Finnish psych prog rockers Jess And The Ancient Ones release their third album The Horse And Other Weird Tales this Friday, another new mystical marvel on the prog scene. We dug around guitarist Tomas Corpse’s record collection and unearthed his favourite occult rock albums of all time..
Donovan, Sunshine Superman, 1966
This is a really cheerful pop album, but it has the song Season of the Witch on it. The guitar in that song has an impending doom feel and the lyrics are quite dark. This song was an introduction for where occult rock was heading. This is the dark horse song of the album.
Coven, Withchcraft Destroys Minds And Reaps Souls, 1969
This album is probably a cornerstone for any person who is into occult rock. It was one of the first albums to be performed with live rituals on stage, bones and skulls as props, and overtly sexual themes. It was basically really in your face at the time. Jinx Dawson was only 19 years old when the album was released and her vocals are killer. There is a great Jefferson Airplane jam-like vibe of the music too.
Graham Bond, Holy Magick, 1970
I read that Graham Bond was the musician who brought rudiment blues to England, but also a famously keen occultist. He believed that he was the son of Aleister Crowley, so there was a lot of drug use going on there, but he also made some good music. When I first bought the album, I was hoping this was going to be some really dark shit, so you can image my astonishment when it turned out to be quite uplifting.
Black Sabbath, Black Sabbath, 1970
This album was one of the first tapes I ever bought in the late 80s. I remember being terrified of the album cover artwork. The music was just so oppressive and dark. Black Sabbath is influential because songs like Iron Man and War Pigs are popular riffs to play on guitar. At one point I felt like my head would explode if I heard another doom band, however, I’m sure that I’ll go back to Black Sabbath one day.
Black Widow, Sacrifice, 1970
This album should be mentioned because they made it to the UK top charts in 1970 at a time when many bands were being censored. To be honest, I never really got into Black Widow, but I like the song Come To The Sabbat on that album. My friends were all really into it when I was younger, and it’s definitely an album that belongs in this list
The Rolling Stones, Goats Head Soup, 1973
The Rolling Stones also flirted a little with the devil, as did most rock bands in the 70s with the emergence of the Church of Satan. A song like Dancing With Mr D is a clear example of this. The members of the band have always been fascinated by voodoo and the occult. I believe this was their soul searching period and you won’t find any of those aspects in their modern albums.
Goblin, Suspiria, 1977
When I was younger I was very much into horror films and one day my friend asked me if I knew the band that does all of the horror soundtracks. This is how I discovered Goblin. My friend showed me an obscure VHS recording of Goblin playing in a basement somewhere and this had a big impact on me. There was an Italian occult rock explosion in the late 70s because of the horror film soundtracks and dark imagery that was popular around at the time.
Roky Erickson And The Aliens, The Evil One, 1981
You couldn’t say that the themes on this album are not directly satanic, but there are philosophical lyrical themes. It’s funny because this album is known by all rock musicians from extreme metal to prog, but only for the last 10 years or so. Today, everybody knows Roky Erickson and has heard the song Night Of The Vampire. If not, I highly recommend you have a listen to see what the hype is all about.
Babylon Whores, Cold Heaven, 1997
This is more modern album from Finland in the late 90s, when bands were called death rock instead of occult rock. Babylon Whores were all about the darker side of things, and even though the band are no longer together, the members are all still very much involved in the dark arts. Even if you are not into the music, the lyrics on this album are really spot on and beautifully written. They had a profound impact on me the first time I heard them. Hat’s off to Babylon Whores.
The Devil’s Blood, The Time Of No Time Evermore, 2009
The Devils’ Blood are the modern answer to occult rock. Our band has always been compared to the Devil’s Blood. It is true that our darker themes are similar and that they also use NWOBHM influenced twin harmony guitars. However, it can be quite annoying because we are nothing like them, they are a really great band and this is a really great album.