Welcome to the Musicalypse 2018 Award nominations! Some bands have mastered the art of a haunting song. There are some artists that you even come to expect it from. A chilling song could mean many things, but usually we take it to mean something emotionally heavy, or that invokes a lot of mysterious feelings. Here are the picks for 2018.
Listen along to our full nominations list on Spotify here:
1. Ayreon Universe – “Valley of the Queens”
2. Arion – “Life is Not Beautiful”
3. Fear of Domination – “Ruin”
While this track is not even one of my favorite songs from Ayreon Universe (a rather unpopular opinion, it seems), it cannot be denied that “Valley of the Queens” is a truly haunting song. It tells the tale of an Egyptian becoming overwhelmed by her emotions and laying down to die, during a quest beyond time and space. Anneke van Giersbergen’s original vocals are redone in full live force, harmonized with two other queens of heavy metal, Floor Jansen and Marcella Bovio. If this isn’t one of the most chilling songs you’ve ever heard, I am baffled.
I was rather startled by Arion‘s song, “Life is Not Beautiful” – the song itself is beautiful in spite of its name, and has incredible power, packed full of emotion and loss, seeming like it acts as an outlet for a lot of feelings. It gets me every time.
Lastly, you should be able to tell already by the first notes of Fear of Domination‘s “Ruin” why I included it in here. Saku Solin’s deep vocals, the lurking guitars, and simple echoing drum beats all create an incredibly atmosphere. When it picks up and Sara Strömmer’s voice gently lets out, “Cold is your bare skin under my hand,” I just get chills up my spine. The song builds up incredibly and was also something pretty different for the band. Respect.
1. Riverside – “Lament”
2. Lunatic Soul – “Shadows”
3. Nine Inch Nails – “Over and Out”
‘Haunting’ is a word that appropriately describes a lot of Mariusz Duda’s [Riverside, Lunatic Soul] work, so it’s fitting that he’s present with a double dose of songs in my list. “Lament” – especially in conjunction with its video – nails the post-apocalyptic feeling of loneliness that Wasteland aims at capturing, while “Shadows” is simply a dark and slightly creepy instrumental with a strong atmosphere.
Trent Reznor is another man skilled at creating dark soundscapes, and “Over and Out” with its foreboding mantra “time is running out” closes NIN‘s Bad Witch on a somber note.
1. Shining – “Svart Ostoppbar Eld”
2. Deafheaven – “Canary Yellow”
3. A Forest of Stars – “Decomposing Deity Dance Hall”
For those of you not yet familiar with Shining (the Swedish one), they’re basically Mayhem with more suicide. It’s an exercise in wallowing in pure self-destruction. Even their more mainstream riffs, such as the main riff in the first third of “Svart Ostoppbar Eld”, feel purely sarcastic. It has plenty of hazy, somber moments that make you want to sway and think bad thoughts.
The California-based post-black metal group, Deafheaven, made the list with their bizarre “Canary Yellow.” Once you put it on, it sounds bittersweet and beautiful, in the vein of The Cure. Then it takes a turn towards a more straight-forward black metal. Then just as you had forgotten how cute the intro was, it turns into another subdued section, and finally ending on a haunting groove. The song appears upbeat on the surface but there’s an underlying ghastliness that ends up coating it all in pure, dark misery.
A Forest of Stars has some of the most tortured vocals around. It’s one thing to scream and growl like no tomorrow, but another entirely to sound as distraught as the aptly named Mister Curse. The new album, Grave Mounds and Grave Mistakes, is filled to the brim with bad vibes. Any one of these songs would have been chilling enough so I simply picked the best song: “Decomposing Deity Dance Hall.” Often called psychedelic black metal, this track has an ominous feel, further emphasized by strings and ghostly synth sounds.
Honorable mentions: Zeal and Ardor – “Stranger Fruit”, Tribulation – “Purgatorio”
1. Arion – “Last One Falls”
2. Myrkur – “Juniper”
3. Fear of Domination – “Ruin”
I mentioned Arion‘s “Last One Falls” with the best ballads of 2018, but the song is also just hauntingly beautiful.
I discovered Myrkur only while seeing her during Amorphis’ show. Any of her songs can enchant me, but this is the only one released in 2018, and truthfully it’s giving me shivers.
Fear of Domination‘s “Ruin” was definitely the song that convinced me on their 2018 release, Metanoia – the song is much more experimental, darker, and less of a party song than the rest of the album. A beautiful song that blends the voices of Saku Solin and Sara Strömmer in a magical way.