What’s the scariest piece of music ever written?
‘Black Sabbath’ by Black Sabbath
As tradition has it, “Black Sabbath” was inspired by an alien experience Geezer Butler had while playing with Earth. Butler was enamored of the occult at the time, painting his apartment black and decorating the walls with inverted crucifixes and images of Satan.
Ozzy Osbourne gave Butler a black occult book, written in Latin and embellished with images of Satan. Butler claims that one night, after reading the book, he placed it on his bedside table before falling asleep. Upon awakening, he claims to have seen a black figure looming up at the end of his bed, looking at him. The figure disappeared and Butler discovered that the book he had placed earlier on the shelf had disappeared.
Butler relayed this story to Osbourne, and ‘Black Sabbath’ was born.
Everywhere at the end of time by the keeper
In 2016, the ambient musician The Caretaker, released Everywhere at the end of time. The album, which lasted six hours and was released gradually in six stages, traces the decline of a patient diagnosed with dementia premature. Deep, disorienting and terribly upsetting.
As the record progresses, each stage atrophies more and more. Everything comes to mind at the terrifying fifth stage, a tangible sense of horror and confusion.
‘Fire (Mrs O’Leary’s Cow) by Beach Boys
Stomach-ripples. An instrumental composed by Brian Wilson for the unfinished Beach Boys album, Smile. A concept built around a four-part movement that tracks the four elements: Air, Fire, Earth and Water.
Unfortunately the track was recorded in strange conditions. To evoke the feeling of fire, Wilson asked everyone in the studio to put on firefighters’ helmets and burned a bucket of wood in the recording space so the area smelled like smoke.
A few days after the session, Wilson learned that a nearby building had burned down, leading him to believe the recording had started the fire. He put aside the track and the album, calling it “witchcraft music”.
Beatles’ Revolution 9
The Beatles’ most jarring and controversial song. Lennon described “Revolution 9” as “an unconscious image of what I really think will happen when it does, just like a drawing of the revolution”.
Lennon’s forward-thinking eight-minute odyssey was built on twenty sound effect loops, including clips from “A Day in the Life” and Sibelius’ Seventh Symphony. Lennon worked on the song with his then girlfriend, Yoko Ono. Dizzying curls, people screaming, concrete music.
The song was one of Charles Manson’s favorites, who would go on to draw parallels between the song’s title and the ninth chapter of the Book of Revelation, the story of a bottomless well opening into the world, and an invasion of anthropomorphic long-haired locusts invading to torture the infidels.