Each 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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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 Yamaoka Eye making the most terrifying noises he possibly can with his mouth.
Bela Bartok: Bartok 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...
Certain parts of Symphonie fantastique, particularly the last two movements. Especially if you know what they're about.note Respectively, a condemned man being marched to the scaffold, and a witches' dance.
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? Hector 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.
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: "Pièce pour flute seule" sounds so mysterious that it actually becomes frightening.
"The 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.
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 acouple of links.
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.
"Carnival Of The Animals", particularly "The Chickens", "The Kangaroo", "The Aquarium", "The Donkey" (eerily described as "People with Long Ears") and "The Cuckoo".
"The Aquarium" was even used in Disney's "Beauty & The Beast", when Belle first enters The Beasts' castle.
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.
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's "String Quartet, No. 8".
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.
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: The third movement of the Nutcracker Suite, better known as the "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" starts rather creepy.
"Pas de Caractère: 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.
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 another track on that same album is called "Nightmare Fuel"?
Correction: "Nightmare Fuel" and "Elsewhere" are not on the same album. "Nightmare Fuel" is a bonus track on "View-Monster", which was released around 5 years after "Clown Circus", the album "Elsewhere" is on, was released (which explains why you get the "evil clown" vibe).
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".
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 backed with Hell Is That Noise.
"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.
Aphex Twin: To the point he gave the image to this page.
IIIIIIII WAAAANNNT YOUR SOOOOOOOUUUULLLL... IIIIII WILL EAT YOOOUUR SOOOOOOOUUUULLLL... (repeat ad nauseam)
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.
"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."
Can: Their epic improvisation "Yoo Doo Right" is very unsettling, with wailing, croaky, almost proto-screamo vocals that sound like a man weeping about his girlfriend over the top of tribal drums and strings, pounding menacingly and apocalyptically. Knowing that Malcolm Mooney, the vocalist heard wailing the vocals, suffered a mental breakdown shortly thereafter doesn't help much.
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."
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.
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.
"Humanity (World War Three)" is pretty damned creepy, as is the song "Mortal", whose only dialogue consists of rather disturbing clips of post-apocalypse from some movie, possibly Through the Eyes of Madness.
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 He wanted an excuse to work under his real name. 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.
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.
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.
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 (theseareallthesameguy) and almost uniformly disturbing.
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 1, 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.
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.
Serge Blenner: "Magazin Frivole". While this obscure track even sounds good from 1981, it constantly cycles a reminding piece of Nightmare Fuel, horror, and a Brown Note. It gets irritating to listen even in different pitches.
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. He has a few disturbing tracks - this one, for instance. Even the ones that are just calm melodies are spine-chillingly haunting.
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 garden
for bullets' bulbs to bloom
Right 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.
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.
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.
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:
They nearly exclusively sing about death and cults and Nazis and the Holocaust and are Nightmare Fuel when they're not just depressing. They did a cover of songs by Jim Jones. Yes, that Jim Jones.
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.
"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.
Steeleye Span must be trying to turn this into a cottage industry. Listen to their song "Lord Randall", an adaptation of an old Anglo-Scottish ballad about a young lord who returns home after a visit "in the wild wood" with his lover. His mother asks him a series of questions about where he's gone and what he did. As he answers, he repeatedly states that he's "sick, weary and tired" and "I want to lie down". As his mother continues her line of questions, they get oddly specific. She starts off with "where have you been" and, when told that his lover fed Randall some supper, asks "what did you eat?" Then it becomes "What got your leavings?" "My hawks and my greyhounds." "What did they do then?" "They laid down and died." "I fear you are poisoned!" "Make my bed soon." "Where should I make it?" "Down in the church yard..." If the implication that his mother may have known this was going to happen wasn't creepy enough (she keeps her same demeanor throughout the song), add that to the fact that the song starts off warm and jaunty, and gradually the tone of the song gets more ominous, with the background vocalists singing in deep, scary voices, while the mother's tone never changes. It's sure to bring a shudder.
Vienna Teng: "Radio" deserves particular mention for its liberal use of Adult Fear (terrorist attacks), but "Passage", "Pontchartrain", and "Watershed" deserve mention as well.
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 thatshould not be done tothe 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."
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.
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.
"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.
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
While Travis Ryan is a very mellow, down-to-earth person offstage, he is this trope onstage. Uncanny Valley is his specialty.
"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.
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 Palacein reverse. Christians probably shouldn't click on the link.
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.
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 torture...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.
Dir En Grey. Anything at all by Dir En Grey. Much of their material is highly disturbing by default, with creepy sonic atmospheres, savage riffs and Kyo's screeching Harsh Vocals. Their entire discography is littered with really crazy, spine-chilling material that would unnerve listeners, and their lyrics deal with disturbing topics such as violence, death, crime, rape, and other stuff that would make your skin crawl. Better grab that Brain Bleach.
Go on, go look up translated lyrics for "Obscure", "Mazohyst of Decadence", "Raison D'etre", or "Agitated Screams of Maggots". We dare you.
And, just for kicks, "Agitated Screams of Maggots - Acoustic." It doesn't even need a music video to be extremely creepy.
"Kyoukotsu no Nari", the infamous noise metal intro to Dum Spiro Spero. Despite its short length, it goes all the way to level 11, the maximum level attainable, in the Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness due to its crazy, terrifying sonic atmosphere. It's not something you would try to listen to in the middle of the night, alone, in a dark room, unless you want to scare yourself to death.
"Ain't Afraid to Die" sounds like a surprisingly gentle song, that is, until the last few moments of the song, when Kyo sings in a soft voice before suddenly stopping halfway through the last verse, implying that he died before finishing the song. The suddenness may startle some listeners
Kyo screams the words "Bloody Baby Sacrifice" in English a number of times, on their song "Obscure"
Disgorge: For reasons unknown, the 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.
I'll cleanse her sins, for witchcraft I condemn her
My implements of torture are bloody red
Your confession to sorcery will leave you dead
I'll pierce her flesh to find his mark
Torture, 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.
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.
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 On Earth As It Is In Hell, the Black Plaguenote Plague And Fyre, insanitynote The Oppressors, dark Shakespearenote Macbeth and imprisonmentnote No Matyrs Cage. 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.
"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.
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 Åkerfeldt'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".
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 me
You'll always be right here
You've become a part of me
You'll always be my fear
I can't separate
Myself from what I've done
Giving up a part of me
I'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 that can best be described as sounding like a pedophile reading deranged poetry to his drugged-up victim.
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.
"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.
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.
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.
Thrown back at me
Laughing at me
Ozzy Osbourne utilizes this trope to the extreme in "Let Me Hear You Scream".
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 sheercreepiness. 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 place
Framed snapshots of buzzing stillness
Noisy poloroid faces
With tick, tack, clock, with tick, tack, clock voices
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.
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 feautured 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. Dear Celestia.
"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.
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 1349 was the year the Black Plague spread to Scandinavia. It came on a ship where the entire crew was dead and the hull was filled with rats, 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.
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.
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.
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?"
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
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.
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.
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...
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 you
Timothy, Timothy, God what did we do?
...My stomach was full as it could be
And 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..."
"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 now it's time to go to bed
I'm still awake inside my bed
I'm floating up above the house and looking down
I guess I gotta go back there
I guess there never was any other answer
And as the freeway hums, the cars go by
The headlights roll across the sky
Many miles away and I can see them speeding through the dark...
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.
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... Her decay... 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.
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..."
They Might Be Giants: "Stomp Box" is a fairly dark song, from lyrics like "Little stomp box tear it from my heart" to John & John screaming "KILL KILL KILL KILL KILL ME NOW..."
"Rabid Child" from their first album is quite haunting. It starts off with a distorted and warbling voice that says "Lord, please don't take me away..." It also has a music video, which except for one clip, has NEVER been released to the public.
The Dial-A-Song demo of "Four Of Two", especially if you've heard the more child-friendly version from No! first. The basic concept is the same in both, a man being stood up for a date and never realizing it due to the clock being stuck. The No! version ends with him falling asleep in front of the clock, waking up in the distant future, and still being convinced she'll turn up (which may have some Fridge Horror of it's own, but is played for humor). The Dial-A-Song one, however, has the narrator eventually strangle himself in exasperation:
At four of two I successfully expired
And my breathing ceased and my heart no longer beat
My eyes stayed open lifelessly
They continued to stare at the clock on the wall
They continued to stare at the clock on the wall
And it still said four of two
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.
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:
I'm the harvester of eyes
I'm just walkin' down the street
I see a garbage can, I pick it up
I look through all the garbage
To see if there are any eyes inside
I'll put 'em in my pink leather bag
And take all their eye balls
And I bleed with 'em
As I plead with their eyes all night
So if you see me walkin' down the street
You'd better get out of the way
And put on your eye glasses
'cause I'm gonna take your eyes home with me...
Joan Crawford. Mother's home, indeed!
Comus: First Utterance. The music often sounds verymalevolent for being largely acoustic and folk-influenced. The lyrics of two different songsdeal with murder and rape, 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.
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.
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.
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. "Mûh," 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.
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.
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 Amon" (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.
Their 1971 album masterpiece, Pawn Hearts, is possibly their best example. These (shouted) lyrics from "Man-Erg" just about sum it up:
"HOW CAN I BE FREE? HOW CAN I GET HELP?
AM I REALLY FREE, OR AM I SOMEONE ELSE??"
There's also these lovely lyrics from "Lemmings":
"Cogs tearing bones, cogs tearing bones
Iron-throated monsters are forcing the screams
Mind and machinery box-press the dreams."
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.
Patrick Wolf: "The Childcatcher". Insanely creepy, and has a completely terrifying sound punctuating the song.
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.
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.
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.
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 and Hell Is That Noise, 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.
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 – what's this?" The rest is constructed as a dialogue between a violent thug and a Complete Monster 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.
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 lifewritten 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.
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!
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!
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.
"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.
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.
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Similar to the The Beatles' "Run For You Life", (see their Nightmare Fuel page for that one), Hendrix's version of "Hey Joe", 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 "the clouds are full of 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.
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".
"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.
"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.
"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 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.
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 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.
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." 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.
The Rolling Stones: "Gimme Shelter," particularly Merry Clayton's screams of 'rape' and 'murder'.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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".
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."
"There's nothing out here nothing out here nothing out here nothing out here nothing out—"
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?