Follow TV Tropes

This is based on opinion. Please don't list it on a work's trope example list.

Following

Nightmare Fuel / The Mars Volta

Go To

This Progressive Rock band from El Paso creates some absolutely terrifying songs.

  • The band have a lot of Last Note Nightmares. One of the most notable is the cacophonous ending of "Tourniquet Man". The song before then is pretty normal by their standards (seriously, up to that point it's a Surprisingly Gentle Song), being pretty slow but ominous, but it devolves into a cacophony almost worthy of Merzbow. The vocals become horribly distorted; the backing synths slow down and slur; the drumming grows erratic; and the saxophone keeps playing as though nothing is changing.
  • Advertisement:
  • "Ilyena"'s ending is another example. Again, most of the song is pretty normal by their standards, but after the first seeming ending, the instrumentation comes back in with a terribly distorted sample of Cedric, along with synths that devolve into noise that, again, is almost worthy of Merzbow, before it fades out properly.
  • A third Last Note Nightmare is from "Asilos Magdalena". Up to the ending, it was probably the gentlest song they'd done on their first three albums, featuring mostly just an acoustic guitar and Cedric's vocals. Then he starts repeatedly singing "Estrella de la mañana/Samael, te persigo a ti/Y si me quemo sin alas/Además me muero por ti" and the song starts distorting into severe cacophony.
    • It's worth noting that the lyrics are also creepy as hell: they translate roughly as "Star of the morning/Samael, I'm pursuing you/And if I burn without wings/At least I'll die for you." This seems to be a reference to several different mythologies. "Morning star" (i.e., the planet Venus) is one translation of the Latin word lucifer, which has been adopted in English as a word for Satan, particularly before the fall (the literal etymology for the word is "light bringing"). Samael is an important archangel in Talmudic and post-Talmudic lore who is variously an accuser, seducer, and destroyer. The "If I burn without wings" part seems to be a reference to Icarus, who flew too close to the sun and had his wings burnt off, fell into the sea, and drowned. It's probably one of the creepiest endings they've done.
  • The four-minute intro to "Frances the Mute" (song) might be the creepiest thing they've ever done. It consists solely of weird, metallic clanging with a Drone of Dread that gets louder as it goes on, ratcheting the tension up to nearly unbearable levels. It gets even creepier when you know the story behind the album, and realise what the clanging actually is; it's an SOS, and presumably intended to represent a cry for help from Frances following her rape. When the Epic Riff finally appears 4 and a half minutes in, it comes as a relief. Creepier still, this was originally intended to be the opening track.
  • The band are masters of Nothing Is Scarier. Some examples: The ambient midsection of "Cicatriz ESP", in which a listener might keep expecting some kind of Scare Chord, and the twice-used outro "Con safo" (appears at the end of both "Cygnus....Vismund Cygnus" and "Miranda That Ghost Just Isn't Holy Anymore", culminating in a Jump Scare in the latter), which establishes a very unsettling kind of tension. Most of the other ambient sections of Frances the Mute also qualify:
      Advertisement:
    • The dissonant ending of the album version of "The Widow". The body of the song is a Surprisingly Gentle Song/Power Ballad which, in its single edit, became their biggest hit. The album has about three extra minutes of dissonant organ work in which you constantly expect a Scare Chord. Again, there isn't one - it just fades into "L'Via L'Viaquez" - but that doesn't make it any less unsettling.
    • "L'Via L'Viaquez" as well. Cedric's voice becomes ever more distorted in the final section, losing every trace of melody as he sings some typical Word-Salad Horror lyrics (in particular mentioning an M18A1 Claymore anti-personnel landmine), with the accompaniment disappearing and fading into the coquí frogs of Puerto Rico.
    • The opening of "Miranda That Ghost Just Isn't Holy Anymore", "Vade mecum", features the aforementioned frogs alongside some steadily building ambience that comes across as though it was written by Brian Eno's evil twin. You again expect it to culminate in a Scare Chord, and while it once again doesn't, the body of the song is still pretty creepy, with Flea's trumpet arguably just making it even creepier.
    • While both versions of "Con safo" are terrifying, the second one takes the cake - the first one had vocals, while the second doesn't - it's just quietly furious, perhaps reflecting the mute nature of the Title Character. And of course it provides a case of a tension-building section on the album that finally ends in a Scare Chord.
  • "Eunuch Provocateur" features backmasked vocals from a children's record the band used to play, distorted and played at rapidly changing speeds. One segment features a sample from "The Itsy-Bitsy Spider" and another features a sample saying "Did mommy or daddy ever have to spank you?"
  • Another Nothing Is Scarier example: the opening of "Cut That City", which features some languid but creepy as hell drums for about a minute and a half before the actual body of the song starts. The body of the song is incredibly frantic and starts more or less out of nowhere.
  • "El ciervo vulnerado". Every note of it. The whole song is creepy as hell and establishes an unbearable tension as though there's going to be Scare Chord any minute. There never is, but the end features a backmasked vocal sample from earlier in the song, along with a second sample slowed to half-speed. Alongside these, the music gradually builds in intensity to a sharp climax, then suddenly cuts off. That's the end of the album. Probably not too many works manage to combine Nothing Is Scarier and Last Note Nightmare.
  • The backstory behind The Bedlam in Goliath is terrifying when you hear about it: Omar bought a Ouija board during a stop at Jerusalem as a gift to Cedric, which they (and later on the band) called 'The Soothsayer' and became a post-show ritual. While it was all innocent enough with it just telling the band creepy stories, saying names (which appear on the album at that...) or making demands, but then supernatural events occurred to the band: Drummer Blake Flemming left mid-tour due to money issues, Cedric had to learn how to re-walk after surgery on his feet due to the shoes he wore, audio tracks the band recorded vanished, Omar's studio became flooded and suffered multiple outages and their sound engineer quit due to a nervous breakdown (complete with his past work being gone) and even told Omar "I'm not going to help you make this record. You're trying to do something very bad with this record, you're trying to make me crazy and you're trying to make people crazy." Apparently the amount of bad luck and creepy events lead Omar to almost starting from scratch on Bedlam (but fortunately was helped by the new engineer and the band itself) that he broke The Soothsayer in pieces and buried them in an unknown location and has never given where he buried the pieces. Even if you take the story as just a story, the complete reality context comes off as chilling.
    • The lyrics/names from the album don't help either, considering that they're from the Soothsayer itself, apparently being attached to it and being based on multiple stories such as a love triangle between a woman, her kid, and a Muslim man and also about the honor of killing those involved. The stories/names were so cursed that Cedric had to put Afro-Caribbean religious tradition santerías as a way to protect the band itself.
    • Wanna feel more creepy fuel? It's been pointed out the album was a way of trapping the listener to reverse the Soothsayer's effects on the band. Try listening to the album again after that!
      • Makes it terrifying if you own a vinyl copy of The Bedlam in Goliath: The gatefold IS the Soothsayer!
Top

Example of:

/
/

Feedback