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Nightmare Fuel / Blue Öyster Cult

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“I like spooky stuff. I was very much into the horror genre.”
Buck Dharma, referring to "(Don't Fear) The Reaper".

Blue Öyster Cult is well-known for incorporating science fiction and occultist themes into their lyrical content. It should come as no surprise that many of their songs are horrifying.

  • "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" is a commonly used shorthand for establishing an ominous feel in horror movies and TV shows (in addition to being a stoner anthem, but that's a whole other trope). It influenced novelist Stephen King to write his famous apocalyptic 1978 novel, The Stand. Why does it have this effect on so many people? Because it's damn unsettling, that's why. The music sounds eerily serene, almost like it could have been written by The Byrds - but it's about the inevitability of death and the transcendence of love. The eponymous "Reaper" features prominently.
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  • "Joan Crawford" depicts a New York City in rioting chaos, as Joan Crawford's zombified corpse claws its way out of the Earth to get its final revenge against Christina.
    "Christiinaaaaaaaaaaaa... Mother's hommmmmeeeee!"
  • "Mistress of the Salmon Salt (Quicklime Girl)" seems to have one of the oddest titles ever, and it actually sounds sort of upbeat... until you realize that it's about a New Orleans hoodoo queen who uses quicklime to dispose of the corpses of her rivals.
  • "Harvest Moon" seems rather tame, until the ending reveals that a mysterious entity, referred to only as "some evil", comes every harvest moon to disappear the townspeople of a village.
  • "Workshop of the Telescopes" is the penultimate track from the band's self-titled debut album, and it's so cryptic as to evade basic comprehension. What it does do well is create a very eerie atmosphere, described perfectly by late band manager and frequent lyricist Sandy Pearlman:
    "It's really what I call a gothic technology song . . . It has kind of a Frankenstein's laboratory, techno-gothic take on how things would be transformed, and what the transformative mechanism would be."
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  • "Unknown Tongue", the final track from Cultösaurus Erectus, is about a young girl who partakes in ritualistic self-cutting for what seems to be religious reasons ("a crucifix above her head"). Two things make it especially unnerving: the fact that she tastes the blood, and the fact that it ends with her going to school the next morning like an ordinary schoolgirl, as if to juxtapose her banal everyday life with the disturbed behavior she exhibits at night.

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