I really shouldn’t compile this list because there’s been enough stories where the protagonist’s acquaintance gets sucked into a realm of madness after listening to very specific, dark music. But then again, the narrator usually gets out alive to tell the tale in vague “beyond explainable”-descriptions, so why not gorge in the fun that is music about and inspired by sea monsters, otherworldly realms and transcendental weirdness!?
Oh, and just for your information: I try to stay clear of the obvious choices of bands generally dedicated to Lovecraft or all the metal/gothic bands that sing about this stuff. If I like one of those songs, it will be included but I try to stick with the fun indie-choices because that’s how I roll!
Mountain Goats – Lovecraft in Brooklyn
Lovecraft was actually miserable in New York. He moved there with his wife and complained a lot about it in his stories via his narrators. It was all the buzzing Hipster-life that got him down and probably also his own racism that is very hard to maintain in a city like New York.
The Vaselines – Lovecraft
You know, given that Lovecraft was a shut-in and that Poe himself also was kind of sickly, I wonder whether the premise of the typical horror-writer is being a total nerd and social outsider, so you can dwell alone at home and conjure up those weird stories. But then again, Stephen King seems kind of open and I am quite sure that Mary Shelley was a hoot, so maybe just some of those horror writers – as with all artists – thought that they totally should be miserable all the time to really FEEL their art, man…
Lovecraft – Royal Jelly
This is a little puzzling because the title actually refers to one of the coolest short stories Roald Dahl ever wrote who was not just the author for many beloved children’s books (seriously, on my ongoing quest to ask musicians about their favourite books as kids, Dahl is the No.1 answer) but also wrote some smashing horror short stories. “Royal Jelly” is one of my earliest memories of his stories because it is terrifying and awesome. I don’t want to spoil, so feel free to look it up yourself.
PS: There is another band called “Lovecraft” (or maybe it’s the same, they do sound very different, though) who released the album “Lovecraft USA” in the year 1999 and it’s a real cool, real 90s-alt-pop-sounding gem.
Charles the Osprey – Lovecraft! Smile!
Seriously, H.P. was a real downer and given his many, many sad-faced narrators you would probably not want to spend time with him too much because he would just go on and on about how everything was better 500 years ago and how the modern world is just horrible and full of Philistines and stupid immigrants…urgh, never invite Lovecraft to your parties, people!
The Beach Monsters – Cthulhu Candy
Oh man, looking for a song about Cthulhu (another clue that Lovecraft was kind of a dick is the way he spelled his monsters – it’s like the old-timey version of spelling a name extra-difficult only to stand out of the crowd), is horrible. First, there’s a lot of Electro stuff (but the one that is kind of boring) and then there’s bands like Cradle of Filth, Sulphur Aeon, Arkham Inmate, Vredehammer, Beastwars and Wormfood and you just know how they sound like by reading their name (and I listened, they sound exactly like that). It was not a pleasure to find something that was a little different. We need more Miley Cyrus and Justin Timberlake-songs about Cthulhu, people!
Blue Oyster Cult – The old gods return
Ok, so here is your hardrock/metal-mania.
I always liked the idea of old, archaic entities slumbering in the depths of this world only to cause havoc when awoken. I think, when it comes to a religious/mythological worldview, the image of a morally ambiguous, maybe even dangerous god always appealed more to me because it strikes me more true when looking at nature and, well, human nature. Only in daydreams, of course, because I am a scientific person by heart and therefore generally don’t think that a godly entity is a possibility.
There is also a nice psychological fear to it, that all the (apparent) civilized life we build up can be destroyed by a very old, natural being within seconds.
Metallica – the thing that should not be
I think for modern horror – whether in comics, books or movies – Lovecraft was a real gem because he was one of the few horror authors who not only created monsters and ghosts but actually a whole conceptualized world therefore giving many artists a fictitious place to draw from. He – of course – was the opposite of a gem when it comes to his rampant racism which also made its way in many of his stories (never forget, the dude was disgustingly racist).
King obviously was heavily inspired (“Mist” and “From a Buick 8” really drew from this world) but also Clive Barker seems to use a different sphere, a parallel world to draw some of his creatures and characters from (and not just “Hellbound”).
It’s just a weird and incredibly scary thought that it only needs a little crack to let things enter this world that no one could possibly imagine. I am actually currently reading “American Elsewhere” by Robert Jackson Bennett (enjoying it very much) which has this sort of notion but in a completely different direction than King or Barker (I actually wish that King would be able to compile some of his parallel-worlds as successfully as Bennett). And the game “Beyond two souls” also plays a little with the concept of parallel worlds that can reach our own realm of existence.
John Zorn – Reanimator
Careful, this is artsy, jazzy stuff aka super exhausting!
Although I am not too keen on living forever in my body, so the whole reanimation/Frankenstein-stuff doesn’t really appeal to me, I do like the notion of my brain living on in a cool, superstrong robot-suit one day. Make it happen!
John is Gone – Love Reanimator
I always wonder whether I would really react as much in horror if I would see the things that Lovecraft’s protagonists see (and who eventually go crazy…although Poe was even more adamant that you would just end up in an asylum – always). I mean, sure, a brain-eating monster is horrifying but very often, the protagonists just see other creatures that don’t seem to be aggressive or dangerous and just look different and the reader has to rely on the (not very dependable) narrator that they are “ugly beyond explanation”. Are human beings really so horrible that they immediately have to reach for their flamethrower (or in Lovecraft’s case: faint) whenever they see something alien?
I remember watching “Cloverfield” for the first time and wondering whether – despite probably being dead within a few seconds – it wouldn’t also be somewhat amazing to see that this world (or this universe if we consider some origin-theories of the Cloverfield-monster) can create something as huge and epic as this monster. I mean, I guess if I could choose between being hit by a car or being eaten by a gigantic lizard-monster, I would probably choose the lizard-monster just to see something cool before I die.
And look at that little fellow…he is adorbs!