OMG you guys, it’s Halloween! Kind of. Halloween is next Wednesday — read all about the puppy antics Amoeba Hollywood has in store here — which means it’s kind of like it’s Halloween for the next six days. Besides your requisite scary movies, here are some recent creepy albums to get you through the next week, and a few upcoming ones to look out for.
This one’s kind of obvious. This is a band that made an album ostensibly about the end of the world, and the post-rock outfit’s latest release starts with a 20-minute opus of crashing sound named after a war criminal. But Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! pairs its noisy parts with moments of unnerving beauty, as in the spectral “We Drift Like Worried Fire.”
For some reason, that creepy smiling dog album cover alone creeps me out (check out Mr. Chadwick’s three-part posts on Halloween album covers). Swans’ two-disc album of black noise is rife with ancient-sounding chants, brutal guitarwork, weird panty and squealing vocals, but it’s all in the name of creating a highly affecting piece of work — this isn’t shock for shock’s sake. Still, not exactly party music, and truly f-ed up stuff.
In a recent interview, Chelsea Wolfe told me she didn’t think of her music as particularly eerie. Fair enough, that’s a bit limiting. But songs like the brief, a capella “I Died With You” and the warbling close harmonies of “Boyfriend” intimate a haunting finality (as well as eternalness) to love that’s chilling in its own right, not to mention that Wolfe’s voice makes your hair stand on end when she hits those high notes.
I don’t really know what’s going on with SF goths Horrid Red, but I like it. Their newest album, Nightly Wreaths, features the kind of soundscaping of late-period Talk Talk and the post-punk guitars of The Cure, with Eastern tinges and unsettling vocals that whisper secrets in your ear. Beautiful and strange.
John Cale’s latest album is an electronica-flavored wonderland of sound, sounding like the soundtrack for some alt Alice in Wonderland. Check out the crawling industrial sounds beating beneath songs like “Vampire Cafe” and “Mothra.”
Converge’s latest is a powerful hardcore-metal statement of dense sound, punishing beats and vocals that sound like they were choked out of someone. Hear the sound of unearthed desperation in a song like “Tender Abuse.”
This list wouldn’t be complete without a black metal album, and the latest release from progressive viking metal masters Enslaved doesn’t disappoint. It’s maybe their most polished work yet, with some gleaming and hooky guitarwork in songs like the nine-minute “Roots of the Mountain,” while Grutle Kjellson’s growling vocals and Herbrand Larsen’s relatively soothing counterparts take you through the darkness.
Bat for Lashes’ The Haunted Man isn’t as noir-ish as, say, her first album. But on her latest and finest release, she deals with the ghost of a former lovers (“All Your Gold”), the desperation of clinging to youth (“Laura”) and romantic excess (“Marilyn”) — and that’s just in the singles. All pop has an element of frightful overemotion to it, and Bat for Lashes’ Natasha Khan has done it as well as anyone else in 2012.
One part Dario Argento soundtrack, one part post-punk mastery, The Soft Moon’s latest release puts them further into pop territory, though you still get enough scary whispering and moany vocals to land this one firmly in creeptown. It’s out on Tuesday, preview it on Soundcloud.
Crystal Castles have always flirted with goth and frightening sounds (remember the scathing “Doe Deer,” from II?), and their latest release looks to solidify that with tracks like the warped “Wrath of God,” which makes Purity Ring sound like Taylor Swift. III comes out Nov. 6.
BONUS! New Scott Walker is coming.
This doesn’t come out until Dec. 4, but by the sounds of this album preview alone (and by the sound of Walker’s last album, the creeptastic masterpiece The Drift), I anticipate Bish Bosch’s clanging sounds and Walker’s desperate voice to inspire a sleepless night or two.