone a better one; but Witching Hour are a little darker, in both subject matter and music. The bass drives all 4 songs on here, with a deep throbbing catchy rhythm backbone over which they layer melodic guitar with lots of delay. The vocals are pretty typical for this genre, but I like these guys a lot. Put any of these songs on and I’ll bet every goth in the area will start dancing.
Oneiroid Psychosis – “Stillbirth” (1995)
These guys have put out quite a few albums over the years (yet are virtually unknown), but this is their first (and my favorite). It’s hard to describe exactly what they sound like- imagine an Edgar Allan Poe compendium set to music. It’s like a horror movie soundtrack descending into madness. It starts out as some well done atmospheric industrial and electronic, very creepy in places but also kind of tribal and beat driven in others. The vocals are the weakest part, obviously trying to sound a little creepy and full of despair, but coming off kind of whiney in places, and a little weak (except when they kick in the effects, every once in awhile). At least they aren’t overly dramatic, as a lot of bands in this genre tend to make them- it wouldn’t fit with this material. They just need to sound a little more sinister in my opinion, and a little less hopeless. At any rate, they don’t take away from the awesomeness too much. The longer it goes on, the weirder and more unhinged it gets, until a little over halfway through it seems to transform from Poe to Lovecraft as we go down the rabbit hole. I like this quite a bit. Put on the song “Menarche” and see if it doesn’t put you in a creepy mood.
Eerie Von/ Mike Morance – “Uneasy Listening” (1996)
I’m not sure how much of this Samhain/ earlier Danzig bassist Eerie Von did and how much Mike Morance (who I’m not familiar with) contributed, because nothing else Eerie has done sounds anything like this (nor anywhere as awesome as this, either). This is (mostly) instrumental creepy horror and Halloween mood music. All the songs have their own feel, but they all feel dark and have atmosphere to spare. It starts out with an evil sounding waltz, and ends with a hopeful, more upbeat keyboard piece; in between are the sounds that haunted house operators and horror movie makers would love to use. Eerie does get to put his bass to good use in “Runnin’ Scared”, as well as the less frenzied (but spooky avant garde-ish) “Half a Gurl (Is Better Than None)” (the sole one that has vocals, unless you count the spoken word bit on “The Witches Lament”, the only track that I don’t care much for, perhaps because the witch sounds like Marge Simpson). I wish he would do another release like this, it’s good stuff indeed!