Nightmare Fuel: Music
Music is the universal language. What this song says in every language is "RUN AWAY AS FAST AS YOU FUCKING CAN!!!"Some noises while sleeping wake you up. Some noises while awake make you not sleep right. For the images related to songs, see the Music Videos section.
- Amanda Palmer
- Tori Amos
- Animal Collective
- Aphex Twin
- The Aquabats!
- Axe Murder Boyz
- The Beach Boys
- The Beatles
- Black Flag
- Black Sabbath
- Boards of Canada
- Bo Burnham
- David Bowie
- The Buggles
- Brotha Lynch Hung
- Bruce Dickinson
- Captain Beefheart
- Nick Cave
- Coheed and Cambria
- Alice Cooper
- Cosmo Jarvis
- Current 93
- Daft Punk
- Death Grips
- The Decemberists
- Dir en grey
- The Doors
- Dream Theater
- Dresden Dolls (see NightmareFuel.Amanda Palmer)
- Emilie Autumn
- Evillious Chronicles
- Fall Out Boy
- Fear Factory
- Florence + the Machine
- John Frusciante
- Godspeed You! Black Emperor
- PJ Harvey
- Insane Clown Posse
- Iron Maiden
- Michael Jackson
- Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War of the Worlds
- The Jesus Lizard
- Robert Johnson
- Joy Division
- King Crimson
- Lady Gaga
- Linkin Park
- John Lennon
- The Levellers
- Nick Lowe
- Marilyn Manson
- The Megas
- The Mountain Goats
- Mystery Skulls
- Neutral Milk Hotel
- Nick Bertke
- Nine Inch Nails
- Oingo Boingo
- Owl City
- Pink Floyd
- The Police
- Porcupine Tree
- The Protomen
- Public Image Ltd.
- Queens of the Stone Age
- Red House Painters
- The Residents
- The Rolling Stones
- Sigur Ros
- Simple Minds
- Siouxsie and the Banshees
- Skinny Puppy
- Steeleye Span
- Sufjan Stevens
- They Might Be Giants
- Throbbing Gristle
- Throwing Muses
- Twenty One Pilots
- Velvet Underground
- Venetian Snares
- Visual Kei
- Tom Waits
- Within Temptation
- Frank Zappa
Miscellaneous MusicEach section is in alphabetical order by artist. Before you add examples here, check the index above and make sure the artist doesn't already have their own page. Nightmare Fuel related to Music Videos go in the NightmareFuel.Music Videos section.
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- Prince's title track from 1980's Dirty Mind. Aside from the droning synthesizer bassline at the beginning, it isn't too bad. Then we get to the lyrics, which are unnerving, being about Prince wanting to RAPE an unapproving woman and having dirty thoughts about her. Then Prince starts repeating his words in a very creepy tone, only to say his final lines in a rather unusually quiet voice: "I don't want to hurt you baby. I only. Want. To. Lay. You... Down..."
- Sister from the same album is also pretty creepy, being about brother-sister incest.
- Tin Hat Trio: Their version of "Daisy Bell." Forget HAL9000. This will make you want to scream "RUN, DAISY, RUN! He's gonna lock you in the basement and let you ring a bell as a reward for... something icky!" It's totally stalkeriffic.
- John Zorn: "Naked City." The songs shift from smooth jazz to grindcore to death metal shredding back to jazz and then all over again within the span of seconds. The entirety of it is punctuated with Yamatsuka Eye making the most terrifying noises he possibly can with his mouth.
- Wall of Voodoo had a few disturbing songs, especially during the Stan Ridgway era. Their debut EP had "The Passenger," a very urgent piece which appears to be about a terrorist who brings a bomb with him onto plane. It has an abrupt ending, before fading back in with an eerie elevator-music coda.
- The very last track on the EP is a 55-second instrumental, which frankly sounds like one of the more fucked-up songs from the Silent Hill soundtrack. It consists of a bouncy rhythm track, a whiny droning synth, and a ringing telephone. It fades out as quickly as it fades in. The title of the song? "Granma's House."
- Another instrumental entitled "Struggle". It comes right after the humorous song "Can't Make Love", in which the narrator expresses his frustration with not being able to get anyone in bed. While "Struggle", with its whirring melody and rhythm section which brings to mind being chased is disturbing enough, near the end, a panicked woman's moaning and gasping can be heard — perhaps the titular struggle, which brings to mind sexual assault. Paired with "Can't Make Love", it could very well be a very dark sequel.
- Charlie Musselwhite's first recording of "Christo Redemptor" features Barry Goldberg's scarifying organ, Charlie's high and lonesome harmonica, and Harvey Mandel's bleak guitar solo toward the end. The whole work sounds like the soundtrack to the aftermath of a horrible crime scene.
- Billie Holiday's "Strange Fruit", describing the lynchings of African-Americans in dark, bleak, and sorrowful detail. "Black bodies swinging in the Southern breeze..."
- Johann Sebastian Bach: "Toccata and Fugue in D minor" is particularly popular in old horror movies due to its minor key and startling changes from soft to thundering.
- Béla Bartók: He used traditional folk and peasants' music in his work, but kept the primitiveness intact. This of course lead to many haunting moments.
- "Music for Strings, Percussion and Celeste", famously used in Kubrick's The Shining.
- "Concerto For Orchestra": The first four sections all have disturbing and haunting moments, comparable to a dark night in nature.
- Luciano Berio: The Sequenza series. A list of serialist pieces which wouldn't sound out-of-place if the Silent Hill games made greater use of music. It even makes the sound of an accordion seem unnerving. The worst? "Sequenza II"I for female voice. That muttering...
- Hector Berlioz:
- Certain parts of Symphonie fantastique, particularly the last two movements. Especially if you know what they're about.note
- The "Dies Irae," a part of the Requiem mass taken from a 13th-century hymn. It describes the Last Judgment. Surprised that it's scary/creepy? Berlioz did manage to change the way the tune was used, however, when he quoted it in his aforementioned symphony, and it's been parodied ever since (as in the Saint-Saens piece described above).
- Daniel Bukvich: Symphony #1: In Memoriam Dresden, written in remembrance of the Allied bombing of Dresden during WWII. Creepiness incarnate at the beginning... and then screaming flutes, weird wavy timpani, and then a movement where the band starts whispering... then talking... then shouting, and then screaming as if they're being burned alive. Which, coincidentally, is what the last movement is supposed to be about.
- John Cage:
- George Crumb: "Black Angels". It will make you feel like insects are crawling up your skin.
- Paul Dukas: "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" also has a very eerie atmosphere. Thanks to Disney's "Fantasia" the music actually became more unnerving.
- Edvard Grieg: "In the Hall of the Mountain King," from Peer Gynt Suite, is pretty creepy even if you haven't seen the movie version of Stephen King's Needful Things.
- Bernard Herrmann's score to the Hitchcock film "Psycho" would have been scary enough even without the images of the film.
- Gustav Holst's "The Planets": The vastness of space can be intimidating in itself, but the sections "Mars, Bringer Of War", "Saturn, Bringer Of Old Age" and "Uranus, The Magician" all have a spooky feel to them.
- Jacques Ibert: "Pičce pour flute seule" sounds so mysterious that it actually becomes frightening.
- Charles Ives' "The Gong On The Hook & Ladder"
- György Ligeti: Many of his works, for example "Atmospheres", famously featured in 2001: A Space Odyssey.
- Mediaeval Baebes: "How Death Comes." A sort of spoken, sort of sung description of the process of death. Goes from scary whispering to shockingly loud.
- Most of Olivier Messiaen 's piano suite Vingt regards. Some examples.
- Modest Mussorgsky:
- "Night on Bald Mountain" really sounds as if all demons from Hell are brought together.
- "Pictures At An Exhibition" also has a few haunting moments: "The Gnome", "Chickens In Their Eggs" and "The Hut On Fowl's Legs/Baba Yaga". If you hear the scary music that Mussorgsky wrote for these passages you're actually glad that the original paintings that inspired him are Lost Forever.
- Randy Newman: "In Germany Before the War" is about a murderer, from the POV of one of his dead victims (and the melody is creepy enough on it's own).
- Krzysztof Penderecki:
- Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Ten minutes of the scariest music ever..
- The Dream of Jacob. Used by both Stanley Kubrick in The Shining and David Lynch in Inland Empire. In one of the bonus features for Inland Empire, Lynch said one reason his wife divorced him may have been that he kept playing it on the stereo really loud.
- Utrenja, which seems to exist solely to make people scream. The chanting from the chorus is unnerving, and the rhythmic knocking sound sounds like a pair of skulls being smashed together. And then come the ear-splitting clanging and sirens.
- Most of his symphonic pieces; there's a reason that several of them were used as the soundtrack to The Shining. Let's not even think about what it says about Adrian Veidt that he apparently listens to them for fun. Here are a couple of links.
- Sergei Prokofiev
- "Montagues and Capulets". Its intro is frightening enough, then at 1:34, it goes into overdrive.
- Peter and the Wolf. The music accompanying the cat trying to catch the little bird has a literal Jump Scare moment when the cat misses him.
- The threatening horns when the wolf leaves the forest.
- The music when the cat notices the wolf and quickly climbs the tree. Scary enough, but then the wolf chases the duck and devours the poor creature, all accompanied by nervous music that makes little children's imagination go berserk.
- The spooky flute representing the bird and the equally haunting bassoon representing the granddad slowly walking towards Peter.
- Gioachino Rossini has the second part of the William Tell Overture, appropriately labelled the "Storm" segment. The familiar portion with the full orchestra is probably the scariest of all.
- Camille Saint-Saens:
- "Carnival Of The Animals", particularly "The Chickens", "The Kangaroo", "The Aquarium", "The Donkey" (eerily described as "People with Long Ears") and "The Cuckoo".
- The haunting atmosphere of "The Aquarium" was used in Disney's Beauty and the Beast, when Belle first enters The Beasts' castle.
- Saint-Saens' "Danse Macabre" isn't exactly balmy, particularly the opening. You are forgiven in advance for jumping out of your seat 19 seconds in.
- Arnold Schoenberg: "Pierrot Lunaire". There had been lots of scary music made before Schoenberg, but he was the first person to make music creepy. In fact, he's been so imitated by modern composers (including on numerous horror film scores) that it can sound a bit Dated.
- Franz Schubert:
- This cover of Die Forelle from Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows. It's even worse after you watch the torture scene its played during.
- If you ignore all the clichés it has been associated with for the past century or so, his version of "Der Erlkönig" qualifies. A father and his son, who might or might not be seriously ill, are riding home one night when the son starts hallucinating that they are being stalked by the titular Erlkönig, a legendary creature, who comes across like a modern day Serial Killer, luring the boy with gifts in order for him to come along. The son refuses and begs his father to save him. The father doesn't believe his son, until the son dies in agony at the hands of the Erlkönig, his soul taken by force.
- Rezső Seress: "Gloomy Sunday", composed in 1933, also known as the Hungarian Suicide Song, is a song made famous by the English translation recorded by Billie Holiday in 1941. The song got its nickname thanks to urban legends which are now thought to have been spawned by Holiday's record label, as the original Hungarian version was said to have inspired the suicides of anyone who heard it, and indeed Seress took his own life in 1968. The lyrics describe the narrator's morbid desire to commit suicide in order to join his/her dead lover. However, Holiday's version added a third verse which modulates to a major feel and suggests that the previous verses were merely a fleeting dream. Still, the final lines - "Darling, I hope that my dream never haunted you | My heart is telling you how much I wanted you" - leave many disturbingly unanswered questions.
- Dmitri Shostakovich:
- "String Quartet, No. 8".
- For real nightmare trips, plays his last two string quartets - especially No. 15, his last.
- Symphony No. 11, movement 2: The movement's first half alternates between moments of dramatic bombast and uneasy calm. But it kicks into full Nightmare gear in the second half, starting with the agitated strings and percussion. That builds up until it gives way to a relentless percussion cadence, which in turns alternates with violent outbursts from the rest of the orchestra. The music gives the impression of an unfeeling, unstoppable juggernaut destroying everything in its path.
- Igor Stravinsky
- The opening to "L' Oiseau Du Feu" (The Firebird) starts very quietly, but already very disturbing. Back in 1910 audiences weren't used to such threatening sounding introduction to a ballet.
- "Le Sacre Du Printemps" (The Rite of Spring) also has a very threatening and spooky introduction. Of course, "The Rite Of Spring" has no happy subject to begin with: a ritual sacrifice of a young virgin in prehistoric Russia! The entire piece sounds brutal, primitive, loud and has a scary feeling to it. Especially first time listeners will almost certainly be unnerved. No wonder that a riot broke loose during its premier in 1913!
- The second act ("Introduction" and "Mysterious Circles Of The Young Girls") sounds even more threatening, because it remains so hauntingly calm and quiet for quite some minutes. After the earth shattering noise of the first act this comes across as being silence before the storm.
- You think that's a nightmare? You can hardly stay calm during the final movement, La danse sacrale, whether it's accompanied by the composer, an actual ballet performance, or any kind of musical score.
- Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: The third movement of the Nutcracker Suite, better known as the "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" starts rather creepy.
- YMMV on that, as it was meant to sound delicately sweet and heavenly, but it does so in a peculiarly Russian way. There is a version on glass harmonica (Tchaikovsky's original choice) that might be even more unnerving.
- "Pas de Caractčre: Puss in Boots and the White Cat" from Tchaikovsky's ballet "Sleeping Beauty". So hauntingly creepy that Walt Disney used it for his movie Sleeping Beauty in the scene where Princess Aurora is hypnotized by the Witch to go and prick her finger on the spinning wheel.
- Scott Walker: Many of his later releases, with the most horrific being 2006's The Drift, which is less about music than it is the aural equivalent of a train ride through Hell.
- A lot of Alexander Scriabin's late pieces are mysterious and spooky, but his Sixth and Ninth Piano Sonatas jump into creepy territory. The composer reportedly refused to play the sixth in public, fearing its darkness.
- Lemon Demon: "Elsewhere." The lyrics aren't all that creepy, but the background instrumentals? They conjure images of evil clowns. Is it any wonder that the same artist composed a track called "Nightmare Fuel"?
- Once you're done with that, find the Lemon Demon song "Sick Puppy," which is in the same vein but not quite as shiver-inducing.
- One children's song has an In-Universe case of Nightmare Fuel, that could also qualify as one for viewers until The Reveal. It tells the story of something that made a "Kshhssshhssh" sound and frightened a sleeping child. It turns out that it was actually a talking baby doll with drained batteries, and once its batteries are changed, it says, "I love you, good night!", which comes off as both heartwarming and funny at the same time.
- Charlie Daniels Band: "The Legend of Wooley Swamp". It's all well and good, a little creepy, until you get to the end and realize that three teenage boys (while admittedly horrible dudes, but still...) are re-living being buried alive again and again for all eternity... Ugh. If you listen to it on a good system, you'll notice that there are bass notes that are more felt than heard. Now try this home alone in a rural location with a storm approaching.
- Jack Kittel: Try "Psycho", a country song first released by Eddie Noack in 1968, but made famous by Kittel in 1974, and subsequently covered by the Beasts Of Bourbon and Elvis Costello. It details a conversation between a rural serial killer and his mother, in which he confesses his crimes. One memorable line runs ..Seems I was holding a wrench, momma/And my mind just walked away... Bad enough, but the final line is the kicker in which it is revealed that he has already killed his mother and has been talking to her corpse.
- Hank Williams III: A rare example in country music: the double album Straight To Hell, containing a 42-minute long end track that consists of a hellish pastiche of distorted sounds, ranging from pitch-shifted country songs to field recordings. Interspersed throughout, however, are some rather nice (if a bit "off") songs that detracts from the "WTF factor".
- Those Poor Bastards: They perform pitch-black horror-themed country with the fervor of fundamentalist backwoods preachers. "John Henry Gonna" sounds like the gospel soundtrack to a zombie apocalypse. "The Dust Storm" is a hair-raising trip down some evil backroads. And their cover of Johnny Cash's "Walk the Line" is a terrifying ode to stalkerism.
- They have a rather notorious version of the folk traditional "I Wish I Was A Mole In The Ground." It starts off sounding controlled, with cold, atonal electronics, before Blixa begins invoking Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick. This goes a step further in the extended cut, culminating in Careful with That Axe.
- "MIMIKRY". Weird lyrics, and then this robotic voice talking about the noise, and this dissonance, and this constant beat... *shudders*. It's beautiful, though.
- Angelspit: "Sleep Now." What makes it even creepier is Zoog's voice as he says "we are all the same". Emotionless, like he knows and doesn't care, because he's given up already.
- Assemblage 23: "30kft". "So I'm calling for one last time to say that I love you." Brr.
- Autechre: Confield is unsettling in a very cold and mechanical way. The songs where produced using generative (computer algorithm rather than human performer based) sequencing which creates a subtle and terrifying feel to the whole album that contorts your mind.
- The Berzerker: One notable example would be "Burnt". The scariest part of the song would have to be the midway point, where a man lists a number of torture methods accompanied by incredibly twisted industrial sounds. Not only that, but later in the song, the man's monologue is played again, in case you didn't hear him the first time.
- The Birthday Massacre: "Happy Birthday" and "Blue".
Feel my breath, on your neck, and your heart will race
- "Earth Intruders." After listening to it a few times, it does get admittedly less creepy... but still. The intro is mainly the squelching of footsteps in mud and some very primitive-sounding drums. Then Bjork starts singing such lovely lyrics as "grinding skeptics into the soil/Shower of goodness/Coming to..." [I can't quite make it out.] Not to mention the occasional shrieking of "TURMOIL, CARNAGE!" Just to top it off, the album version ends with about a minute and a half of soft, eerie alarms and foghorn noises. The music video is essentially a tableau of primitive figures with spears, superimposed on Bjork's face. Then about halfway through the video... the figures get machine guns, and whoever's listening to the song runs away.
- "An Echo, A Stain". Not many lyrics in it, but it's enough to make some creepy imagery - "I'm sorry you saw that," and the way it finishes with a half-whispered word "...complete."
- Brighter Death Now: Overlapping with (and to some extent predicating) the genre of death ambient is this Swedish group, whose work is basically what happens when a band decides to frame their entire ethos around taking the "Drone of Dread" into the most miserable place possible.
- Chiron: The album "Bleed" has closing track "Nikki," which is seemingly about a gal named Nikki coming back to take revenge on a guy that has wronged her. Hell hath no fury. It's pretty standard, until it hits the 03:58 mark. With the line "They're never gonna get me alive" previously on a rocky tune, it suddenly shifts into a moodier music, and words/expressions begin. Each expression is repeated several times, one in each ear. These include: "Control, control, control!", "You found the answer! YOU found the answer!", "Staring at me, staring at me, STARING at me, STARING AT ME!", "They will see the real me! They will see the real me!", "Touch me! Touch me!", "I can't stop shaking! I can't stop shaking!"
- Robert Christopher: "Haunted Sky" — a nightmarish musical work of art, intensified with a relentless near-infrasound drone and what can only be described as the distant tortured ululations of faceless night-gaunts. Beautiful and/or terrifying!
- Combichrist: Special mention should go to "God Warrior." What makes it especially impressive is that the vocals from that track are taken from this video, which is, at best, a bit weird, but to most people is pretty hilarious. Then Shaun F and Andy La Plegua got their hands on it, and turned it into this.
- William Control: "Razor's Edge". It seems like a normal, gothy, above-average alternative rock song until about halfway through you get a delightful little tirade. Add to this the fact that his voice gets more and more raspy until he's saying the last few words in what can only be described as a demonic snarl, and that about two seconds later the vocals kick in again, and it's him screaming "YOU SLASH MY HEART ON THE RAZOR'S EDGE."
- Covenant: "Modern Ruin Part II", a Hidden Track on their latest album, is a dark ambient drone track reminiscent of Quake or Silent Hill. Back in 1994, they did a similar piece called "Cryotank Expansion", which is 26 minutes long.
- Jason Crumer: Being a very good noise artist, his album Ottoman Black generally qualifies, but when he drops the harsh static on the track "Where Were You?" and replaces it with abstract noises in the background that could easily be gunshots or other violence, and has the sounds of a man gasping, groaning and gurgling quietly in pain in the foreground, it's chilling.
- Deadmau5 soundcloud, most notably "Industrial Strength Sleeping Pills"
- The Deviants: The scariest song they ever did was "Nothing Man". If you're listening to it for the first time, you think it's going to be a sort of creepy song. But it becomes a spoken-word description of a nihilistic, hateful man. There's no real music in the background, either, just lots of frightening sounds. It starts out pretty quiet, but it all culminates in the last part, where Mick Farren lists all the people the nothing man hates. It's pretty scary, especially if you find yourself on the list of people the Nothing Man hates.
- The Diary of Dreams: "The Curse" is told from the perspective of a man who is being tortured; made worse by the chorus implying that the mental part of the torment is considerably worse. ("Plastic needles in my skin/don't ask me what they're for/no clue except for pain and shock/you tied me to the bed to mock/my eyelids kept wide open/so I can see all that you do...")
- Divine: "I'm So Beautiful" may be one of Divine's lighter songs. But in the album version, the electronic sounds sound slightly more darker than the 7-inch version and you can hear a deep, monstrous, voice shouting "Scream!" and some grunting starting at 5:10.
- Einstürzende Neubauten: Case in point, "Armenia". They could be described as the soundtrack for Nightmare Fuel.
- Brian Eno: The instrumental numbers "The Secret Place", "Matta" and "Under Stars II" from Apollo: Atmospheres And Soundtracks all have a creepy, haunting atmosphere.
- Front 242: "Felines" is extremely unsettling to listen to for the first time. The distorted voice clip the song is built around is intended to sound like a cat, but it sounds closer to a legion of brain-damaged children following Nyarlathotep. The calmly sung lyrics and rather danceable beat make it uniquely creepy.
- Front Line Assembly:
- Funker Vogt: They have more than a few moments - chiefly because most of their songs deal with actual events and aftermath. "When a Child Dies," which dissects the discovery of a murdered girl and traces it backto sexual abuse by a family member is right up there, as is "Suspended Animation," which tells the tale of a man who wakes up to discover he's been buried alive:
I'm crying now, but nobody's there
The air is scanty, my voice is decreasing
My mind is confused
I'm knocking on the coffin
- Garbage: "#1 Crush" is one goddamn freaky song. Basically, it's an Obsession Song which starts off as vaguely OK ("I would die for you" then, a bit later, "I would sell my soul for something pure and true/someone like you") and then gets considerably darker ("I will burn for you/feel pain for you") and then she lists all the stuff she would do for this guy. It's a long list.
- German Shepherds: The obscure industrial band has a song called "Booty Jones". The lyrics are about a guy's fantasy of raising up "a family of clean little boys". Not helping was the singer's decision to claim he was on trial for child molestation and fake his own death.note And the electronic whining, deep bass, and monotone vocals just add to the effect.
- Hafler Trio: The first ten minutes of "The Emasculation of Contempt" would definitely apply; A layered, 15/16 time piano piece that would be more or less okay—were it not for the processed screamings, a growing fog of demonic, unsettling shrieks and howls, getting more and more unnerving until all of a sudden, it cuts out.
- Hybrid: Since their second album Morning Sci-Fi, has since then made their songs extremely unsettling and scary. "Marrakech," from the previously mentioned album, deserves special mention.
- "Breathing Water." It's an eight-minute-long track that isn't so much a song as a nightmare being quietly related over creepy ambient sound. The "singer's" voice is mechanically slurred into the Uncanny Valley, so the emotion seems detached and disjointed, and it's hard to even tell its gender at parts. It details slow death by drowning, but with parts so surreal as to truly ring true as a nightmare, like there being presents floating everywhere, and the singer trying to hold onto them to keep from sinking. The beginning and the end are slow fades in/out to the sound of buoys clanging rhythmically...heard from underwater. The song is actually based on an actual event, the Point Pleasant, VA bridge collapse of December 15, 1967. Said bridge collapse was pivotal to the serious nightmare fuel The Mothman Prophecies by John Keel, and the spoken word vocals are the sheriff from "Prophecies" telling the leading man about a dream she had which ends up coming true. You can hear it for free, courtesy of the artist, here.
- All of Inhale's songs are like this. "4x10+10+4" is the scariest one, making Longfellow's nostalgic poem "My Lost Youth" sound like the speaker confessing supressed knowledge. "Lotus Wings" takes the greatest speech from A Charlie Brown Christmas and warps it so darkly you're left screaming for someone to turn the bad bad sounds off. "Crooked Creaking Universe" has...well, whatever the growling creature is, but if it came from a dark dark hallway, it wouldn't be surprising. Often the lyrics are so mechanically distorted you're left not knowing what exactly what the speakers are singing (or in some cases weeping)...and you don't want to.
- Try listening to "black" just before going to sleep. We dare you.
- To add a heaping helping of Tear Jerker to this trope, it seems Vance, one of the band members, may have committed suicide.
- Justice: "Stress". Allegedly, the thriller movie sample used in the music is triggering a subconscious zombie association. Also, the video is scary enough by itself.
- The Knife: Karin Dreijer Andersson, one half of the Knife, has a solo career under the name Fever Ray. Her music, stage persona, and videos are so scary that her husband was concerned about letting their kids listen to her music.
- "Ohm Sweet Ohm" on the Radioactivity album. With the looped synthetic voice and the funereal organ, it's like a computer singing longingly about its own blood. Maybe it'll come for yours next.
- Several pieces from their first two albums, including the first half of "Stratovarius", the middle of "Ruckzuck", and the intro of "Kling Klang".
- "Kometenmelodie Part 1" is a dark and spooky piece, which segues into the second movement with a high-pitched whistle.
- Many people upon first hearing something by them will have to stop after a few seconds, and they'll feel physically odd for several minutes afterwards. Even after getting used to that, some still haven't been able to listen to some other styles, such as the clinical ambient bit at the end of this.
- Lustmord's "Infinite Domain" is particularly scary upon first listen because at one point the "music" drops out, leaving just an unidentifiable hollow rhythmic noise that sounds a lot like someone beating something against a wall, like a tennis ball. Or someone's head. And if you've seen The Shining, the tennis ball option can be a terrifying sound.
- Midnight Syndicate: A gothic band that creates some of the creepiest instrumentals, a lot of their music is used to create atmosphere for haunted house rides. It's probably best not to listen to their music at the dead of night. Their use of sound effects is exceptionally frightful.
- Mr. Oizo: A French producer who's mostly known for 'Flat Beat' and his arthouse movies. That said, some of his lesser known stuff is disturbing as hell.
- Negativland: While mostly humorous, they have some serious Fuel if you're not prepared for it. One of the tracks from the live album It's all in your head feature jarring, repetitive industrial rhythms as a woman talks about killing children. Yeah, it's not a wise choice to listen to going to sleep.
- The group created the "It's All In Your Head" pieces to convey their (especially Don Joyce's) belief that God does not exist and that religion is a harmful delusion. That'll do it.
- "Time Zones" from the Escape from Noise album freaked out many a late night listener when it was released.
- Nero's Day at Disneyland's "No Money Down Low Monthly Payments" starts just creepily, sounding like a twisted, demented circus for the first minute of the song until it rapidly turns into Aphex Twin on crack. Even scarier are the sounds that vaguely sound like children throughout the song.
- Oneohtrix Point Never: "Demerol". A creepy, warped, distorted loop of Michael Jackson's "Morphine". The repetition of the lyrics, "Demerol... Demerol, oh God, he's taking demerol!", combined with the constant speed-changing and other effects, make the whole thing very disturbing.
- Orbital: The Box (28 minute version), especially the second movement.
- Propergol: He's no stranger to scary music. His album Ground Proximity Warning System, for example, contains sound clips of distress calls from air crafts played over a droning background.
- Prurient: The alias of Dominic Fernow, whose musical output is at once incredibly diverse (these are all the same guy) and almost uniformly disturbing.
- Renard Queenston:
- Their creations under the Lapfox Trax label can oftentimes be creepy without even meaning to be, but their ambient horror album ''Silence'', made in the style of Silent Hill, can be difficult to listen to for just how creepy it gets, and the occasional spots of things getting "close" to you. See how much you can bear to listen to, preferably with headphones and in a dark room.
- "I will make room, I'll empty out / I'll make sure you can move about..."
- Renard's character in general. He didn't even look like that originally, which is also pretty scary.
- The cover arts for the rerelease of Trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder are worth mentioning.
- Roisin Murphy: "Ramalama (Bang Bang)". Do. Not. Listen. To. It. At. Night. And for all of your sakes, do not listen to it at night with the lights off.
- Severed Heads: "Dead Eyes Opened" has been permanently traumatizing for some. There is a short tale called "Accusing Eyes of Vengeance" from 50 Great Horror Stories that has the exact same narrative as the above song. Creepy as hell.
- Sopor Aeturnus and The Ensemble of Shadows: * Despite its elaborate name, is made up of a grand total of one people. She has a few disturbing tracks - this one, for instance. Even the ones that are just calm melodies are spine-chillingly haunting.
- Steve Roden, a guy you've probably never heard of, is the almighter creator of the lowercase genre, and while his music is typically calming, quite, or barely there, some of his stuff can be kind of creepy.
- "Stars of Ice" having creepy tone played over and over then slowly builds on itself adding more creepy noises until a looping indecipherable vocal track comes in.
- "Arria (hanging garden) second version," has a looping bass tone, creepy electronic sounds, and very quiet and deranged sounding vocal lasting for over 10 minutes.
- "A Quiet Flexible Background for a Harmonious Life." Creepy electronic noises play as a quiet tone slowly builds up in the background.
- Suicide: "Frankie Teardrop." It's just a primitive lawn-sprinkler drum machine, two obsessive notes on a cheap keyboard, and an increasingly-neurotic guy telling you a nasty story, yet it gets so tensed-up and uncomfortably creepy that the genuinely shocking, bloodcurdling screams almost come as a relief.
- Some say the Lydia Lunch version is even more terrifying.
- Think Tree: "Doh" tells the heart-rending story of a girl who was forced to watch her whole family be massacred by soldiers, then ends with a frantic woman running in fear, getting calls from a person who wants to kill her.
My baby sister, Nguyen,Fresh from her mother's womb,Her face was left a gardenfor bullets' bulbs to bloomRight before my eyes.
- Velvet Eden: Some of this Visual Kei/Darkwave band instrumental pieces, such as And Schism and Confession can be pretty terrifying. The videos make it about 10x worse.
- わたしのココ: "コンプレックス," A straight-up callback to the early years of Industrial, its instrumentation is overdriven and minimal, backed with electronics that alternate between looming and in-your face. The lyrics border on hateful, and the Voice of the Legion treatment pretty much strips away all of LaLaVoice's moe aspects.
- Whitehouse: Their music was more or less designed to be difficult to listen to, with strong transgressive themes and atonal, sometimes outright painful instrumentation. Lyrical themes included murder, prostitution, sexual sadism, and extreme misogyny, delivered with remarkable sincerity. Memorable works include "Just Like A Cunt," (A.K.A. "A Cunt Like You") "Rapeday," and "Baby," a piece of tape music which sounds remarkably like a small child being drowned in a bathtub.
- White Noise: "Black Mass: An Electric Storm In Hell" - the first minute or so is an attempt at Ominous Latin Chanting that induces a little bit of narm, but then it explodes into six minutes of chaotic phased drum soloing, strange electronic noises, and tormented screams of agony.
- World's End Girlfriend: "We are the Massacre". Just ignore that video, and listen to the nice pretty classical music, and the gradually fading in screams of horror, crying, and disturbing whispers. It all stays below the volume of the music, making it even creepier somehow.
- :wumpscut:: "Autophagy Day", which involves a man eating his own body; "Bloodbathing Tub", which speaks for itself; "Siamese" which involves one of the Siamese twins killing the other; "The Boo" where the main character's father does untold things to him and he takes revenge years after, much in the same fashion.
- ZZT: Both the song and music video for it entitled "Lower State of Consciousness". One word: Ants. Full Stop.
- A Winter Night's Nightmare by Eduardo C. The entirety of it is creepy, but Sleep Paralysis is the one that will definitely not going to let you sleep tonight, specially if you know what Sleep Paralysis is.
- Nicole Dollanganger is a young Canadian singer/songwriter; her music's defining features are her clear, sweet voice, and the dark, raw things that she tends to express using it. A list of songs of hers that feature creepy undertones would be a mile long, but the worst offenders are "Flowers of Flesh and Blood" — named for a Japanese torture porn film— and "Choking Games."
- Boyd Rice and Friends: "Disneyland Can Wait." A distant-sounding tune scores Boyd's detached spoken word, which juxtaposes Disneyland-themed imagery with images of hell and wartime.
- Leonard Cohen succeeded in making HONF folk music on Songs of Love and Hate. Listen to "Dress Rehearsal Rag" and "Diamonds in the Mine." There's a reason there's a goth band named after one of this guy's songs.
- Bro Smith's "Bigfoot" was meant as just another silly 70s novelty song about a monster that was then in-vogue, but the atmosphere the music creates is rather ominous, and the lyrics don't really play the legend for laughs at all. "Lock your doors, board your windows, Bigfoot's on the prowl..."
- Similar to "Bigfoot" mentioned above is Steve Cook's "The Legend (of Dogman)", a spoken-word piece created for April Fools' Day describing encounters with the titular creature that managed to inspire several Urban Legends of its own. "Don't go out at night" indeed...
- Giles Corey:
- His self-titled album could just as well be called Nightmare Fuel: The Album. The album was conceived when sole member Dan Barrett was suicidally depressed, and is built largely around his experiments with a Voor's Head Device, which is a contraption produced by poking just enough holes in a plastic bag to keep yourself from passing out, and then tying it around your head. The opening track contains samples from a recording made while Barrett was passed out, and they are eerie beyond belief. Read the accompanying book for additional terror. It mentions his suicide attempt; a particular source of Fridge Horror is the fact that he still can't explain why he attempted it, but the implication is that his experiments with the device severely affected his mental state to the point where he lost control of himself.
- The follow-up, Deconstructionist, is ambient music explicitly designed to bring the listener into an altered state of consciousness. It comes with a disclaimer that people with severe mental illnesses probably should not listen to it, probably for obvious reasons. A lot of this is due to the album's almost constant use of binaural beats, which have been known to cause seizures. The overall effect of the album seems to be quite relaxing for most people, but some people have been quite terrified by it.
- The Deadfly Ensemble: "Horse on the Moor" is definitely this. It begins with the narration of how the "Wife" character rose from her grave, desperate for her husband and declaring that she loves him still. The song itself is about the husband cramming her wife's tomb with several things she enjoyed (such as a horse's head because "his love liked to ride", or one of the maids to "help her under there"). How does it get worse? Easy - the wife doesn't rise back from the dead at all, she was buried alive (as revealed in the final verse).
- Death In June:
- Brian Dewan: He wrote a song from the point of view of someone undergoing brain surgery. The idea behind the song is people tend to be awake during brain surgery and poking different parts of the brain causes different thoughts and emotions. The song starts out almost funny, with renditions of Happy Birthday and Yankee Doodle mixed in with random thoughts. Then he starts crowing like a rooster and crying "I want my oxygen mask!" The song descends further and further, and ends with him calling "Mommy?" over and over and over until the listener is curled up in fetal position trying to figure out what they did to deserve this level of Hell.
- Bob Dylan:
- "The Man in the Long Black Coat", which might be about a woman going away with the Devil or Death, or just a nice case of Nothing Is Scarier, but something scary happened there. His version is scary), but other artists, such as Joan Osborne, have also covered it to spooky success.
- "The Ballad of Hollis Brown". A both incredibly sad and incredibly disturbing tale of a poor farmer driven to desperate measures.
- Jandek: While the entire discography of the eccentric and reclusive folk/blues/who-knows-what musician may qualify as Nightmare Fuel for some, there are many instances in which the man out does himself. Especially when he screams.
- Nurse With Wound: Anything by them is deeply disturbing on a primal level, whether you understand why or not.
- Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio:Their Apocalips album which includes Hear The Sound Of The Black Flame Rising, Hell is My Refuge, and other creepy songs.
- Sol Invictus: They have a variety of incredibly disturbing songs, be they about cannibals or ghosts.
- Vienna Teng: "Radio" deserves particular mention for its liberal use of Adult Fear (terrorist attacks), but "Passage", "Pontchartrain", and "Watershed" deserve mention as well.
- 10 Years: The entire album Feeding the Wolves. However, "Now is the Time" stands out due to these two parts in particular
The bullet in the blood,
Came from those you love,
The bullet in the blood
''Came from those you trust'
- The Acacia Stain: "The Impaler". Despite the pretty funny video and having an awesome riff, the Serial Killery and misanthropic lyrics make the song horrifying.
- Acid Bath: Despite the over the top amount of death and gore in their songs, they avoid narm through a combination of lyrical imagery that runs the gamut from Surreal Horror to things that should not be done to the human body, and vocals that switch between slow and melodic Stoner Metal, classic black metal snarling, and distortion effects just barely on the wrong side of the Uncanny Valley. All of this is often juxtaposed with images of youth, beauty, and innocence. Here are some lyrics for the viewer's enjoyment:
"Jezebel": "She screams bloody murder as they chop off her fingers. So this is how it feels to die""Scream of the Butterfly": "She runs through fields of daisies. Yeah, it's just a shame that they eat their own babies.""Venus Blue": "I eat the razor, a mouth full of God's flesh. Sweating this blackness, I'm shitting this cold death.""The Mortician's Flame": "I can smell abortion on you, I can see through, I take the gun out of my mouth and point it at you."
- Admiral Angry:
- A bottom heavy sludge metal band from California. Think Queens of the Stone Age instrumentation slowed down to a crawl with shrieking Sunn O)))-esque vocal stylings. Never has a band name been so fitting.
- The majority of the album Buster was written by the guitarist while he was dying of complications from Cystic Fibrosis, and it shows in the sheer atonal profound hatred of man.
- Amon Amarth: "Where Death Seems to Dwell". It's about a dead man mindlessly wandering the freezing void beneath the earth until he reaches the gates of hell, and the even worse fate that waits within. It gets worse if you know the accompanying mythology, which dictates that he will remain, in agony, in this freezing hell until Ragnarok, the Norse apocalypse, when the God of Chaos will conscript him into an army comprised of the rotting remains of the inglorious dead and march on Asgard, leading to a battle which ends the universe. Then, maybe, he will be granted the mercy of fading from existence.
- Or how about "Where Silent Gods Stand Guard" which tells the tale of a Vampiristic, Serial-Killing Viking Cannibal.
- Anacrusis: Most of the band's discography qualifies as this; a sample is here. Perfect music to walk through an abandoned asylum in the dark, no lights, because that's what real men do.
- Anaal Nathrakh:
- "Regression to the Mean" is a great example - it has a heavily distorted air-raid siren blaring, a choir in the background offsetting that, and Atilla Csihar's ominous growls, which were then distorted even more.
- This song is easily one of the scariest things that you'll ever listen to, even if you're a fan of goregrind, death metal and extreme music in general. It's not the most brutal song of all time, but it's a good contender for most totally fucking necro song of all time.
- Anjo Gabriel: The two-part song Lucifer rising (both part 1 and part 2). The main thing that makes the song so scary is its unpredictability and general attempts at making you uncomfortable. You would normally start hearing something that feels pretty generic until it starts distorting itself. Only to switch back to a generic track that did not match the previous track at all. Add to it some very unfitting background sounds (such as pitches, water etc.) and you get something that will make you unsettling during the entire ride, as they seem to repeat this process the entire time.
- Avenged Sevenfold:
- "Bat Country". The lyrics are based on the bad acid trips experienced by Raoul in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
- "Little Piece of Heaven". A brief summary: A man loves his girlfriend, so he proposes to her. She rejects him. In a rage, he murders her, preserves her body, cannibalizes parts, and has his way with what is left. She goes back from Hell, and murders him for revenge. They meet up in the afterlife, and they realize the error of their ways, and get married, at which point they go on a killing spree.
- Battle of Mice: The vocals are downright creepy all the time. Two songs that take the cake are "Bones in the Water" and "At the Base of the Giant's Throat", the latter getting special mention because of the 911 phone call at the end. Even knowing that its origins are comparatively innocent doesn't make it anything other than intensely disturbing.
- Black Sheep Wall: Sludge Metal nutcases. Think Meshuggah slowed down to about half the speed, with the hatred dialed all the way up.
- Bloodbath: "Eaten". It seems like standard Death Metal fare and nothing exceptionally creepy for the genre, but then you read about the story behind the song. It's about the Armin Meiwes case, and is also the basis for the Rammstein song "Mein Teil".
- Blut aus Nord: The discography of this black metal band fits under this trope. Their music consists of atonal screams, atonal guitars, atonal everything else. And, dear god, is it terrifying.
- Burzum: The screamed vocals can be downright terrifying. Even more frightening is Varg himself. Keep in mind, a lot of Black Metal artists talk tough about murder and such, but don't have the actions to back themselves up. Varg Vikernes not only killed a bandmate, but also burned down multiple churches. In his interviews he shows no real remorse or regret for the acts, even joking about the arsons. The fact that a cold-blooded killer can be so honest and stark is quite chilling.
- Cannibal Corpse:
- Song names such as "Necropedophile" and "Meat Hook Sodomy" explains why much of their music is Nightmare Fuel.
- The lyrics of their earlier stuff tend to be a lot more nightmarish (especially "I Cum Blood" and "Entrails Ripped from a Virgin's Cunt"), although the lyrics have been toned down in their extremity since about the mid-nineties, when they got Corpsegrinder as a vocalist. In terms of actually terrifying songs, "Devoured by Vermin" and "Blood-Drenched Execution" definitely fit the bill. Of course, some of their stuff could easily be considered Nightmare Retardant.
- "Orgasm Through Torture" has Cannibal's signature gory lyrics, but the song itself is Nightmare Fuel period. Try to listen to the main riff alone at night.
- Cattle Decapitation:
- As with all deathgrind bands their lyrics can be potentially vomit-inducing at times with the over the top gore, but their song "Regret and the Grave" is the most unsettling. The piercing shriek of the guitars is a sound that will keep you awake for hours and thats not even counting the inhuman sounding vocals.
- "Testicular Manslaughter"? The intro? That's audio from a video of a Russian soldier being beheaded with a knife. The lyrics can be considered Nightmare Fuel too, though the fact that they're about castrating a rapist may take the edge off for some.
- Their new album kicks it a notch further. First off, there's the downright traumatizing video for "Kingdom of Tyrants". It's not just that, though; pretty much every single song on the album has some sort of deeply unsettling moment. The absolutely terrifying chorus of "Your Disposal" takes the cake, however.
- This is also the album featuring "Forced Gender Reassignment (extremely NSFW link). The lyrics alone can cause difficulty sleeping and extreme pain in sensitive regions.
- While Travis Ryan is a very mellow, down-to-earth person offstage, he is this trope onstage. Uncanny Valley is his specialty.
- Celtic Frost:
- "Danse Macabre," and to a lesser extent, "Tears in a Prophet's Dream," is a literal musical embodiment of this trope, featuring horrifying sounds of violin strings scraping, distorted, layered whining voices, and eerie voices speaking something that sounds like "come to me."
- Pretty much the entire album of Monotheist is pure Nightmare Fuel. Especially "Dying God Coming into Human Flesh," featuring strange, unidentafiable sounds, reversed vocals, layered feedback, and lyrics that form an ominous mantra. But the song that really takes the cake is "Tottengot," which is German for "Dead God," and features disturbing lyrics sung in a terrifying hiss.
- The song "Abeo" sounds pretty unsettling for a Nu Metal band (as they were at the time).
- Cradle of Filth:
- Try having a good night's sleep after listening to "Dinner at Deviant's Palace" or "Venus in Fear". Extremely unsettling.
- Dani Filth's unnaturally shrill screams are just terrifying. He sounds like a female murder victim from a horror movie at times. Other vocal techniques he uses always sounds eerie, too; his deep voice sounds like Satan himself.
- As a bonus for curious tropers, here's Dinner at Deviant's Palace in reverse.
- Cradle of Thorns: "Behave", because of the beautifully creepy way Ty's screams mingle with Tamera's lovely voice. Not to mention the song is about a sophisticated, church-going, college graduated serial killer that murders just to see his work on the news.
- Crimson Glory play rather fanciful progressive metal, but the occasional song (Especially from the first album) manage to sneak through as nightmare fuel. You have Dragon Lady with it's loud Evil Laugh in the beginning, Azrael with lyrics like "If you hold the evil, I'll RIP YOU ALL APART" and the somber Lost Reflection which is about a man locked in an attic for eternity having no company but his own reflection in a dusty mirror.
You're lyin'Hey!Ha, ha, ha, ha!You're not me!
- On the album Once Was Not, there are at least four songs worthy of this trope. "Luminum" and "The End" because they're just so damn haunting, and "In The Kingdom Where Everything Dies, the Sky Is Mortal" and "Endless Cemetery" because they're, for lack of a better word, apocalyptic in nature.
- There is a group for "real metal fans" on last.fm, where one of the criteria for getting in was to "fall asleep listening to Cryptopsy". Needless to say, few people got in.
- Deadsoul Tribe: "Some Things You Can't Return"; while the music is Darkerand Edgier than its lyrics, its lyrics imply that every time someone visits your house, they leave a shadow-image of themselves behind - and that these shadows are malignant.
- Deadsy: "Itty Bitty Titty Girl." Despite the humorous title, the song is quite disturbing, since it's sung from the perspective of an obvious pedophile. As the song progresses, the music and vocals become more and more distorted, adding to the creepiness.
- Deathspell Omega: They sound nothing like a human band and everything like a sonic reinterpretation of the many layers of hell.
- Defeated Sanity: The Lovely sounds of a girl getting brutally tortured...then seemingly killed via being skinned alive in the beginning of this song.
- A Welsh death metal band fits this, especially their debut album Gore and Perversion. It was so bad that authorities arrested band members and destroyed almost all copies of the record, including the masters.
- That album was finally released as Gore and Perversion 2 in 2002. They used different artwork and no lyrics, but eventually both the artwork and the lyrics leaked to the internet. The lyrics don't just cross the line; they utterly obliterate the line, have it for dinner, and run miles ahead of where the line once was. The three worst songs are entitled "Penile Dissection," "Fontanelle Fornication," and "I.A.I." That's right, that last one was so horrific they had to abbreviate the title. You can find the original artwork and lyrics on their page.
- Diamond Head: Their most well-known song, "Am I Evil?". The opening riff, by itself is already a sign of things to come: it's as evil as the title indicates. And then the lyrics come: it's about a guy who goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge after witnessing his mother getting burned at the stake.
On with the action now, I'll strip your pride
I'll spread your blood around, I'll see you ride
Your face is scarred with steel, wounds deep and neat
Like a double dozen before you, smells so sweet
- And the Metallica cover might be even scarier, if only thanks to the ominous prelude they added to the aforementioned riff.
- Dimmu Borgir: "Puritania". A song that starts "we'll do away with your kind" and then a robotic voice saying "exterminate the human race." and finishes with "Earth successfully erased". Most of the song is sung by someone impersonating a demonic robot.
- Disgorge: For reasons unknown, this Mexican brutal death band decided to put this quite unfitting and haunting melody at the beginning of "Raise the Pestilence". Just check your sound levels before playing it.
Save me, from wreaking my vengeance upon you!(Translation: Stop me from killing you; I can't control myself!)
- "Inside the Fire". Mostly if you know what the lyrics are about and have experienced the pain.
- The breakdown of "Down With the Sickness," depending on who you ask.
- "Hell" sounds like a revenge-rock anthem, until the second bridge:
- Electric Wizard: "I, The Witchfinder".
I am albino, evil witchfinderI'll cleanse her sins, for witchcraft I condemn herMy implements of torture are bloody redYour confession to sorcery will leave you deadI'll pierce her flesh to find his markTorture, my pleasure, true servant of the dark
- Evergrey: The album In Search of Truth. It tells the story of a man who is (or thinks he is) constantly being abducted by aliens every night. He is tortured, physically and psychologically, often stripped bare and sexually abused. He's further isolated as even those closest to him don't believe his claims about what's happening to him. In the end, it turns out that he was the subject of some sort of an experiment and his tormentors were human all along.
- Faith No More:
- They and Mike Patton are known for covering some unconventional topics for such a big-name band, but the track "Jizzlobber" from Angel Dust has got to be one of the most horrifying songs ever, for its themes as much as its music. Patton has stated it's about his fears of going to prison (and therefore, a very adult-orientated nightmare fuel), and the song may even be about Prison Rape.
- Anyone willing to get themselves scared shitless should listen to Mike Patton's Adult Themes for Voice album late at night with the lights off; it features 40 minutes of him making some of the most fucked-up noises you will ever hear. If you make it all the way through you will be a different person.
- How about "Edge of the World"? Sounds innocuous, but Adult Fear doesn't begin to describe it (it's sung from a pedophile's POV, after all).
- Delirium Cordia is a horror concept album. The entire album consists of one track over an hour long entitled "Surgical Specimens From the Museum of Skin". The track contains a myriad of unsettling sounds, from surgical instruments to melancholic, monotonous piano. Further driving the point home: the interior artwork of the album consists of photograph excerpts from The Sacred Heart, a book of surgical photography.
- Director's Cut is an pretty unsettling album too. Some of the songs can be considered pure paranoia fuel, with the way the theme changes from heavy to light and back to heavy again constantly.
- Forever Slave: Alice's Inferno is about a teenaged girl confined to a mental hospital for killing her parents. What follows is basically a journey through her tortured subconscious, based on Dante's Inferno and Alice in Wonderland. The whole thing is such a perverted blend of beauty, innocence, arcane rituals, drugs, and diabolical evil revealed through death growl vocals, Gregorian chants, and a soaring soprano. "In the Forest" and "Aquelarre" are great examples.
- Gaza: "I Don't Care Where I Go When I Die". Sure, it may sound fairly normal at first for metal, but that quickly fades away to a bombardment of noise with terrifying tortured screams. Have fun sleeping at night.
- Gorguts: Obscura, especially the linked song "Sweet Silence". The last minute always catches you off guard.
- Hell: Their entire album Human Remains, where you have songs with subject matters ranging from burning in Hellnote , the Black Plaguenote , insanitynote , dark Shakespearenote and imprisonmentnote . The intros to different songs build a chilling atmosphere, and the evilest sounding music plays while the vocalist spews out demented ravings like a psychotic madman. This album was actually made in the 1980's, and didn't get released until 2011. If it's so scary now, imagine how horrifying it would've been (espesically to non-metalheads) at a time where metal was already controversy for sounding so evil.
- Hellhammer: "Triumph of Death".
"When...you... / Have...been... / Down...in your grave... / ALIVE!!!"
- Helloween: The intros for both The Dark Ride album and its corresponding title track. Horrifying!
- Horse The Band: Their lyrics are really terrifying. Especially with the creepy angry face howling at a little pink bunny and beating it around the ears with a massive jack-hammer, and the creepy lyrics:
"Roaring with whispers, to the tiny bunnies: SQUISH those fucking bunnies!(x2) Twitching bleeding screaming, bring the hammer down! Screaming bunnies, bleeding bloody bunnies, smeared across the ground"
- Iced Earth: Dante's Inferno, the song. A sixteen minute-long trip through the nine circles of Hell, experiencing all the tortures it had. This time, however, you're Dante.
- Intestinal Disgorge: Early albums them sound just barely sound human.
- Judas Priest: "The Ripper", a song from the first-person view of Jack The Ripper, filled to the brim with Paranoia Fuel and a bridge that, at one point, has a guitar mimicking the screams of one of his victims.
- Katatonia: "Untrue". It begins with a slow, mournful riff played on clean guitars, which is repeated many times, then suddenly explodes into a heavy death-doom passage accentuated by Mikael Ĺkerfeldt's growling vocals...and then the heavy part is over as suddenly as it began, and you're back to the non-distorted riff until the song fades out.
- Khanate: They are known to be this in musical form. 
- King Diamond: Albums about living paintings, corpses made into puppets by a deranged magician and are very aware and alive, ground glass in dinner... his album concepts are pure Nightmare Fuel.
- Thanks to his vocal skills, King manages to turn an offering of tea into this in "Them".
- Korn: "Twist", which can't help but evoke the image of evisceration by a wolverine with rabies. However, the song could also be considered the Crowning Moment of Funny in this video.
- Kyuss: "Freedom Run. Free to run. Freedom run..." But watch the video for "Demon Cleaner" to see a whole new level of terrifying.
- James LaBrie: His solo album Elements of Persuasion has one such song: "Drained". It's about a man stalking himself in his home, often returning to the room he just left, and being completely aware of (and somewhat welcoming toward) the fact that he's losing his mind.
- Linkin Park: Some of the lyrics to "Figure.09" are strangely unsettling.
You've become a part of meYou'll always be right hereYou've become a part of meYou'll always be my fearI can't separateMyself from what I've doneGiving up a part of meI've let myself become you
- Living Colour: They were always kind of a happy go lucky band during the eighties, but took on a much darker tone on 1993's Stain, which included the nightmarish "Hemp", a spoken word bit about strangling someone with a hemp rope. The same album also contains the song "Go Away" wich has some of the most depressing and existentially horrifying lyrics imaginable.
I don't want anybody to touch me, i think that everybody has AIDS. What's the point in caring for you? You're gonna die anyway.
- Macabre: Every song they do is inspired by and about the serial killers of the world, and often goes into lurid detail about their crimes. It would be Nightmare Retardant if it wasn't for the fact that it all actually happened.
- Malice Mizer:
- "N.p.s. N.g.s. (No pains no gains)." Any song containing the line "so I ate him" said by a high-pitched female voice is just begging to be listed here. The high voice is Kami, the drummer, talking into a voice distorter. Given that Malice Mizer suffered from Kami Existence Failure not too long after the song was released, that doesn't really help.
- From the early days: "Baroque" (It's just photos; there's not a music video). If you didn't know what the song meant, you wouldn't get too freaked out right away. Yes, the singer's tone seems rather desperate, but it's not until you realize that he's singing to the corpse of the woman he has just strangled to death that things get truly unnerving.
- While any song that Dead wrote counts as this, a special mention goes to "Life Eternal" a song about finding immortality and fulfillment in death. What separates this from the usual Transylvanian horror fare is that the song was most likely autobiographical; Dead was speculated to have Cotard's Delusion, meaning that he felt that he was already dead and trapped in a false life. Dead found his way out when he sliced open his wrists and blew his brains out with a 12-gauge. Knowing that makes the song itself sound like Dead's suicide note.
- Megadeth: "Good Mourning/Black Friday." The song is about being possessed by a demon and then going out and murdering people with a hammer. The way Dave sings "And I will cut you down" is horrifying.
- Ministry's album The Land of Rape And Honey might not be very creepy or disturbing in itself musically, but try to figure out what the abstract album art really do resemble in the middle of the night. If you see it, it cannot be unseen.
- Mortification: "Livin' Like a Zombie", possibly because it was in BME Pain Olympics.
- Motorhead: The title track from the 1992 album March Ör Die. It features, among other things, a creepy organ that brings Funeral Doom to mind, extra gritty vocals from Lemmy and ultra depressing lyrics describing how the world will be destroyed through militarism, predatory capitalism and social unrest, like "Sword and shield and jackboot heel, we love to kill, we love to kill, we love to taste of our own blood, squirm in our own gore" and "For earth to heal then we must die, no one deserves it more".
- Nile: "Howling of the Jinn". The lyrics combine almost every primal fear: being covered in insects, voices of madness, suffocation, and being devoured by snakes. That's not even getting into the scream near the middle of the song.
- Nuclear Death: "Days of the Weak". Not only is it a particularly unhinged and apocalyptic death metal tune, but the lyrics are some of the sickest ever put to music.
- Oak: "The House on Reed's End Road". The title basically says all with that song, and the eerie, haunting opening riff doesn't help. The vocals emit whining, dramatic and a ghastly moan, with some lyrics depicting a classic haunted house scenario to boot. Others are just as terrifying, what with titles like "The Witch, Cross and Stream" and the ever chilling title of the final track, "In Graveyards, On Darkened Nights".
- Ocean Chief: Most songs are just straightforward stoner doom metal songs, such as "Galleons from the Sun." However, twelve minutes into the song, we get a Jaws like, somewhat creepy melody, and at 13:10, when you least expect it, a freaking monolithic riff tears through that could startle Chuck Norris with ease. And after it goes back to the Jaws melody, you keep expecting it to get heavy again, but it just loops over and over, and fades out of existence. Tobias' creeping chanting of "I am the one..." at the end doesn't help much, either.
DeliveranceThrown back at meDeliveranceLaughing at me
- This song's about drowning someone to death, which is creepy in and of itself, but something about this bit is chilling, especially when it leads into the sinister, repetitive outro.
- Pageninetynine: Played mostly run-off-the-mill punk/grindcore in their early years but their fascination with the macabre combined with musical experimentation and the effect of living in The Deep South led to some music that had no screaming or thrashing in it but made up for it in sheer creepiness. It's like if Faulkner played punk rock.
- Peccatum: "Desolate Ever After" and "Stillness", both from the same album. The former is better by the fact that its lyrics were meant to be a Tear Jerker, while the latter is pure nightmare fuel incarnate. Here's a passage:
Sickening, sickening placeFramed snapshots of buzzing stillnessNoisy poloroid facesWith tick, tack, clock, with tick, tack, clock voices
- Pig Destroyer:
Like explosions in space and prostitutes of fire.(silence)(silence)And prostitutes of fire.(longer silence)And prostitutes of fire!
- Their lyrics are incredibly nightmarish. David Lynch doesn't have squat on JR Hayes.
- The album Terrifyer is appropriately named. Even the album cover is disturbing as fuck, depicting a nude girl in a red background with deformed breasts and a face concealed by blackness.
- And then there's Natasha, an EP taken up by a single, 37-minute long song named "Natasha". It's so fucking unpleasant and nihilistic it's almost painful to listen to.
- The reprise of Jennifer that follows "Piss Angel" (starting at 2:34) is just horrific. You drift away listening to that awful CG-voice narrating and at some point you snap out of it, noticing that the horrible sound in the background is growing louder, and then it says "...She knew that sooner or later they would realize that the ride wasn't stopping and they were all going to die." and shuts up, but the sound doesn't stop, and then your brain clicks and you realize that he was talking about you realizing that "the ride" isn't stopping.
- Another notable song from the same album (Prowler In The Yard) is Body Scout, considering how it ends:
- The Plasmarifle: "Haunted by the ghost of a dead actress". It's an enjoyable song, but it quickly turns unnerving when the whispers start. Listen to it at midnight with no lights on and think it's not terrifying.
- Reverend Bizarre has a little-known single version of their song "Slave of Satan", which has a satanic speech in the beginning not featured on the album version. Some find it distinctly unnerving, with demonic voices chanting "Shemhamforash" in the background while the man rants on against all things Christian.
- Saltatio Mortis: The German Folk Metal band gives us "Koma", which is either this or a Tear Jerker. The song is from the perspective of a person who lies in a coma, describing his sufferings, growing insanity and longing for salvation. Unless you understand the lyrics, it is probably not that bad until the end.
- Sentenced: "Excuse Me While I Kill Myself." The name is bad enough, but the fact that the song is so upbeat and catchy when it's about shooting yourself in the head is just evil.
- Silencer: A Swedish suicidal black metal band who released one album, fronted by one Nattramn, who has an interesting backstory. He's a paranoid schizophrenic who was institutionalized. There are also rumors that he attempted to kill a six-year old girl with an axe, took psychiatric ward workers hostage, tried to kill himself and the cops and that he cut off his own hands and replaced them with pigs' legs. The last is only supported by a well-known disturbing picture of Nattramn though, so it's false, but who knows what other fucked up things he has done. He also has the most deranged and psychotic vocals you'll ever hear.
- Skinless: Their song "Execution Of Reason" begins with a sample with a man saying, "They say a hanging man hears glorious music. I wonder what it sounds like." And then the man apparently hangs himself.
- "The Virus of Life" is one song that should never, ever be played while you're lying in a dark bedroom trying to fall asleep.
- Other creepy Slipknot songs are "Prosthetics", "Tattered and Torn", and the 15-minute nightmare epic, "Iowa".
- "Frail Limb Nursery" also deserves a mention with that eerie monologue, but the worst one they have is Scissors, where Corey screams himself into a delirium and breaks down for real in the studio.
- Stalaggh: This vaguely Black Metal-related noise project consists of the sound of insane people straight out of mental wards locked up together in cathedrals, toppling over each other frantically while shrieking endlessly and inadvertently evoking the sound of the complete chaos, confusion and all-consuming sorrow lurking in the most base end of the human psyche, and is pretty much the most unnerving thing you could ever hope to listen to. The "performers" supposedly consented to take part in these recordings, though it's been called into question whether anyone that far gone into mental instability can really consent to being exploited for art in this way; thus, Stalaggh has always been a very controversial act and is often name-checked among Black Metal acts known for their often exaggerated crimes against humanity. (If you're wondering how this counts as Black Metal, there are trem riffs hidden in the cacophony occasionally, but they don't serve as much more than window dressing for obvious reasons). Listen here.
- Star of Ash: "Drag Them Down" (from the album The Thread) is a very peaceful instrumental song if you disregard the half-heard, oppressive and irregular drum beat in the background, almost like a heart slowing down, and the sound of a car trunk slamming down, followed by the barely-audible jangle of keys. Coupled with the rest of the album, you just know what's in that trunk. It far from the only Star of Ash song to have potential Nightmare Fuel.
- Sunn O))):
- They have very disturbing songs, even if the vocals don't say much; they're usually just screams. The sheer darkness of their music is enough to give nightmares. See for yourself.
- There's also Sunn O)))'s "Bathory Erzsebet". For those who don't know, this is a song in which famed black metal vocalist Malefic was recorded while performing vocals inside a coffin. Malefic is claustrophobic. The microphone outside the coffin records his vocal performance - one inside just records his terrified breathing.
- The entire subgenre of "drone metal" (which is what Sunn 0))) belongs to) is pretty creepy, too.
- Teeth of Lions Rule the Divine:
- "The Smiler", where vocalist Lee Dorian gives an incredibly tortured vocal performance which sounds like a man on the edge of a dreadful acid trip. It will rattle your spine.
- Also theres "He Who Accepts All That Is Offered", from the same album, a scarily realistic monolouge of drug abuse and its consequences.
- 3 Inches Of Blood: The song "Premonition of Pain." "THE TYRANT IS HERE, TO TAKE UP YOUR THRONE, TO TAKE OFF YOUR HEAD, BEFORE TAKING YOUR CROWN!!! THE MYSTIC HE LAUGHS, YOU SHOULD HAVE LISTENED TO ME, BUT NOW YOU BEG FOR YOUR LIFE ON YOUR KNEES!!!" Then it ends with "The price... paid in blood... the price... paid in blood... just pray that the blood is not yours."
- 1349: If you know your historynote , the name alone is chilling enough. The title-track off Hellfire packs enough nightmare fuel for the album (not counting the other songs). The last minute is filled with nothing but the sounds of something burning and a dark Evil Laugh.
- Torsofuck: "Raped by Elephants". Yeah, it sounds funny at first. Then you'll hear the intro.
- Devin Townsend: The majority of the album Ocean Machine/Biomech is angsty and a bit depressing at its worst. The last song is a peaceful one, something you'd listen to while watching a sunset while out on a boat. And then when the song has ended and you're at the peak of peace and relaxation...
- Trivium: The songs "Unrepentant" and "Entrance Of The Conflagration" are based on absurdly disturbing events in which parents murdered their own children. Read up on them and watch your hands get sweaty for the rest of the day.
- Twisted Sister: After you go through two cheerful songs on Stay Hungry, the title track and We're Not Gonna Take It, The mood suddenly shifts to a bleak and desolate song called Burn In Hell. Take a guess what it's about...
- Type O Negative: For those interested in cocaine, alcohol, and tobacco, they made "Sinus", "Liver", and "Lung", respectively. This is especially disturbing as they were made to be as accurate as possible. The lead singer couldn't stand listening to "Sinus" in particular due to his cocaine habit- it was like foreshadowing as the habit eventually killed him.
- Vektor: They usually sing about science fiction-themed stuff, but one song on their debut is a notable exception: Hunger For Violence, a gristly tale of a wasteland taken over by a mad scientist who implants mind-control chips in the brains of wasteland survivors to conquer what's left. The lyrics are very ominous, and there's this segment:
- Velvet Cacooon: The album Genevieve is predominantly fairly conventional ambient black metal with hints of shoegaze. But the last track, "Bete Noire", is 17 minutes of the most paranoia- and anxiety-inducing ambient electronica you will ever hear. Here's the first and second halves.
- Warbringer: "Living Weapon." At one point in the song (Hiding right behind you/But you won't see me there) the vocals are modified so that, if you are wearing headphones, the voice literally sounds like it's coming from ''right behind you.''
- Wewelsburg: "Fatal Futurism Factory". It begins with some mysterious, atmospheric noises, a dog barks, then a man rants under his breath about there being no escape. It is very unclear what he's trying to escape from. A demonic voice tells him, "Where are you going? It's too late for you. We can see you. You're going to die." And then, a Creepy Child voice lamenting, "Everything is dark here! Why did you let me die?"
- Xasthur: Recently ended, this ambient black metal project created what can only be described as slow-burning dissonant hellscapes.
- Zero Hour:
- A Fragile Mind deals with a man who, after having brain surgery that drives him insane since the anesthetic somehow doesn't take, gains the ability to jump into people's bodies, erasing their personalities in the process. He promptly uses it on the woman he loves.
- The Towers of Avarice tells the story of a future where gigantic, mechanical towers are all that's left, humans are worked to death in them and their corpses are used to feed the towers; a rebel named Subterrenean is free, and he hatches a plan to destroy the towers. After failing and finding himself inside the towers, Subterrenean finds out that the towers are actually run by men, who are slowly drawing the free people into the towers to be enslaved by the machinery forever.
Musical Theater/Performance Art
- Three Penny Opera. Mob hitman or serial killer? You decide. Lyrical Dissonance at its best/worst.
On the sidewalk, Oh Sunday morning don’t you know
Lies a body just oozing life
And Someone's sneaking around the corner
Could that be our boy Mack the Knife?
- Circus Contraption:
- Try listening to "Toy Shop Armagedon" at night in the dark without getting the chills and/or closing the window. Especially when it gets to the middle of the song, and things start to get even more...distorted.
- "The Slaughter's Promenade" fits in here as well. That. Damn. Crack. Never fails to cause nightmares.
- Evelyn Evelyn: "Tragic Events of September 1" in which the girls' birth leads to the death of their parents, the doctor, and a passing cop, and Evelyn Evelyn shows how little fun it is being part of a Multiple Head Case.
- Jesus Christ Superstar: The crucifixion scene from the original cast recording.
- KA: The entirety of the soundtrack for this Cirque du Soleil performance. Unlike most of their soundtracks, which are divided between catchy upbeat tunes like "Kunya Sobe" and "Alegria," most of this one is creepy simlish chants and fast-paced drumbeats. "Pursuit" is a particularly nightmare-inducing example.
- Spring Awakening: "The Dark I Know Well" is a song about sexual abuse, which is as horrific and sad as it sounds. The music is horrendously dissonant, Martha and Ilse's parents cut in with disturbing commentarynote , and the refrain is especially horrible:
You say all you want is just a kiss goodnightAnd then you hold me and you whisper,"Child, the Lord won't mind.It's just you and me.Child, you're a beauty."
- Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street: "Mea Culpa" is divided between Judge Turpin perving on his teenage adopted daughter and scourging himself in a futile attempt at penance.
- Tiger Lillies: They mine a rich seam of grotesquerie, Brecht-style cabaret and vile, hilarious depravity. If you're not into them, any song might make you lose sleep, but they can sometimes tweak a scary nerve even for fans. Their latest offering, The Little Match Girl (a nasty tale in itself), has a song mentioning "long golden hair." In the stage version, the Match Girl's father collects her discarded hair, which as he pulls at it proves to be nightmarishly long. Ultimately there is a twisted rope of hair winding back and forth between a series of successively-smaller sets, as the "golden" hair refrain is repeated with greater intensity. And then the Match Girl herself comes back to wind it all up again! Perhaps not that upsetting in itself, but if you've got some sort of anti-hair fetish...
- The song 1940 by the Submarines is pretty freaky, especially the very beginning 'Something's wrong when you re-gret things that haven't happened yet...'
- Unnamed Creepy Man: The year is one thousand nine hundred and forty... and something... isn't right...
- aha: "Scoundrel Days" sounds energetic and spirited. Then you read the lyrics, which are from the viewpoint of a madman who slits his wrists, rants madly and hallucinates heavily before running around and throwing himself off a cliff in front of his townspeople. Holy Mind Screw and Lyrical Dissonance, Batman.
- Annie: "The Wedding." The repeating uncanny voices in it can be quite frightening when you are by yourself.
- Aqua: "Halloween" goes into this category, with its Scream-inspired outro and everything.
- The Buoys: Humourist Dave Barry's Bad Song Survey turned up an unexpected #4: "Timothy". The Buoys were apparently deliberately trying to record a song so gross they'd be banned and reap lots of free publicity. That they were abetted by Rupert Holmes - the dude responsible for the "Escape (The Pina Colada Song)" - is somehow nightmarish all by itself. The result is a catchy pop tune in which, as Barry notes, "the singer appears to be saying that he...well, that he ate the subject of the song. Really." Then he quotes these lyrics:
Timothy, Timothy, Joe was lookin' at youTimothy, Timothy, God what did we do?...My stomach was full as it could beAnd nobody ever got around to finding Timothy.
- Jonathan Coulton: "Creepy Doll" is a second person narrative featuring an old house, a "bag of big city money", and a creepy doll that haunts its victims. By the end of the song the protagonist, fed up, locks the doll in the box it came from and throws it onto the fireplace. "As the smoke fills up your tiny room, there's nothing you can do/ Far too late, you see the one inside the box is you..."
And now it's time to go to bedI'm still awake inside my bedI'm floating up above the house and looking downI guess I gotta go back thereI guess there never was any other answerAnd as the freeway hums, the cars go byThe headlights roll across the skyMany miles away and I can see them speeding through the dark...
- "Shop Vac" is a weird little song about a miserable life in suburbia, but has a dark undertone that's hard to place the first few times you listen to it. The last verse is creepy and somewhat unhinged by itself:
- And that's before you listen more carefully to the news report being muttered during the verse. "A 45 year old man went berserk last night with a shotgun..."
- Cady Grooves - "This Little Girl" is capable of murder. Because you hurt her.
- Grace Jones: An upliftingly titled song called "Corporate Cannibal." Sweet dreams.
- The fourth track off the album/suite "Slave To The Rhythm," entitled "Operattack," responsible for the oft-sampled "Annihilating rhythm" quote. Can you say "Fairlight Overload"?
- Madonna: "Mer Girl." It is the last song on her Ray Of Light album and definitely closes it on a...somber note, to say the least. The entire song sounds like it could easily fit into a Silent Hill game, and the closing lyrics are a shining example of this trope...
"And I smelled her burning flesh...
Her rotting bone...
I ran and I ran, I'm still running away..."
- Sarah McLachlan: "Possession." This song was actually based off the deranged love letters sent to the singer by an obsessive stalker, who eventually sued her for the song content and killed himself later on. The song itself has a creepy gothic tone to it, sounding romantic at first but growing to become more unsettling by the second. The music video, depicting various Christian scenes and McLachlan's body wrapped in cloth and swinging across the screen, is also quite eerie. The chorus? "And I would be the one/ to hold you down/ kiss you so hard/ I take your breath away/ and after I'd/ wipe away the tears/ just close your eyes, dear"
- The Monkees: "Star Collector". On the surface, a sly song about a groupie. Until someone (Mickey Dolenz?) starts repeating in the background during the fade-out (in a creepy-weird, high-pitched monotone) "bye bye! bye bye! bye bye!" Funny comedic boy-band, my ass.
- Gwen Stefani: The outro to "Yummy" (starting at 3:40 in this video. The rest of the song is unsettling enough, but the ominous drums kick in, then the tuba and organ... sounds like a fucking demonic circus.
- Helen Reddy's "Angie Baby". A strange girl with a radio. A peeping Tom. It does not end well for the peeping Tom.
- Rihanna: "Disturbia." Just your typical catchy, dancey pop son, right? Well... here's a snippet of the lyrics:
"It's a thief in the night to come and grab you
It can creep up inside you and consume you
A disease of the mind it can control you
It's too close for comfort..."
- Skylar Grey's "Final Warning". The song is already creepy, featuring lyrics about a very abusive relationship set to upbeat hip-hop beats (and one can take Grey's "Someone's gonna get hurt, la la la la, la la la la..." line as a sign of Sanity Slippage), but then comes the bridge, where listeners are treated to the pleasant background sounds of a woman and man screaming, hurting each other and breaking stuff, followed by the woman maniacally laughing, a gun cocking sound, and a loud gunshot.
- 10cc: "I'm Not In Love". The whole song is incredibly somber as it is, but the instrumental part in the middle that has a female voice whispering "Be quiet, big boys don't cry." over and over again, can make one lose a lot of sleep after hearing it.
- Laurie Anderson: She has some music that can qualify, much of it on her live album Home of the Brave. Most notably nightmarish are "Late Show", based on an unsettling sample of William S. Burroughs' voice, as well as the album's rendition of "Sharkey's Night." Anderson uses her "big voice" (electronically pitched down) for this and it ends with a sound horrifyingly like some kind of alarm to warn people of an impending nuclear holocaust.
- Arena: "The Butterfly Man", while mysterious and ominous in its instrumentation, is told from the perspective of a man who has been kidnapped by a cosmic being dubbed "The Butterfly Man" who keeps souls/beings and has a collection of them. The worst part isn't that the victims (or "trophies") are aware/immortal, that they themselves allowed the Butterfly Man to kidnap them/went directly to the Butterfly Man for one reason or another, implied to be desire or greed.
- Blue Oyster Cult:
I'm the harvester of eyesI'm just walkin' down the streetI see a garbage can, I pick it upI look through all the garbageTo see if there are any eyes insideI'll put 'em in my pink leather bagAnd take all their eye ballsAnd I bleed with 'emAs I plead with their eyes all nightSo if you see me walkin' down the streetYou'd better get out of the wayAnd put on your eye glasses'cause I'm gonna take your eyes home with me...
- If you hear them, many of their songs sound happy and upbeat. But if you listen listen to the lyrics... here's an example. In the background of "Harvester of Eyes" during the solo you can hear some stuttering, but it's really hard to make out what it says:
- Joan Crawford. Mother's home, indeed!
- Can's "Aumgn" and "Peking O" can have this effect on people.
- Comus: First Utterance. The music often sounds very malevolent for being largely acoustic and folk-influenced. The lyrics of two different songs deal with murder and rape, with a third that heavily implies rape but has no murder elements. Other lyrical concerns include a hanging and being put in a Bedlam House. Even "The Herald", which is about daylight coming and making everything peaceful again, is still pretty eerie sounding thanks to its prominent use of theremin.
- "The Prisoner", which is the one about the Bedlam House, concludes the album with a Last Note Nightmare: The last proper lyric is "Don't drive me insane", and then the word "insane!" is looped and starts bouncing from one speaker to the other with every repetition, and after about 20 seconds of this, the song just abruptly stops.
- Devil Doll: The original avant garde band, not the rockabilly one. Creepy piano music set to the paranoid gibberings of a madman obsessing about something following him through an empty house, subliminal messages, and terrifying descriptions of the apocalypse, just to name a few of the themes the band deals with. And just to make it better, most of their songs go for about an hour or so. That Mr. Doctor sure is a deranged man.
- Electric Light Orchestra: "Fire On High," because of the backmasking "The music is reversible, but time is not. Turn back! Turn back! Turn back!" There's something about a recognizably-human voice producing noises that no human could ever make that's just creepy.
- Lawrence Gowan: "A Criminal Mind". The narrator is an unrepentant criminal who pretty much prides himself on what he's done, but he never actually says what he's done, leaving it for you to guess. The real horror is in lines like these:" I've spent my life behind these steel bars/I've served my debt in time, but being brought to justice/THAT was my only crime", "These prison walls secure me/and I'm numb to pain." Prison hasn't done anything to reform him—-it's made him even worse.
The gentle piano music at the beginning could qualify on its own; there's almost a Silence of the Lambs thing going with Gowan singing about "They tried to reform me/but I'm made of cold stone" while playing that really brings it home. In each chorus of the song, he tells the listener "Ask one who's known me/if I'm really so bad" followed by a menacing whisper of "I AM." Even worse, the final bit: "Some people struggle daily/They struggle with their consciensce 'til the end, I have no guilt to haunt me/I feel no wrong intent" As the song fades out, Gowan begins echoing the "Made of cold stone" line, and at one point, he literally screams "JUST LIKE YOUR PRISON WALLS!" After the first chorus, Gowan goes from singing softly to an almost harsh-sounding voice—-just listen to the earlier line starting with "I've spent my life behind these steel bars", and you can hear equal traces of hatred, pride and something else in his tone as he continues. There's something about the synth riff on this song (the one between the second chorus and the final verse) that's "haunting". Take that in whatever way you will. The synth-drums that kick in after the first chorus sound a bit like gavels. During the line "I'd like to say a few words/here in my own defense", there's this weird synth-like sound in the background.
One final note: This is the only track on Strange Animal that isn't a happy, pop-radio-sounding song; everything from "Cosmetics" to the title track (and even songs like "Desperate", "Keep the Tension On" and "Guerilla Soldier") is upbeat, catchy and very easy to sing along to...but "A Criminal Mind," the last track, will stick with you long after you've heard it.
- Kayo Dot:
- They feature some of the most obtuse lyrics of any band ever. Try the line "In the hallway outside my bedroom door, I heard the old dead sleigh gliding to its restful drones, purposely knocking the pictures off their nails. With a vacancy ogling my sober inhalation, our curator's rocking to the rhythm of the rain on her carved hair here in this room, with the inverted torches at its barrier, where materia vibrated out" for confusing and disturbing imagery.
- As for the musical aspects. Some of the songs on Choirs of the Eye could probably induce nightmares even if they didn't have any lyrics. The band's first two albums arguably contain some of the heaviest, most dissonant passages ever recorded.
- Magma, when they aren't a source of Narm can definitely be the soundtrack of your worst nightmare. "Műh," the last track of their debut album, tells the story of the Kobaians unleashing their most devastating weapon on the Earth, complete with horrific, agonized screams. And it's all sung in an invented language for added creepiness.
- The Mars Volta:
- "El Ciervo Vulnerado" takes the cake, along with "Eunuch Provocateur" which contains two instances of backmasking: First, a distorted voice singing Itsy-Bitsy Spider, and then the voice of a Creepy Child saying "Mommy or Daddy ever had to spank you?".
- Another terrifying case is "Cassandra Gemini Part VII" which, when listened to at full volume with headphones on in your bed with the lights off, detached from the rest of the song cycle, just makes you think that someone's coming up to you and is going to kill you as you lie there.
- Learning the story behind Deloused at the Comatorium makes the entire album nightmare fuel.
- Sigur Ros:
- They, perhaps unwittingly, have been a perpetrator of this. Listen to Vaka alone, at night, and try not get a serious case of the heeby-jeebies. Watch the music video for extra terror!
- Their first album, Von, is full of creepy ambient noises. Special mention goes to the intro track with its ghastly screaming sounds.
- Sleepytime Gorilla Museum:
- Particularly disturbing are "The Creature" in which someone licks his lips in the background for most of the song, and "Sleepytime (Spirit is a Bone)" in which the lead singer creakily sings "Sleepytime" repeatedly followed by a haunting interlude.
- Although nearly all of their songs are creepy to an extent, many on their album Of Natural History go far beyond the normal interpretation of terrifying. The use of atonality, harsh vocals, and custom instruments are quite effective in painting a picture of anti-humanism and violent horror. Not to mention the lyrics to songs such as this.
- Slint: Spiderland is a post-rock example, which includes "Don, Aman" (Don stepped outside.) and "Good Morning, Captain" (I MISS YOU!), two songs that can ruin any night's sleep. It's worth noting that the creation of this album apparently drove at least one of the band members to Creator Breakdowns to the point where he had to be institutionalized, and they had shown no signs of mental instability before making the album. The material here is dark enough that it's not difficult to see why.
- Univers Zero: The Heresie album qualifies as some of the creepiest music ever. After Heresie, their music got somewhat lighter in tone.
- Van Der Graaf Generator:
"HOW CAN I BE FREE? HOW CAN I GET HELP?AM I REALLY FREE, OR AM I SOMEONE ELSE??"
- Their 1971 album masterpiece, Pawn Hearts, is possibly their best example. These (shouted) lyrics from "Man-Erg" just about sum it up:
"Cogs tearing bones, cogs tearing bonesIron-throated monsters are forcing the screamsMind and machinery box-press the dreams."
- There's also these lovely lyrics from "Lemmings":
- Steven Wilson: "Only Child" certainly qualifies, with lyrics like "A raven holding to narrow wrist/Pull it tight/Clothes are torn and the body twists/A single light" "An only child/A winning smile/A killing trial." The song seems to be about a child who gets away with (brutally?) murdering a sibling.
- Some of The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories) qualifies as this, especially seeing as each song is a ghost story in musical form. One of these songs is "Holy Drinker", about a pious man who, in his arrogance, challenges the Devil to a drinking competition. He loses. And is sent straight to Hell. This song in particular has a creepy, unsettling feel to it, not to mention the Jump Scare near the end where a synth noise comes out of nowhere.
- Patrick Wolf: "The Childcatcher". Insanely creepy, and has a completely terrifying sound punctuating the song.
- Jeff Waynes Musical Versionof The Warofthe Worlds: This is not a record to listen to just before sleeping. Even the album cover and additional artwork inside is enough to frighten anyone and not even most Death Metal album covers are as horrifying as this.
- The bassline for "Horsell Common and the Heat Ray" is a recurring theme for the album and hardly makes a leave in the song. On top of that, the noises to portray the Tripods will make a stand against your ears.
- Listen to this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8bur7xRt_C0 ....Yes, that is a man's voice.
- At The Drive-In: Their songs are cryptic and not easily understood, but some qualify regardless of whether one understands the lyrics or not. "Enfilade" is a perfect example, especially with the chilling ransom call opening. "Invalid Litter Dept." is similarly haunting, especially since it's about a series of migrant worker murders in the band's hometown of El Paso, Texas.
- Big Black: Every single song by them.
- Danzig: The Misfits and Samhain, both fronted by Glen Danzig, often have quite disturbing lyrics.
- Die Ärzte: The uncensored version of their music video for Junge, in which several people are messily consumed by zombies. Eventually the band has to fight off the zombies with anything at hand - guitars, beer cans, crossbows - before a mass of zombies drag the lead singer down and then graphically eat his intestines.
- The Leather Nun: The Slow Death EP contains the heartwarming song "Slow Death", which intones over and over "90 percent burns, 55 hours to live" with some really horrific noise droning behind it. Considering that the live version of the song guest stars Genesis P-Orridge (of "Hamburger Lady" fame) and Monte Cazazza, its inclusion here fits perfectly.
- "Broken Witch". The most bone-scrapingly unnerving song since "Revolution 9." We are the army you see through the red haze of blood...blood...blood...blood...blood....
- "This Dirt Makes That Mud" from They Threw Us All In A Trench And Stuck A Monument On Top is even worse. It starts fairly disturbing, as all Liars songs do, but then it locks into a pattern, and all sounds fade out but this creepy riff and a steady, never changing drum beat. And it goes on. And on, and on, and on. You start to get annoyed. Then you filter it out and ignore it. Then you think you hear something that wasn't there before. For almost thirty minutes. The 30 minute version from the CD is just to give you a taste of the true horror the vinyl release, which ends in a locked groove, meaning it will continue to play forever, slowly erasing itself from existence. Or, you know, until you remember to turn it off.
- The Offspring: "Hammerhead." The video is even worse.
- Orchid: An extreme punk(-ish) band from circa 2000, played music that literally sounds like nightmares. Take a listen.
- Pere Ubu: "Sentimental Journey". Most of The Modern Dance is creepy, thanks to the mix of distorted punk, but this song in particular takes the cake. It's just a squeaky old synthesizer and plucked bassline, overdubbed with shattering glass, audio feedback, metallic banging and scraping, and David Thomas muttering and moaning some of the strangest lyrics ever. Listen at night, and you'll become convinced there's a drunken vandal outisde your door.
- The Ramones: "Teenage Lobotomy". First, there's the whole lobotomy thing, which may or may not have been caused by exposure to massive amounts of the pesticide DDT, or may have been used to control symptoms of the DDT poisoning. Then there's the implications that he's trapped in his own mind and that there's something frightening in there with him.
- Reel Big Fish: They usualy makes upbeat and fun Ska-Punk songs. Then there's "You're Gonna Die," a hidden track on ''We're Not Happy 'Til You're Not Happy." Loud distortions, screaming, backmasking, it's all there. Sweet dreams...
- Alias: "Slow Motion People". That distorted old song at the start is only the tip of the iceberg. "To looooove or not to love you. To feel agaaaain that thing called paaaaain".
- David Banner: "Play" might have an instrumental that's purely awesome, but his lyrics make the rapper look like a fucking serial rapist (whispering all of the lyrics, no less). Listen to the track, and you'll see how such depravity can be so terrifying.
- Danny Brown: A lot of songs on his album XXX qualify. "Die Like A Rockstar" has him referencing lots of famous musicians and actors who have died because of drug and alcohol abuse while he draws eerie comparisons to his own lifestyle; "Detroit 187" is about how incredibly messed up his hometown is; "Blunt After Blunt" has a beat made of horrible inhaling noises and an abnormally deep piano while he raps about horrific amounts of pot; "DNA" is a somber track about how his family uses lots of drugs, which spurs him to abuse them; "Party All The Time" is about a college student who drops out and ends up a serious drug addict who becomes a prostitute to fund her habit; and "Scrap Or Die" is about drug addicts living in poverty who strip abandoned schools and old buildings of materials to sell for more drugs. And every other song has references to these kinds of horrors. And this is a 19 track album. That lasts close to an hour. Add in that Danny Brown is just now breaking through at age 30, is missing his two front teeth, and makes very casual references to his actual drug abuse (flaunting ecstasy in interviews, mentioning that he spent time in prison for possession with intent to distribute, etc.) and XXX is basically a very disturbing autobiography. Believe it or not, the title of the album doesn't reference its graphic nature; it references that Brown is 30 years old.
- Old, while not quite as dark as XXX, still has plenty of incredibly bleak fare. "Torture", in particular, is one of the darkest songs that he has ever made, with lyrics describing what is likely post-traumatic stress disorder derived from all the horrible things that he saw while growing up; the song tells of things like a pimp forcing a prostitute who wouldn't pay up to put peanut butter on her vagina and then letting his dogs loose, a crackhead beating a fellow addict with a hammer, a man being ambushed and shot in the head in a phone booth, his uncle attempting to smoke a crack rock from a stove burner and very nearly burning his upper lip off (which Danny apparently witnessed when he was only seven years old), and Danny mentions having to go to bed baked off his ass just to be able to sleep without being haunted by flashbacks.
- CLOUDDEAD: The vast majority of their discography counts, but their first (self-titled) album is like a trainride through the mind of David Lynch.
- Cunninlynguists: "Falling Down" arguably descends into Narm around the second time a character has a Freak Out, but the very first one feels like something that could happen in real life. One man, stuck in traffic, having a bad day on a bad month in a bad year—and he happens to have a gun in the back of his car, and another driver has just pissed him off.
- DMX: "The Omen" featuring (believe it or not) Marilyn Manson, from the Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood album. It starts out with a woman sobbing over a dying man in a hospital, with the beep of a life support machine in the background. Then this deep ominous voice comes in: "Hmmm ďż˝ what's this?" The rest is constructed as a dialogue between a violent thug and a loathsome character who's urging him on to increasingly brutal acts. Both are voiced by DMX (Manson does the chorus), but latter is done in this pinched, weasel-y tone that's just so damn weird and unhinged.
- Immortal Technique: "Dance With the Devil." A song about a boy who grows up to become a drug dealer and criminal and ends with him unknowingly raping and killing his own mother. He subsequently kills himself.
- Insane Clown Posse: The album Hell's Pit.
- Lecrae: "Falling Down". The song itself is not creepy. What's terrifying is that at the beginning of the third verse you can hear someone in the background laughing maniacally.
- Mos Def: Almost unanimously known as conscious rapper, made "Murder Of A Teenage Life", a song detailing the death of child gunned down and dying in his mother's arm. Though the lyrical content could be possibly classified as a Tear Jerker, the beat, made by The Neptunes, who also produced Britney Spears' "Slave 4 U" mind you, is pure, unadulterated terror, complete with sampled blood-chortling screams and distorted hollow singing by Mos Def.
- Proof: "Kurt Kobain", a song about Proof reflecting on his life written in a suicide note. It takes a different approach at the end of the song when he inevitably shoots himself, mixed in with a disembodied but repetitive sound with him clearly whispering "Love...killed...me..." Even more haunting at the fact he was killed 8 months later.
- Swollen Members's "Bad Dreams". The beat itself is already incredibly creepy with those horror film-esque pianos and occasional thunderclaps, but the lyrics... Oh god, the lyrics. It ain't no horrorcore, but they're still extremely creepy, being a deconstruction of nightmares, together with jarring examples of adult fears. Possibly one of the scariest rap songs of all time.
Rock (Miscellaneous Types)
- AC/DC: "Night Prowler." Even without the "Helter Skelter"-ish notoriety associated with it, the song's pretty creepy in itself with Angus Young's ominous slide guitar and one of the most chilling vocal performances Bon Scott ever put to tape. Then you have the lyrics:
Too scared to turn the light out, cause there's something on your mind
Was that a noise outside the window? What's that shadow on the blind?
As you lie there naked, like a body in a tomb
Suspended animation, as I slip into your room!
- Alice in Chains: "Angry Chair". Hell, almost every song on their Dirt album falls under this or Tear Jerker.
- Alien Sex Fiend: Despite the title, "Black Rabbit" has nothing to do with Jefferson Airplane's "White Rabbit." It's much scarier. You got beautiful eyes...you got beautiful dark eyes.... Not that "White Rabbit" is a very lighthearted song itself. The rising beat in the melody and the drug imagery make it unsettling.
- A Perfect Circle:
- A supergroup with the same singer, Maynard James Keenan, as Tool. There's a few songs that stand out, the bulk of which come from the album Emotive.
- "Annihilation" starts off the album with a whisper throughout the entire song, with a creepy instrumental playing in the background.
- "Imagine" (yes, that "Imagine") immediately follows. The instrumental is nowhere near as happy as the original version.
- "Gimme Gimme Gimme" comes close to the line (if it doesn't barge clear across it), what with it sounding like the rantings of a crazed drug addict. The lyric saying he has problems that can't be solved "with an atom bomb" should illustrate it for those that are still capable of paying attention to the lyrics.
- "Counting Bodies Like Sheep to the Rhythm of the War Drums" will break anyone still sane after the rest of the album. 5 minutes 36 seconds of Nightmare Fuel-laden Mindscrew comparable to Tool's "L.A.M.C." (Los Angeles Municipal Court), only this time there's an actual rhythm. There's always the strange, moaning, only vaguely human voices in the background, the ragged breathing, the intermittent screaming and gasping, the singer's alternate crooning and shouting, the incessant, harsh beat throughout, and then - "GO TO SLEEP GO TO SLEEP GO TO SLEEP GO TO SLEEP." The subject matter isn't exactly Sweet Dreams Fuel either. And here's the music video.
- What's worse, this one in particular is a remake of one of their earlier songs, "Pet", which is just as Mind Screwy and disturbing.
- "Hao Lullaby". Pay NO attention to the title, it is NOT something you want to listen to before you go to bed.
- Bauhaus: As well as a few of Peter Murphy's solo songs, such as "Low Room", Bauhaus can creep the heck out of a fair few people. Those screechy, nails-on-a-chalk-board guitars and weird drums will get you every time, not to mention Murphy's vocals. The guy sounds like a crazed baptist preacher that constantly has spiders crawling through his shirt.
- Belfegore: The multinational '80s goth rock band's general ethos was that of trying for music that was at least a little menacing, but perhaps the epitome of their creepy musical output was their semi-instrumental (and self-referencing song) "Belfegore", off their 1985 album of the same name. Totally brings chills up and down your spine!
- The Black Angels
- For a Psychedelic/Stoner Rock band which usually have chilled/upbeat themes, their epic song "Snake In The Grass" is surprisingly terrifying at points. The random shrieking and reversing of parts of the song simply add to the already creepy droning in the song. Regardless, it's still a pretty cool song.
- Bloodrock: "D.O.A.", which describes a man dying from injuries from a plane crash while his girlfriend dies beside him—and that's just the single edit. In the complete album version, they both go to hell and get chased around by demons.
- Blue October:
- "The End" is rather freaky, from the descriptive lyrics to how Justin's voice gets more and more angry and frantic as the song goes on.
- "Dirt Room" is a lively song about executing revenge by burying someone alive "You started screaming through the duct tape. Don't ever think I'm letting you go."
- Boris: The entire album Flood. It starts off with what sounds like two guitars playing the same chords, but at different times. Eventually they become more and more synchronized. Then, while that's happening, you hear this loud sound, almost like the footsteps of a monster. The monster sounds grow louder and more frequent, like it's giving chase. It then occurs to you that the guitars almost sound like a man running away. And that's only the 1st song out of 4.
- Brand New: "Limousine." It describes the events in which a seven year old girl was killed in a drunk driving accident, and her mother still carrying her head upon arriving at the hospital. Could also serve as a Tear Jerker, especially with the "seven loves you" refrain.
- Kate Bush: "Under Ice" is gently sinister, and is followed immediately on the album by the frankly disturbing "Waking the Witch". Nice arrangement. It's also part of a song cycle ("The Ninth Wave") about a girl drowning in the ocean.
- From her previous, there's "Get Out Of My House," which was apparently inspired by The Shining. And to add insult to injury, it's the last track on the album.
- The Butthole Surfers:
- "Who Was In My Room Last Night?" Try listening to it without it invoking a very disturbing mental image of a man trapped in an underwater submarine pod which is slowly breaking and cracking, letting in more and more water with no escape. This, combined with the static and other noises at the end only serve to make this image even more terrifying, as it sounds like someone struggling for air over a radio.
- "I'm flying away!" *shudder*
- Some of their earlier works, like "22 Going On 23". Although one thing that lessens the horror somewhat is that the band claim the woman being sampled was most likely making the whole story up - she'd frequently be heard on the same call-in show telling different, completely contradictory accounts of abuse.
- And who could forget "Pepper"? The lyrics are about people dying/escaping a brush with death, after all.
- "Who Was In My Room Last Night?" Try listening to it without it invoking a very disturbing mental image of a man trapped in an underwater submarine pod which is slowly breaking and cracking, letting in more and more water with no escape. This, combined with the static and other noises at the end only serve to make this image even more terrifying, as it sounds like someone struggling for air over a radio.
- Biffy Clyro: Whatever the fuck that is at the end of Infinity Land hidden way behind "Pause It and Turn It Up" comes from hell.
- Elvis Costello: I Want You. An Obsession Song that starts off sounding fairly innocuous, if a little creepy, and then descends into full-blown Nightmare Fuel, with the suggestion that the guy in the song is stalking his ex, and someone is going to end up dead. Fittingly, one writer described Costello as sounding as though he were "on the end of a noose". Lines like "I'm afraid I won't know when to stop" and "You've had your fun, you don't get well no more" do not help.
- The final track of their debut album consists of a 13-minute recording of an "authentic" Satanic mass performed by the band. Even those who consider the idea of Satanism to be plain silly have found it terrifying and uncomfortable to listen to.
- Jinx Dawson's wordless singing at the end of "Coven In Charing Cross", also from Witchcraft Destroys Minds and Reaps Souls, is another. Doesn't help that the song is about a cult who kills an entire family.
- The Crazy World of Arthur Brown: The first side of their self-titled album. "Nightmare" is about a man having a bad trip and begging to be let into hell, "Time" is an eerie ballad than ends in a fit of madness (especially in the mono version), and the conclusion of "Fire" has Brown shouting "Burn!" over and over at the top of his lungs to the point of laughter.
- Creature Feature: "The Greatest Show Unearthed". Circus of Fear, background music that sounds like the most demonic merry-go-round ever imagined, and the random screaming. Plus, it's a totally awesome song. Freaky as fuck, but awesome.
- The Cure:
- The scream in "Subway Song". Try travelling alone at night listening to it.
- "Lullaby" is also really creepy, especially if you've got arachnophobia.
- "Pornography" is quite unsettling as well.
- Depeche Mode: They aren't typically known for creepy or otherwise sinister music, but the final track on their 1987 album Music for the Masses is this very sinister song called "Pimpf" that will scare the bejesus out of you if you listen to it in the middle of the night with very little light to illuminate the room you're in. Their 2009 album Sounds of the Universe has pretty grim-dark songs, too, most especially "Wrong".
- The Divine Comedy: "Sweden". A bizarre ode to Sweden, with a chorus of demonic voices that won't be used on Swedish holiday ads any time soon.
- The Eels: "Susan's House." Hearing the speaker calmly talk about the corpse of a teen boy being stripped and put in a body bag with somewhat-relaxing music played in the background...you know, it's just a tiny bit unsettling.
- Grizzly Bear: "I Live With You". Do not listen to this song late at night when you're home alone.
- Emily Haines and The Soft Skeleton: "Dr. Blind" by The music itself is extremely eerie.
- Heavens: "My knife wants to hide deep inside of you", and, later in the same song, "Want to take you aside, and softly whisper questions at you / As you slowly die, gripping at my shirt". Not the only example, either. About half of the album Patent Pending could classify as rock horror.
- Jimi Hendrix:
- "Machine Gun" and, to a lesser extent, his version of "The Star Spangled Banner". One of the few times he channels horror, and does it a tad too well.
- Similar to the The Beatles' "Run For You Life" from Rubber Soul, (see their Nightmare Fuel page for that one), Hendrix's version of "Hey Joe" from Are You Experienced, about a man telling his friend that he gunned down his wife and the man she was having an affair with. However, where other bands (e.g The Byrds, The Leaves, Love) usually played the song in a brisk, proto-punk style, Hendrix played it as a slow, ominous, blues number, making an already creepy tune even creepier.
- Jack Off Jill: "Witch Hunt" is terrifying to listen to late at night in the dark. It comes complete with creepy carnival music, crackling fire sound effects, a scary nursery rhyme type thing, a stream-of-consciousness speaking track and agonized screams along the lines of "OH MY GOD, I'M BURNING, HELP ME PLEASE, I'M BURNING!"... all overlaid on one another. For bonus points, the creepy carnival music? Cribbed from Silent Hill. There's also the speaking track, which includes such bizarre nightmare fuel as "with clouds that fall with poison, and they fall on my skin, making tiny holes..."
- The Killers have what can be construed as a song cycle about murder: "Leave The Bourbon On The Shelf", "Midnight Show", and "Jenny was a Friend of Mine". The last one mentioned would seem to be the killer's statements while being interrogated by the police. ("There ain't no motive for this crime, Jenny was a friend of mine," but "she couldn't scream while I held her close"...) When the band play the song live, frontman Brandon Flowers replaces the "held her close" line in the second chorus with "she couldn't scream while I held her throat.
- The Killers also have an unreleased song called "Where Is She?", from the point-of-view of a mother of a murdered girl to her murderer. Inspired by a real murder case in Scotland, which is why it was never properly recorded or released.
- "What Would You Have Me Do?" by Local H is filled with unsettling lyrics that imply murder (such as "Baby's out of town but I see the light on / What are you up to now / Heading for the gun I can see rock bottom" and "All right, we don't need nothing but cyanide / pulled out teeth, won't be identified / what would you have me do?") and ends with a series of guitar chords spaced further and further apart, followed by about ten minutes of vague steel drum music and street noises, then one final chord right when you're certain to be not paying attention. It's everything from creepy to startling.
- "The Horror of our Love". It's clear that he's a serial killer. It's not clear whether she's a victim, a vampire, or a corpse. "..the awful edges where you end and I begin."
- "Lake Pontchartrain". The creepy harmonies and dynamics are bad enough. The story of what happens is bad enough. Its appeal to someone's fear of large waves is bad enough. But those last few lines that imply that the whole story is totally made up as a cover for the fact that this guy murdered his two friends is just...agh.
- Ludus: A politically-minded, avant-garde band of the late '70s/early '80s, released an LP called Danger Came Smiling as a kind of culmination to their experiments in free improvisation and psychological self-analysis. At its most listenable, it's very odd; at its least, it is completely terrifying.
- Lush: "The Childcatcher" is about a child prostitute. Not the happiest of subjects.
- Mana: "El Muelle de San Blas". The song is about a woman who waits for her sailor fiancé and how she becomes old and irreversibly insane in the process. The insanity began with her wearing every day the same dress she wore when he left ("so he didn't get her wrong"), and is implied in the end that she died alone in the dock. The worst part is that the song is Based on a True Story, but very few people knew it until the woman died in 2012.
- Manic Street Preachers: With a few exceptions, their third album, The Holy Bible, is aural Nightmare Fuel. The chorus of "Archives Of Pain" is a list of serial killers, and begins with a sample from a relative of one of the Yorkshire Ripper's victims; "Mausoleum" describes a place where there are "no birds" and the sky is "swollen black", and contains a sample of JG Ballard saying, "I wanted to rub the human face in its own vomit and force it to look into the mirror"; "4st 7lb" graphically details a woman's body going into decline while suffering from anorexia; and the penultimate track, "The Intense Humming Of Evil" - about the Nazi death camps - is possibly the most terrifying thing the Manics have ever recorded. Even the cover, a Jenny Savile painting of a morbidly obese woman, is downright terrifying. It goes without saying that guitarist and songwriter Richey Edwards was in a very bad place at the time. He disappeared a year later and has not been seen since.
- The Mars Volta: Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, guitarist and leader, certainly touches this territory. On his first solo album A Manual Dexterity Soundtrack Volume 1, a song closer to the end titled "Of Blood Blue Blisters" usually causes most people a jump on the first listen.
- Meat Loaf: The title song on the album Bat out of Hell III: Monster is Loose has several things about it which make it nightmarish, including its madness and insanity inspired theme.
- Turned Up to Eleven with "In The Land Of The Pigs (The Butcher Is King)" on that album.
- The Megas: There isn't a whole lot that's scary about this video game cover band's Get Acoustic, except the album art◊. Please don't let the zombie robots eat me...
- Mew: This band hit this quite a bit. Their lead singer and lyricist, Jonas Bjerre, has commented that he's draws much inspiration from his nightmares, which are allegedly very frequent. Said nightmares are also placed squarely into their music videos and the background visuals in their live show - a common motif is of stiffly, stutteringly animated people with animal heads (either alive or skulls) playing instruments. They have an entire album devoted to fear. Although he's fluent, English isn't his first language despite singing in it, resulting in him crafting some particularly odd and unsettling imagery. The pinnacle of the fuel may not come from an album, but from a b-side - "Succubus".
- Modest Mouse: The Surreal Horror song "Wild Pack of Family Dogs" is both this and Lyrical Dissonance.
- The Mountain Goats: John Darnielle has a gift for light, delicate horror. For example, Marduk T-Shirt Men's Room Incident. Stay weightless, formless, blameless, nameless...
- Or "Ezekiel 7 And The Permanent Efficacy Of Grace," which is canonically about someone being tortured, possibly to death.
- The Move:
- They included "Disturbance" on their 1968 debut album.
- "Walk Upon The Water", also from their debut. It's a happy little tune, until you find out it's about a group of friends who got high and decided to take a swim in the ocean, only to get swept up and drown. If that wasn't creepy enough, it's implied that the group was totally unaware that they were drowning in their intoxicated state.
- Mr. Bungle:
- "Dead Goon," a ten minute long song about a boy accidentally killing himself while performing auto-erotic asphyxiation complete with noose creaking sounds and dying gurgles.
- "Violenza Domestica," a song about domestic abuse in Italian, it sounds like a song that would fit in a David Lynch joint.
- "The Bends," another ten minute song, this one about suffering the bends, it ends with a bunch of Batshit Insane sounds.
- The Last Note Nightmare of "Pink Cigarette", otherwise one of their calmer songs musically. Just when the song starts building up to a climax, the sound of a heart monitor can be heard slowly increasing in volume, and the last line of the song is very jarringly cut off by said heart monitor flat-lining. The song seems to be about a man committing suicide after finding his partner cheated on him, and the section that gets cut off by the flat-lining sound is a countdown of sorts: "There's just five hours left until you find me dead, There's just four hours left until you find me dead", etc.
- Murder By Death: The song "The Devil In Mexico". The devil-screeching (courtesy of Gerard Way) will get to you.
- My Chemical Romance:
- "Mama" is already a dark enough song about war and self-loathing, but go listen to it in the dark in the middle of a storm.
- Then there's their song Blood, which is a cheery little ragtime tune that's about the Patient (the main character of the album) undergoing constant blood tests (he's supposed to have something wrong with his heart, after all), and it seems like the tests will never stop. To some, it sounds almost like a song about mass murder.
- Okkervil River: "Westfall". "and when I killed her/it was so easy/that I wanted to kill her again".
- Joan Osborne: Turns out that "One of Us" really isn't all that typical of the work she does; plenty of her songs are spooky. Her song "Spider Web" opens with her saying "I dreamed about Ray Charles last night, and he could see just fine" in a soft, intimate voice. In the dream, she sings, at one point "Ray took his glasses off and I could look inside his head./Flashing like a thunderstorm, I saw a shining spider web."
- The Paper Chase:
- The fact that they name their songs things like "the kids will grow up to be assholes" and "This May Be The Last Song You Ever Hear" doesn't really help. Their lyrics aren't much better. And then you see them live.
- If it helps, lead singer John Congleton doesn't actually mean what he says - he started the band as an outlet for his frequent panic attacks, and is by all indication a pretty nice guy. There are those who love them and can even sleep through a lot of their noise-rock stuff... their ambient pieces, however? Fucking terrifying. Go to last.fm and listen to a sample of "I Tried So Hard To Be Good". Go on.
- Any of the ambient songs on "Now You Are One of Us". Anything from the ever-so-lovely titled "Delivered In A Firm Unyielding Way Lingering For Just A Bit Too Long To Communicate The Message 'I Own You'" to "We Will Make You One of Us" (which, by the way, utilizes that radio show clip in Tool's "Faaip De Oiad") is pants-shittingly disturbing, especially to those first introduced to the band.
- "I Did A Terrible Thing", a song about killing, has an extremely creepy-sounding ending in which it fades off to a distorted voice rattling off a list of directions. Random map made up by the band? Nope. Recorded phone call by murderer Larry Gene Bell, in which he was directing the family of his first victim to the body of his second. Holy shit.
- Pavement: "Hit the Plane Down". The first two lines? "I'm up on a hilltop where I/Keep you in sight my little toys," sung in a voice more deranged than you could imagine possible.
- Pearl Jam: "Hey Foxymophandlemama, That's Me" has vocals entirely consisting of sampled clips from mental patients talking about things such as their mental state and suicide. The instrumentals aren't any less creepy, starting mostly with long, dreary electric guitar chords and later developing an actual melody, albeit with the instruments mostly disconnected. This goes on for nearly eight minutes.
- Primus: Pork Soda could be nominated for this. It's a combination of the twangy, horror-movie basslines, the layers of guitar distortion, the cymbal timing, and the singer's campfire-story lyrics. Any song on this album, most especially "My Name Is Mud", will make you feel dreadful.
- Project 86: The song "Me Against Me" describes a nightmare in which the speaker is fighting someone, then strangles him, only to realize the enemy is identical to himself. He then wakes up dead, having literally strangled himself to death while dreaming.
- Poe: The unanswered phone call and resulting voicemail message that open the album Haunted "Exploration B"). The album has other instances that are more just'unsettling that outright scary, like the audio samples of Poe's late father Ted Danielewski talking about something or other.
- Procol Harum: "The Dead Man's Dream". It's about a Dying Dream which is also a nightmare, and includes this part:
The graves were disturbed, and the coffins wide open
And the corpses were rotten, yet each one was living
Their eyes were alive with maggots crawling
- Songs "Freaks" and "Aborigine". With regards to "Aborigine": the slow decay of a relationship into murder to the point where he sits and smokes a cigarette while watching his family burn in a car wreck is extremely unsettling.
- There's an equally Squickworthy line in "The Night That Minnie Timperline Died" (detailing the last night of a murdered girl). Out of nowhere Jarvis hits you with the lines: "And he only did what he did / 'cos you looked like one of his kids..."
- Lou Reed: "The Kids" from Berlin It's about the authorities taking the children from a woman who, we're told, really has no business raising children. For several verses, he goes into detail about everything that makes her an unfit mother - the drugs, the promiscuity, the violence, and by the time he's done, you're pretty much happy for the children to be leaving the "miserable, rotten slut." Then the instrumental bit comes in and is quite gentle, acoustic guitars and flute, along with two young children crying and screaming "MOMMY! MOMMY! MOOOOOOMMMMMYYYYYYY!!!" in absolute agony for several minutes. The unofficial story goes that producer Bob Ezrin locked his own kids in the studio, told them their mother was dead, and taped the results.
- Ezrin says he told them that it was time for bed.
- Another nightmare is Reed's album Metal Machine Music: imagine nothing but continous droning guitar feedback noise, spread over two LP sides.
- Sebadoh's "As The World Dies, The Eyes Of God Grow Bigger", which is a seven minute epic about being raised by a neglectful, drug addicted family, then vowing to go on a murdering spree. By the end of the song, there's multiple overdubs of Eric Gaffney screaming "BLOOD ON THE WALLS! BLOOD ON THE WALLS!". It's reported to be based on Gaffney's actual childhood.
- A lot of Eric's songs fit this trope quite nicely.
- The Smiths: "Meat is Murder." Morrisey, who is a hardcore vegetarian, sings about how killing innocent animals for food is really no different from killing other people. Throughout the song, there is a very creepy riff from Johnny Marr, and depressing piano. Also, at the beginning and ending of the song, the are the noises of what sound like power saws and screaming animals.
- Bruce Springsteen: "Nebraska". Sounds innocuous at first, until you realize it's a true story about Charles Starkweather, who went on a violent interstate murder spree for no other reason than "there's just a mean-ness in this world." Seriously disturbing. Double-creeps for the fact that the singer's girlfriend, who he wishes were sitting on his knee during his execution, was fourteen years old.
- "State Trooper", also from Nebraska, has a very eerie mood to it, due to a menacing, repetitive acoustic guitar riff and hushed, reverb-drenched vocals, and a couple of instances of unexpected screaming. The lyrics are much more vague, but it seems to be another song about a murderer: At very least there are hints that the narrator did something horrible, and that he's begging the state trooper not to pull him over not because he doesn't want to be caught, but because he doesn't want to have to kill him.
- Stabbing Westward: "Sleep". The creaky, clanking rhythm backing up the singer's mournful recitation of the lyrics is a little unsettling. It rapidly becomes apparent what the song is about - a little girl subjected to near-nightly rape by her father - and the song becomes outright disturbing. The sense of dread and desperation conveyed is nightmarish, and the chorus includes the raspily-whispered line, "Wishing one of them were dead/So this hell can finally end."
- The Strokes: Not a Nightmare Fuel-y band by any stretch of the imagination, but after the last note of their song "Slow Animals" fades out, listeners are treated to some eerie Studio Chatter of a few people that sound nothing like any members of the band whispering and laughing, almost as if the band recorded the song on an already-used tape. The voices may just be the band's managers, but it's definitely out of place.
- Sublime: The first two lines of "Wrong Way," which states that the prostitute the narrator spends the night with was fourteen. fucking. years. old.
- Tears For Fears. From The Hurting we have the dark, angry, "The Prisoner". Which sounds like it's screaming.
- Ten Years After: "As The Sun Still Burns Away". Creepy existentialist lyrics crossed with an repeating, ominous blues riff. The entire second half of the piece is gobbled up by washes of electronic howls and screams, ending with guitarist/vocalist Alvin Lee shrieking like a madman.
- Theory of a Deadman's single "Drown" is a song about, well, drowning as told from the perspective of the victim, as it is happening to him. Plus it is implied that he is not alone under the water. This is especially jarring in comparison to the party rock the band is famous for.
"Waves roll in and clean my sins, Now everything is clear, I'm having fun, under the sun, Wishing you were here."
- This Heat: An experimental post-punk band with strong progressive leanings and a penchant for using bizarre sounds and recording methods, usually to put across some kind of political point or just scare the crap out of their audience. Quite often, they succeeded on both points, as wonderfully demonstrated with the anti-war dirge "The Fall Of Saigon".
- The Used: "The Bird and the Worm" is pretty fucking creepy, Even without the even more terrifying music video to help it along. The vocals-only version is really unnerving.
- Ween: "Happy Colored Marbles" is often cited. But even that one is downright...well, happy when compared to "Spinal Meningitis (Got Me Down)", which takes place from the perspective of a small child suffering from the titular disease, undergoing a horrifically painful lumbar puncture. It's not the first one, either, and s/he's pleading with his/her mother to not let him/her die. If the distorted child-voice backed by the deep synth mimic doesn't get you, the agonized screaming over the guitar solo will.
- White Magic: The song "Poor Harold" sounds like a mix between a circus show and a panic attack. The iTunes review describes it as "an acid-damaged parlor song, written for the sitting area of a circus performer's trailer. It features vibraslap, a crinkly snare drum by Shaw, a nightmare piano, and melodica with whooping, off-the-rail singing and tempo changes that will make the listener dizzy."
- Wolf Parade: "Yulia." It's about a cosmanaut shot into space with no means of returning home.
"There's nothing out here nothing out here nothing out here nothing out here nothing outďż˝"
- There's a River in the Valley made of Melting Snow, by A Silver Mt. Zion, is a slow song with surreal lyrics and background music that wouldn't sound out of place in Silent Hill. The effect is at once oddly calming and deeply, profoundly unsettling.
- The Clockwork Quartet: The song "The Doctor's Wife." It combines an Apocalyptic Log, a Fate Worse Than Death, and a man who can't let go of his love. Appreciate the horror by listening to their song, which is free for download or streaming here.
- On his first album, The Devil's Bris, when he's not being funny he often gets seriously disturbing. The album opens with a song about a jealous ex-lover fantasizing about chopping his ex's new boyfriend into bits and mailing the bits across the globe.
- Another song is from the point of view of a paranoid schizophrenic who was molested as a child, having kidnapped a girl he intends to eventually murder.
- "That Man Upstairs" isn't that scary on its own, but the chorus of "Please kill that man upstairs" is an Ear Worm. This can be highly unnerving if you're trying to sleep and your bedroom is one floor down from that of your father, boyfriend, or some other man you care about.
- "When You're Evil". As awesome he is, the narrator sings about doing nasty and petty things purely For the Evulz. Near the end of the song seems like he feels bad at being evil...before immediatly claiming he was just lying and messing with you. The creepy violin in the background doesn't help.
- Bulgarian Folk Music: "Delio Haidutin" was used on the Voyager but is scary. Not really the instruments, which are simply odd and foreign, but that terrifying voice...
- Malicorne's rendition of the old murder ballad "Le petit écolier" manages to be effectively shocking.
- "Long Lankin", an old folk song. Especially the Steeleye Span recording of it. Martin Carthy's a capella recording is even more unsettling.
- There is an old Spanish ballad named "Penelope" that can be absolutely terrifying. It is about a beautiful young woman who, after her beloved left to war, froze in that moment, waited for him for years, and forgot that she and he would age accordingly. When he finally comes back, she's waiting at the train station, but denies that he is her fiance because he is much to old to be him.
- "Tsintskaro", a Georgian traditional choral piece sounds downright haunting. The lyrics are perfectly innocuous; a man meets a woman at a spring and says something that offends her, but the fact that the lyrics are so vague just adds another layer of creepiness.
- The children's lullaby "Rockabye Baby" has rather disturbing lyrics if you study them closely. I mean, a song about a baby in a cradle stuck up in a tree, crashing down? How is that supposed to make your child have a nice dream?
"Rock-a-bye baby, on the treetop,""When the wind blows, the cradle will rock,""When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall,""And down will come baby, cradle and all."
- "The Well Below the Valley" starts out with a passerby asking a young woman for water at the well, and turns into a tale of incest and infanticide.
- "Twa Corbies" is about two ravens ('Corbies' in Scots) discussing what to eat, and they decide on a 'new-slain knight', whose eyes they'll peck out and whose hair they'll build a nest with. No one will care, because only his hawk, his hound, and his wife know where he is, and they've all gone away with others.
- "Little Sir Hugh". Watch out for what happens if you lose a football in a neighbor's yard. This kid was cosseted and entertained by a "lady gay all dressed in green", until she butchers him and throws his body into a nearby well. This Child ballad was Ripped from the Headlines — it's the story of Little St. Hugh of Lincoln, who really was found dead in a well. As was often the case with unsolved child murders at that time, Jews were blamed in a practice known as blood libel.