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Suspiria is the favorite of many a Goblin fan because it represents their sound carried to its most powerful and intense extremes. It was another score for their cinematic alter ego, director Dario Argento, and backed up the story of a girl who enrolls in a German dance academy only to discover it is a cover for a powerful coven of witches. The music is just as scary as the film itself, blending wailing electric guitar, whooping synthesizers, and screaming wordless cries into a spooky, bombastic sound that manages to be terrifying even without the benefit of the film’s gruesome images.

Suspiria has long been popular with heavy metal fans because it sports a hard-rocking edge equal in intensity to the scariest works of Black Sabbath or King Diamond: the title theme slowly builds a spooky riff on bells, acoustic guitar, and synthesizer until it erupts into a hard-rocking mid-section where nimble synthesizer solos spar with ghostly cries of “Witch! Witch!,” and “Sighs” mixes panting, wordless vocals with an array of furious power chords to create an unbearably high level of suspense.

Even when the score downplays the gothic rock theatrics on subtler tracks like “Black Forest” and “Blind Concert,” the group’s members still manage to create an intensely creepy atmosphere. The end result is an album that is guaranteed to please Goblin fans and is highly likely to appeal to fans of gothic and heavy metal sounds. [Collector’s note: the 1997 CD reissue of Suspiria sports four bonus tracks, consisting of three alternate version of “Suspiria” and a slightly different version of “Markos.”]

Tenebre occupies an odd place in the history of Italian prog rock legends Goblin: Although this isn’t an official Goblin album, it was crafted by three of the group’s four members under the moniker Simonetti, Morante, Pignatelli. Ironically, it has a stronger Goblin-esque feel to it than the last few official Goblin scores that proceeded it. It’s no coincidence that this 1982 score marked a reunion with Dario Argento, the director who discovered them and pushed them to create their most memorable work.

Tenebre covers the same gothic-inflected prog rock territory that Goblin pursued on previous Argento scores, except this time the sound is updated with an electronic edge that keeps its eye on early-’80s pop music trends. This newly updated approach is nicely defined by the title track, a pulse-pounding rock instrumental infused with an almost dance-friendly edge: It has the slashing guitar riffs and gothic organ swirls one would expect from a classic Goblin track, but also fleshes out the sound with new touches like vocoder-filtered vocals and programmed synthesizer riffs. Another standout track in this style is “Waiting Death,” a reprise of the “Tenebre” theme that allows Claudio Simonetti to take center stage with his impressive chops on the organ. Other tracks take it a step further by taking a completely synthesized approach: The best of these is “Flashing,” a densely layered synth epic that begins with creepy washes of spacy synthesizer and explodes into a gothic-sounding programmed synthesizer melody spiked with insistent drum machine beats. In short, Tenebre presents an ideal balance of horror atmospherics and rock muscle, and this makes it the finest post-’70s Goblin-related work.

-AMG

DOWNLOAD:
Goblin-SUSPIRIA & TENEBRE (1977 & 1982)
192-320kbps

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