The horror prog of Goblin

Intro: Dimitris Kaltsas
Translation: Alexandros Mantas, D. Dede, D. Kaltsas

Next Monday (12/6) Goblin will appear in front of the Greek audience in Kyttaro and this is an important event. That is, not only because of the Italian progressive rock band’s long history, but also because the spectacle will be audiovisual and even if there won’t be images through projectors in the show, the memory of all those present will bring back many classic moments of motion pictures. The music of Goblin did not just add sound to many great films mainly by giallo giant Dario Argento, but was more identified than any other OST with the director’s vision. Those initiated know well that masterpieces such as Profondo Rosso and Suspiria would not have the same effect on the public without the terrifying, dark inspirations of Goblin, especially during the 1975-85 decade. Over the years, Goblin wrote music for other directors as well with complete success, and composed few albums that were not soundtracks, all of them great, justifying their position among the most prominent representatives of Rock Progressivo Italiano.


Profondo Rosso [1975]

The debut of Goblin, the film score for a legendary giallo movie by Dario Argento, Profondo Rosso was released in 1975 and is one of the absolute art-horror movie soundtracks since they succeed to spread true fear to the listener. Originally, the film’s soundtrack was supposed to be composed by jazz artist Giorgio Gaslini, but Argento was unhappy with his output, so he asked Goblin to come up with new ideas, and only three of Gaslini’s original themes were retained, which give a jazzy edge to the record. They achieved magnificent audiovisual tracks that even being unsupported of visual aspects, seemingly difficult enough, the discomfort, agitation, panic and murky landscapes are definitely present.  The music fluctuates from symphonic parts to jazzy moments between bass, drums and keyboards composing a totally distinctive style.  The keyboards of Simonneti cause nervous and fear assigning supreme value to dark symphonic progressive music that is accompanied by soft saxes. The uncertainty of the next scene, the anguish and the anticipation of a hopeful ending, represent the characteristics of the album with the unpredictable alternation in the compositions and the course of the tracks. Each song sounds darker, stimulating the senses and creating unexpected escape attempts, as they have already been so excited in the film.

Dina Dede


Roller [1976]

Goblin’s second release Roller was the follow-up to the amazing soundtrack of Dario Argento’s legendary Profondo Rosso and one of the exceptions to their rule of composing cinematic music. The Italians here sound liberated, proving their self-efficiency as a band. The title track places emphasis on the keyboards and the electronic sounds that mix up with intense basslines and the crystal-clear sound of the drums, producing a sublime and pompous symphonic prog outcome. The sound of the drops of water introduces us to Aquaman, one of the most famous cuts of the record with a solo that pays the band’s homage to the British scene. Snip Snap is the big surprise here with funky rhythms that make plain the band’s interest to experiment, something that is verified by the magically wayward and boldly progressive Dr. Frankenstein. After the classical-influenced melody of The snake awakens comes the album’s top moment, Goblin, which showcases Claudio Simonetti’s talent on the keyboards in a prog epic that remains intact with the passage of time. Roller is registered as one of the best albums by Goblin and it is one of the brightest, and somewhat only lately recognized as such, jewels of RPI on the 70s.

Christos Minos

Suspiria [1977]

Suspiria is nothing less than an excellent classic horror movie that released in 1977 and directed by Dario Argento. Let’s say a fact: one of the most favorite soundtracks, is considered by some as the best in the history of horror films, this masterpiece is definitely a highlight for this movie exceeding the limits back in the 70’s. It worships wicthes, as Argento wanted from Goblin, “the audience to feel them” using repeated voices, anguish sounds and heavy breathing, demonic tubular bells and whispering the word “witch!” resulting in a terrifying score.  It was one of the first recorded using a synthesizer, the rare “big Moog”, as Argento urged Simonetti, since the latter was a huge fan of Keith Emerson. Acoustic chords, multi-instrumentation like celesta and timpani are concerted with various screams as the keyboardist Simonetti adds melodies and crafts a symphonic mood to their music. Heavy progressive guitars, piano themes and jazz outbreaks complete the various compositions of this album that are so brilliantly attributed based on the film.

In the end, terror has embedded in your mind and this haunting listening experience “depicts” completely all the shocking and stunning visuals. To fully understand the album’s aesthetics, someone has to worship the Argento’s epic, otherwise it has lost almost the whole meaning of it. And this is not a call but a necessity.

Dina Dede

Il Fantastico Viaggio Del Bagarozzo Mark [1978]

“The fantastic voyage of Mark the Beetle” is a special chapter in the prolific back catalogue of Goblin because it is just the second “normal” studio album of the classic era of the Italians. Their approach here is a far cry from the soundtrack one which we are used to them and they focused, as they did in Roller, on more traditional symphonic prog vistas, in a time when the Italian scene was in its death throes, no less. Another element that should be mentioned is the addition of vocals (delivered by their guitar player Massimo Morante). Even though it didn’t reach the high standards of Roller, there are plenty of sublime moments of lyrical prog in Il Fantastico Viaggio Del Bagarozzo Mark, like the opener Mark Il Bagarozzo which is based on the guitar and synth-mellotron provided by Morante and Simonetti respectively, as well as on the wonderful rhythm section by Marangolo / Pignatelli or, for instance, the keyboard-driven Le Cascate Di Viridiana and Terra Di Goblin. Halfway the album, where interest falters slightly, Claudio Simonetti’s inspirations and the high technical level of Goblin stand out, whereas E Suono Rock that brings down the curtain is the heaviest moment of an album that makes perfect sense to be considered among the best of the Italians.

Paris Gravouniotis


Zombi (Dawn of The Dead) [1978]

Zombi marked the inauguration of the soundtrack collaborations of Goblin with other directors aside Dario Argento, despite the fact that he played an important role for this particular one. In this case, the Italian progsters draped Dawn Of The Dead by George Romero with their music, one of the most legendary horror films. With a sound based almost entirely on the multi-instrumentalist Claudio Simonetti, they composed haunted melodies and dark themes that sound fresh even to this day. From the creepy opener L’ Alba Dei Morti Viventi that kicks in imposingly leaded by Simonetti’s keyboards to the main theme of Zombi, Goblin pulled off to compose one of the most signature horror OST. Nevertheless, aside these two timeless compositions, the album includes other memorable moments too, excluding perhaps the triad of Safari, Torte In Faccia, Al Morgini Della Follia that can hardly be listened to when unaccompanied by the film. For instance, the instrumental piano of Risveglio, the prog rock feeling of La Caccia and Oblio and the powerful heavy guitars of Zaratozom, are but a few proofs that the quartet of Simonetti / Morante / Pignatelli / Marangolo pulled out all the stops once more.

Paris Gravouniotis


Buio Omega [1979]

D’Amato’s Buio Οmega (1979) follows the same Italian recipe and tradition. Sick and obsessive minds do dastardly deeds, depicted whimsically by patching together scenes of violence and copious gore. Goblin decipher once more the whole situation blow-by-blow and provide the appropriate atmosphere, following closely the development of the plot. They showcase their immense talent for supplying the viewer with a series of alternating sentiments. From the temporary safety to the uncomfortable suspiciousness and finally to the horrendous realization of an inevitable ending. Unwavering progressive, casting furtive looks at the 80s as part of their new direction, while the nightmarish magic that characterizes them is ever-present. On the keyboards, there is Maurizio Guarini in place of Claudio Simonetti who does an amazing job both in compositions and the arrangements. The main themes plunges you head-first by means of the panic-evoking synthesizers while the suites Strive After Dark, Keen emanate an ominous feeling that climaxes the agony. The haunted and gothic keyboards of Ghost Vest rivet the listener, the jazz/rock dashes of Pillage, Rush are perfectly suitable for action scenes, the idyllic background of the majestic piano-driven Quiet Drops, or even the almost dancing Bikini Island, adapt ideally to the dark disposition of a story that deals with sadism, necrophilia, claustrophobic madness.

Giannis Zavradinos


Contamination [1980]

Just a year after Buio Omega, Contamination directed by director Luigi Cozzi was played in cinemas, a horror science fiction film, a genre that also flourished in the 1970s. The soundtrack was composed by Goblin and they excelled once more. Excluding the song also included in Buio Omega (Bikini Island, Pillage, Rush and the beloved Quiet Drops), the top moments here are the classic Connexion, Wilthy and jazzy Ogre. All in all, this is a great soundtrack that surpasses the rest of the film with an irritating ease, though it is not an indifferent film and has a fanatic audience, especially among the fans of cheesy gore effects and B sci-fi (starring Ian McCulloch, as here). Composition quality, impeccable performance and especially the combination of perfect atmosphere with groovy themes bear the Goblin seal, although Claudio Simonetti is not on the line-up here (Maurizio Guarini plays keyboards). The 80s were a fact, although this had little effect on their music, something that changed two years later, when Simonetti returned to the band and Goblin collaborated again with beloved Dario…

Dimitris Kaltsas


Tenebre [1982]

Dario Argento trusted blindly the talent and knack of Goblin to grasp the spirit and the alternating of moods as they materialize on the screen. The ambitious production of Tenebre (1982) finds the Italian master of giallo at top form and Claudio Simonetti reuniting with Pignatelli and Μοrante to carry out the mission. As a trio, the group is more flexible as the demands of the time are minimal, resulting in less complicated arrangements that develop around the synthesizers. Rhythm changes take a backseat, the drum programming is in the lead, more emphasis is placed on the atmosphere and the dark melodies with well-placed layers of keyboards, guitar outbreaks and groovy basslines. Contrary to homologous bands that gave in to plastic production of the 80s transmogrifying their musical identity and thus sounding outdated, the triad of Simonetti, Pignatelli, Morante offers a modern and fresh sound (for the time) and conceive an amazing soundtrack that stands the test of time. Especially the opening title-track is etched on your memory right off the bat and the rest, like Gemini, Flashing and Waiting  Death, climax maliciously the suspense doing justice to the morbid images that Argento generously furnish us.

Giannis Zavradinos


Non ho Sonno [2001]

It had been 16 years since Phenomena. The time had came, however, in 2001 for Goblin‘s next (and last to date) collaboration with master of cinematic horror Dario Argento. Non Ho Sonno, a giallo mystery film starring the legendary Max von Sydow – and the last very good Argento movie IMO- was the ideal occasion. Through the 14 tracks of the soundtrack, Goblin compensate us for all the years of absence by giving us an album that stands comfortably without the movie and overflows with inspiration, explosive riffs, creepy keys, imposing bass lines and the characteristic dark Goblin atmosphere. For the first time, the flirt of their music with hard sound is naturally transformed into solid metal driven mainly by Massimo Morante’s guitar. The limited promotion of the film deprived this OST of broad recognition. And the reason why this was necessary is that it is one of the greatest horror soundtracks since 2000, if not the best, with its main theme standing right among the top songs of the Italians.

Dimitris Kaltsas

Four Of A Kind [2015]

At the crucial step of reuniting, Goblin did not invest on a movie this time. The album, without being extremely dark or horrific, has very good melodies, with a sense of unambiguous mystery flowing into them. In The Name Of Goblin, is a tribute to the band’s name and perhaps also the essence of their musical identity and Mousse Roll starts with an introduction from Suspiria which is progressively developed to close in almost the same way it began. Kindgom is also an excellent piece with its atmospheric keys being guided by Pignatelli’s bass and the always great guitar Morante to complete it. Morante also stars in Dark Blue(s), while Love And Hate complements the best tracks of the album on a show by Guarini on the piano. The extraordinary Four Of A Kind is not a masterpiece, but it’s an album that introduces Goblin to a new audience, giving him a double quest: the works of Goblin in the 70’s and the films that were accompanied musically.

Christos Minos


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