Conjuring Goblin, the cult prog band behind the Suspiria soundtrack

Goblin - Italian prog rock band known for their horror movie soundtracks

Prog-rockers’ Goblin road to rock timelessness is as unusual as their music. The Italian group spent their career making a name for themselves, chiefly, through their memorable horror movie soundtracks. The unusual journey and subsequent influence on artists such as Thom Yorke, have transformed them into cult heroes for those in the know.

Fans of 2018’s horror remake Suspiria will, naturally, feel they have a bone to pick with the committee running the Academy Awards. Despite receiving high praise from critics and fans alike, the movie has gone without receiving a single nomination this year. One of the most surprising snubs was for that of the movie’s soundtrack, composed by none other than Radiohead’s Thom Yorke. A group of critics unimpressed by Thom Yorke?! Say it ain’t so.

Yorke’s decision to take on the job was particularly brave given the cult status of the original soundtrack. The Suspiria soundtrack written and performed by Goblin, is held in the kind of regard reserved for very few other horror movie scores. Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells being the other, obvious, comparison. The Radiohead singer’s work has been received well by critics.

The original score served merely as a distant blueprint for the 2019 version. The 1970’s soundtrack is famed for its experimental use of sound, and it’s manic, at times beautiful and thrilling, main theme. Perhaps geography and their genre of choice has had something to do with the relative lack of fame of the band. That is to say that the band’s name is not really famous. Their music, however, is.

Goblin meet Argento and compose the soundtrack to Suspiria

Goblin were an Italian progressive rock group, begun in the 1960s. Initial recording efforts stalled in terms of sales. But then, unexpectedly, the band received an offer from Italian director Dario Argento, to rewrite the score for one of the movies he was working on. It seemed like a relatively small diversion and, so, the band accepted.

Goblin - Prog rock band from ItalyThe movie was the horror/thriller Profondo Rosso, a controversial, yet successful film title at the time of its release. The soundtrack composed by Goblin was a surprise smash hit. Goblin were topping the Italian pop charts and also receiving acclaim across Europe and in the United States.

The band’s subsequent trajectory had them altering between classic rock albums and soundtrack material, the latter of which would receive the higher praise. In 1977 they composed and performed the soundtrack to the aforementioned Suspiria, arguably the band’s opus. The film was, once again, directed by Argento. It’s style and pace quickly earned it cult status, an honor invariably bestowed also on the movie’s music creators. One more 1960s band worth being rediscovered.

The soundtrack to your worst nightmares

In 1978 Goblin were involved in a similar manner with the movie Dawn of the dead. The sound was this time geared closer to the popular style of hard-rock. It was another success and it is today the band’s best known composition in the United States.

The band continued in a similar manner for the following years, often capable producing glimpses of eerie brilliance. But their advancement was halted when the group began dissolving, successively losing its founding members. They called quits in 1983.

But by the early 2000’s they were back at work. Their cool, horror rock credentials now solidified, the group members continue to tour until the present day, although various versions of Goblin have been spotted, each including some, never all, of the original band members.

Striking and bizarre, as well as highly original, Goblin are, without a doubt, a band whose sound is worth being discovered by alt rock and soundtrack music fans in the present day.

Eduard Bănulescu

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