- "Sorrow About to Fall" is a notorious example of this. The music is haunting to say the least, and the lyrics are no different. Basically, it tells about the aftermath of a city which has incurred some form of apocalyptic event and that there's a 'sorrow about to fall'. It isn't made clear to the listener what happened to the city or its inhabitants, but one such interpretation is that the city was completely obliterated and the result was few to no survivors. If anything, it's a stark contrast to what ELO were known for in the past.There's a silence in the city
There's nobody around
And everyone that we knew
Moved to higher ground
- There's a particularly notorious example at the end of "Mr. Blue Sky", when you can hear Richard Tandy say "Please turn me over!" in a rather haunting vocoded voice.
- The introduction to "Fire On High" sounds like a satanic composition, until you get to the 1:29 mark. And then there's the backmasking. "The music is reversible, but time is not. Turn back! Turn back! Turn back!" There's something about a recognizably-human voice producing noises that no human could ever make that's just creepy.
- You also have the relatively dark looking album cover for "Afterglow", which you can see here.◊
- Pretty much every song in the album "Balance of Power" has haunting and evocative lyrics set to happy, mostly synthesized, backing music. And to say the least, those sort of songs were not what ELO were known for before.
- A number of the tracks on the group's 1981 concept album Time fall into this category, largely due to both the general melancholic motif of loss transcending each of its songs and the lo-fi vocoders and early '80's digital vocal effects employed on multiple occasions:
- From the End of the World is possibly the album's most major foray into nightmarish territory, owing to its distorted-sounding melody, high-pitched vocals and eerie synthesizer instrumentation. However, its darker tone is justified in that it implicitly describes the singer being brainwashed to believe his own lover in the past has abandoned him.
- The combination of low Geiger-esque notes and faint, haunting choir rendition of "Rain, Rain, Go Away" in the opening of Rain is Falling easily qualifies, although the remainder of the track is noticeably more downtrodden and ponderous than genuinely creepy.
- Extending the scope into the album's unreleased songs, When Time Stood Still is the clearest example of this among them, particularly the stark, slow-hitting rhythm and the breathy, distant quality of the vocals describing the barren "halls" of space-time.
- Most of the bands early work falls into this category, with the slick production and poppy sound pared back with rough grinding cellos and heavier, more progressive arrangements. Most notably is their debut which barely resembles what they would sound like a few years later. The albums most unsettling moments include:
- The chugging and abrasive 10538 Overture, which features cryptic, nigh apocalyptic lyrics, an army of chainsaw like cellos and Jeffs vaguely distorted echoey voice, all making up a 5 minute horror film which wound up being the bands first singlenote
- Look At Me Now, the first song on the album to feature Roy Wood is a shrill and frightening little number full of lyrics about paranoia and disassociation
- Nellie Takes Her Bow starts off as a Beatleseque pop song before abruptly morphing into a lengthy string interlude kicked off by a odd drum roll with sharp, dramatic strings and bellowing horns before transitioning back into the songs main theme, albeit now with darker, more cryptic lyrics
- Manhattan Rumble (49th Street Massacre) is a doom laden instrumental, which despite lacking lyrics (though going by the title this may have been a good thing) manages to be one of the most unsettlingly and abrasive songs on the album, with Roy Wood briefly singing an incomprehensible nursery rhyme before a wall of strings and thudding percussion takes over the track. It sounds more like an imperial march than anything else
- ELO 2 is no slouch either with the two chaotic and noisy boogie tracks and the 12 minute anti war song Kuiama, which combines moments of calm and dramatic strings with surprisingly graphic lyrics and a healthy heaping of tear jerker
Nightmare Fuel / Electric Light Orchestra