Four Songs About Murder
Welcome back to my domain dear children, in this article I will be showing you how the sound of fear can be portrayed within musical pieces. The musicians and producers involved in recording these songs have created the perfect mood for one of the greatest mortal sins of our Earth – Murder! (that was used for dramatic effect only, not to open a discussion about theology!).
We will begin in the depths of metal, where a lot of lyrical themes revolve around death, depravity and murderous intent. We will then reach up to the higher echelons of prog rock, and finally steer down towards something a touch more mainstream – hip hop.
First off, I want to talk about Dead Skin Mask by thrash metal legends Slayer. Recorded for their masterpiece Seasons In The Abyss, this song has always stood out to me as something…more than other songs on the album. Even close to the beginning the mood is set with minimal, thunderous drums and the same monotonous riff playing over and over again. Then a voice echoes out from the darkness promising not to keep you long, but to keep you forever. Afterwards the song explodes in a way that only Slayer could allow it – with unrivalled violence and intensity.
Something I may have failed to mention about this song – lyrically it is the internal monologue of famed killer and body snatcher Ed Gein, basis for Leatherface, Norman Bates, Buffalo Bill and finally Bloody Face from American Horror Story: Asylum 1 (though I’d be certain in saying there are others he has inspired).
The true horror in this track comes towards the end of the song where we hear a little girl lost in Gein’s house, terrified for her life. This carries on until we hear her let out a blood curdling scream as the song ends.
4:13 is where we hear the girl searching for Ed, sounding more and more distressed as she cries out for help, and her scream comes at 4:43, then nothing…as if she had no breath left in her lungs to scream any more (yeah, she totally dead).
Check out the video below and have a listen, tis frightening stuff!
Next in the house of horrors, you will see on your right hand side another metal song – Knife Prty. A more mature version of Deftones appeared on their album White Pony, this song being one of the highlights for me.
The song begins in their strange flow of alternative metal – going from incredibly heavy to very soft and mellow in the same breath. However, at approx. 2:52 into the track a beautiful female vocal appears, not unlike the vocal in Great Gig In The Sky by Pink Floyd. However the vocal starts to twist at 3:24 with a guitar slide, shifting to create a much darker tone. By 3:40 the vocal becomes more of a scream, completing the tonal shift of the song down into the primal fear of torture and death (read: Knife Prty – kinda a hint as to what the song might be about!).
Again, this is an example of where more than just lyrics or instrumets influence the mood of the song to create the horrific environ.
So, now that we are half way through the house of horrors ride for today, treat yourself to some snacks and enjoy a picture of this cute kitten that I promise I didn't scare over and over again.
Stoopid cutesy kitteh.
Next, if you look on the left I will show you Finally Free by Prog Rock / Metal band Dream Theater.
Finally Free is the final track from their concept album Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes From A Memory, voted as #1 in the Rolling Stone poll “"Your Favorite Prog Rock Albums of All Time" 2.
The song begins with the protagonist of the story prematurely waking in a hypnotherapy session, before being able to discover exactly how events unfolded several decades earlier (which form the basis of the story within the album). The mood of the music then takes a darker turn, to build suspense as the killer speaks about what he had done to his victims. The music then lifts as one of the victims explains how excited she is to be meeting her estranged husband. The mood pulls down once again as the scene in which their lives are extinguished is acted out - with remarkable effect. We hear the killer shoot one of the victims, and before shooting the other victim he growls “open your eyes Victoria” before shooting her twice. Afterwards, the couple crawl together as the husband sings lines from One Last Time, a song earlier in the album.
With all of the twists and turns of the song, that one spoken line – “open your eyes Victoria” stains the track in blood.
Listen for yourself – the scene is played at approx. 4 minutes into the song
Lastly in the house of horrors, just before we reach the exit, I would like to direct your attention to our most mainstream entry – Kim by rapper / hip hopper / lyrical genius Eminem.
Track 16 on his second album The Marshall Mathers LP, this song tells of how he would murder his ex wife (guess what her name is!)
The back and forth between Eminem and Kim (also played by Eminem 3) is amazing in this song, and it truly paints a picture of horror and suffering that would be nigh impossible to watch if it was on the screen in front of us. The entire song plays out as a theatrical piece, as he soothes his baby to sleep at night before his behaviour twists towards her. He then throws Kim into the trunk of his car before driving out to the woods and applying some manual asphyxiation on her, and not in the good kinky kinda way.
The sheer horror in this track is staggering, from his maniacal rants directed at her early in the track to him screaming “bleed bitch, bleed” repeatedly over the sounds of her choking. Funnily enough, this is exactly what he wanted to do – create a horror story in a song 4
Now that we have left the house of horrors for today, I hope to have enlightened all of you in the different ways people can showcase horror within different styles of music
Keep listening for the footsteps in the dark my friends, until next time