Gaming Soundtrack double feature: Heresy vs. Heresie
First on the bill is Heresy, the 1990 dark ambient disc from Lustmord aka Brian Williams. Heresy is one of two Lustmord albums regularly featured at my table, the other being The Place Where the Black Stars Hang. Dark, oppressive, and menacing, Heresy is well suited for exploring creepy locales (haunted towers, ruined monasteries, etc.) and underground adventuring. Some of the stuff on this album sounds like it directly inspired the dungeon atmospheres on the Diablo computer game soundtrack…
And appropriately so. The sounds on the album were recorded in various subterranean locations; according to the sleeve notes, these included “crypts, caverns, mines, deep shelters and catacombs together with material of seismic and volcanic origin.”
The back cover has some dark, cryptic words to inspire the imagination to deeper realms of unease:
“as the books burn, and a peculiar kind of darkness falls
clutching mens’ hearts, consuming bones
as a frozen star beckons, the crumbling of idols
beyond a cold sanctuary, of fire and of ice
deep in the bedrock, already here i come”
If I really want to musically strike fear into the hearts of my players, I dial up Heresie, the 1978 album by Belgian avant-orchestral-prog-rock group Univers Zero. Inspired by the music of Stravinsky and Bartok and the writings of H.P. Lovecraft, Univers Zero specializes in dark orchestral compositions for their unique “chamber-rock” instrumentation: drums, bass, guitar, oboe/bassoon, violin/viola, and keyboards. All the albums by this group (and its siblings Art Zoyd and Present) are worthy of inclusion into my gaming soundtrack, but this album takes the cake.
Heresie is one of the scariest records I’ve ever heard, more of an instrumental horror movie soundtrack than a rock record. The first track, “La Faulx” is particularly effective and creating a really dark, disturbing atmosphere. Dissonant drones, creepy strings and percussion, and some seriously unsettling guttural chanting…
Great album for when PCs are tracking down demon cults and other really eeeevil situations.