Cucurbiophobia - Four Doors of Your Deepest Fears
Release date: October 9
The first of my two picks for this Halloween is an incredible concept album from musician Rob Benny, a.k.a. Cucurbitophobia. Going far beyond just setting a mood, Rob takes the opportunity to tell us an entire story while integrating a wide variety of sources and influences to form a cohesive story about a haunted house in an exceptionally creepy amusement park. On a full listen-through, you'll hear everything from creepy carnival music, eerie pianos, and chugging guitars pounding out heavy riffs.
Persistent throughout the album is the reoccurring distorted voice of a narrator that introduces us to various stages of the story, namely each door as it is entered. In broad strokes, entering each door introduces us to heavy riffs as we enter with "Door Number One" and "Door Number Two" as among the heavy tracks on the album. In between these heavy metal assaults, we are giving unsettling and intriguing transitionary pieces, some of which are based on the familiar talents of Benny's piano skills while others are far more atmospheric in nature. "The Unspeakable Chaos" stands out among these as it thoroughly blends the two approaches seamlessly as a repetitive discordant piano (or perhaps a glockenspiel?) line plays as it is joined by a series of atmospheric hits that continue to increase in intensity.
Four Doors of Your Deepest Fears is the next step in the evolution of the Cucurbitophobia project. A project that began as almost strictly piano and orchestral is now branching out into wildly new territory in more than a few ways. The integration of metal influences along with darker, heavier atmospherics throughout is showing that this project is more than just a few neat tricks and is ever-expanding while being conscious to stay to the roots of its inception. That is, to make scary and engaging concepts perfect for horror fans of all stripes.
The Northern Lighthouse Board - A Plague of Shadows
Release date: August 15
Switching gears dramatically, UK-based project The Northern Lighthouse Board brings us another album of creepy cinema-worthy sounds reminiscent of the past. However, if many other artists choose to take us to the past of the 70s, 80s, or even 90s; A Plague of Shadows goes a step further to take us back to the 1870s or even the 1770s. A time of still rampant superstition despite increasing understanding of the world, listening to this album seems to call back to the days of widespread disease that could only be considered a curse by those afflicted.
The entire album is an atmospheric journey through what feels like frightening misery. Scenes that come to mind as I listened were those of dimly lit cobblestone streets and carts of bodies being pulled along as they were taken to be disposed of. These scenes are created through the use of a variety of odd sounds, many of which are synthesized callbacks to the instruments of centuries ago such as pipe organs, wooden whistles, and even accordion-like sounds while others are the strange and modern warped synths that have created horrifying scenes for years. These old and new sounds blend together masterfully alongside foley work that creates distinguishable sounds as flowing water and soft mumbling in the dark as well as strange indistinguishable sounds that carry a foreboding atmosphere.
The variety of instruments is spread around carefully, with many tracks only containing one or two elements such as "Devil Pins" which is little more than a high-pitched metallophone of some type ringing out spookily. Meanwhile, "The Living Stones" presents us with something slightly more depth as a pipe organ plays a complex line as sheep or goats gently call out in the background. It is this variety of instrumentation that makes this album particularly intriguing and allows it to maintain it more minimalistic approach to composition.