So I’ve been kindly asked to talk about my favorite acts of the Occult Rock scene. It’s a rather tough mission so I’ve decided to mostly go back in time and give you some of my favorite slices of dark music, from the 70s to contemporary bands. Nothing is fixed and it could easily move from a band to another, it’s an endless trip through the corners of psychedelic and doomy obscurities, there is always more to dig, more to find, more to listen to, more to buy especially if you’re also a vinyl aficionado!
First bands coming to my mind were Jacula and Antonius Rex, I’ve discovered those two bands ten years ago as I was slowly going out of my gothic years and diving into the depths of psychedelia and progressive rock genres.
Jacula’s “Valzer” has that strange vibe that evokes to me some nymphs enjoying life in a big forest – it’s rather light compared to some other songs but I really like this kind of mysterious sounds that are both somehow peaceful and innocent.
The song is accompanied by an extract from “Don’t Deliver Us From Evil” (1971) which I believe perfectly suits the mood of that song.
“Witch Dance” by Antonius Rex is a number that is very often stuck in my head, it’s on Ralefun (1978) and is a nice illustration of the more accessible side of the band. It has killer riffs and a flute that is groovy like hell.
I want to stay in Italy a bit more and talk about another obscurity I’ve came across couple years ago, it’s a very rare single by Lydia E Gli Hellua Xenium from 1973 – a fantastic year for Progressive rock bands! It’s a really possessed record with two sides full of passionate vocals and wicked organ parts. I’ve never read anything about them regarding a potential interest in the occult but to me they have enough darkness in them to be part of that small circle of dark progressive bands from the 70s. You could also check Scorpyo, with the same lethal dose of heavy riffs and pounding rhythms minus the female vocalist.
Ahhhh… Vertigo! What a label! I could have named bands like Black Sabbath, Warhorse, Affinity or Cressida but what grabbed my attention is that very interesting looking gimmick cover of Dr. Z‘s Spiritus, Manes et Umbra LP from 1971 with a burning heart on it and that is reaching insanely high prices on the Internet, apparently only 80 copies survived, well… Musically speaking, I was not convinced on the first place but it has a couple of great tracks that are growing in you after a while, it has also lyrics that are dealing a lot with philosophical and occult matters.
I chose “Burn In Anger” to introduce you to that album that is usually hiding well in the big swirly label.
Occult Rock was a term I was not familiar with when I’ve discovered all those bands I told you about before, I used to call them something like “darkish-something-psych/prog” but I’ve never used the word Occult. I started to read about it when dealing with bands like Orchid, Blood Ceremony or Purson and I really dig all of them!
In fact, I was really happy to see passionate people working hard for their art and I’ve found out a lot of common aspects with them – record collecting for example and also that taste for obscurities from the 60s and 70s, outfits, movies, ancient arts and so on.
I’ve decided to pick “Goodbye Gemini” by Blood Ceremony and “Danse Macabre” by Purson. Those are two bands I really adore, both are very unique, one tends to explore the paths left by Antonius Rex and Jethro Tull with that wicked organ and evil flute while the other is exploring the glamorous side of psychedelia and those late 60’s sounds from the UK.
They are great musicians and I’d love to share the stage with them, they definitely belong to la crème de la crème in terms of progressive and psychedelic music. I can’t wait to hear new material from them.
Oh and before I switch to the last topic, you should definitely keep an eye on Psychedelic Witchcraft on Facebook, another talented soul from Italy that is working hard to deliver great doomy sounds and a mesmerizing image as well!
So yeah, I’ve decided as a kind of conclusion to talk about the last two movies I’ve watched :
The first one is called Seven Death In The Cat’s Eye by Antonio Margheriti (1973) with a young Jane Birkin and a short appearance of Serge Gainsbourg as a cold Police inspector. It was… well, let’s say, a mix of weird murders going on in the best “Gialli” tradition with a fluffy ginger cat, a fake gorilla, vampire curse, family problems…
Visually very inspired, weird characters, rather dreamy and surreal, it has some boring moments but I can say I’ve enjoyed it in the end! It’s rather easy to find it so take a chance if you’re into that kind of stuff!
Anna, Quel Particolare Piacere aka Secrets Of A Call Girl aka Anna, The Pleasure, The Torment (!) by Giuliano Carnimeo (1973) is a great Italian movie and I was nicely surprised with that one – I picked it because of Edwige Fenech, I really liked her in The Strange Vice Of Mrs. Wardh (1971) and Tutti I Colori Del Buio (1972).
Here, she’s playing a young girl working in a café, and one day she meets that rather cocky guy who happened to be working with the mafia, and things get complicated as she’s falling hard for him and she has to make tough choices in her life and so on… The actors were really good, the music as well – like always in that kind of movies, actually I thought it was a Giallo in the first place but it turned out to be a sad and rather tragic movie indeed.
The band is currently recording their debut EP and below you may listen to some demo material: