Goblin: The Italian Instrumental Prog-Rock Horror Soundtrack of Your Nightmares


“For $200, an Instrumental Prog-rock Italian horror soundtrack band of the ’70s.” “Who is Goblin?”

They may just be the Danny Elfmans’ of Italy, thanks to numerous spooky and seminal film scores, including Dario Argento’s 1977 classic Suspiria (ranked by this paper at #100 on a list of the 100 greatest films made in the 20th century); 1975’s Profondo Rosso (Deep Red); and the European version of George A. Romero’s Zombi/Dawn of the Dead. (Or does it make Goblin more akin to Mike Oldfield, the prog musician whose 1973 “Tubular Bells’ hit huge thanks to its inclusion in The Exorcist?)

Many lineups (in true Spinal Tap style: New Goblin, Goblin Rebirth, and The Goblin Keys) and a lack of exposure in America made Goblin a true cult band. But thanks to Internet and hipsters, the group is enjoying a previously unknown fame in the United States.

They recently re-recorded four classic tracks for an EP, released by Death Waltz Recording Co. on 180 gram red vinyl cut at 45rpm, with cover art by Graham Humphreys (Nightmare on Elm Street, Evil Dead). And this month sees the band–Massimo Morante and Maurizio Guarini, along with Claudio Simonetti and newer members Bruno Previtali and Titta Tani–launching the first U.S. tour in the band’s 40-year-with-multiple-hiatus-history. Goblin’s sound–by turns foreboding, hypnotic, and rife with tension, trippiness, whispered words and mysterious musicality–evokes mental images of drama and terror, even sans accompanying celluloid.

Keyboard player Maurizio Guarini, who first joined in 1975, explains in heavily accented English: “After being basically dormant for 20 years, a general thing that happened, social network helped to spread all the ’70s bands, so a lot of people had a chance to see old pictures and listen to old songs. We are definitely becoming more and more popular the last five or six years. I don’t know why.”

The live Goblin gigs please Guarini. “In general, there is no way, really, to listen to music socially, like we did in the ’70s. I remember the release of the Gentle Giant and Genesis albums; we were just sitting on my couch listening two or three times to the vinyl, religious, silently. Now it’s like consuming music in your headsets.”

Guaraní, who cites 2001: A Space Odyssey as his favorite movie, laments that so far, Goblin’s sole foray into American cinema was the 1981 movie St. Helens (about the volcano eruption, starring Art Carney?!) He says, “It didn’t go very well, it was just released on TV.” But with the band soon playing the film-heavy Beyond Fest in Los Angeles, they’re hoping for another, better opportunity. When it comes to creating haunting music for haunted films, Goblin are masters in their field, and they’re ready to up the ante. “We’re waiting to see what happens,” Guarani concludes. “We just try to do our best and keep making our unique sound. You never know, maybe somebody will call us.” Hollywood, are you listening? After 40 years, Goblin is ready for their close-up.

Goblin play the Music Hall Of Williamsburg on Oct. 6 and Webster Hall on Oct. 7.

Ten Metal Albums to Hear Before You Die
The Top 20 New York Hardcore and Metal Albums of All Time
The Oral History of NYC’s Metal/Hardcore Crossover