Goblin & Zombi bring horror soundtrack rock to Starland Ballroom, NJ 12-7-13

When it comes to horror movie scores, not many artists or bands have created darkly atmospheric music as skillfully, or for as long, as the Italian progressive rock band Goblin. Their career spans four decades and nearly 20 albums. Most commonly known for their work with horror master Dario Argento, their soundtrack work includes Suspiria, Profondo Rosso, Tenebre, Dawn of the Dead and many more. Throughout the years, they gained popularity for their movie compositions, but have also released a few non-soundtrack albums such as Roller, Il Fantastico Viaggio Del Bagarozzo Mark and their newest album, Back To The Goblin. In addition, Goblin’s keyboardist Claudio Simonetti has gone on to score many horror films such as Demons, Phenomena, Lucio Fulci’s Conquest, and more. Simonetti has also made a solo career for himself by releasing albums with new versions of Goblin songs and re-imagined themes from horror/action movies and shows.

Originally formed as Cherry Five, they later changed their name to Goblin while composing Dario Argento’s horror/giallo Profondo Rosso (Deep Red) in 1975. The collaboration between the two would form a bond that continued through many of Argento’s movies. Providing a musical backbone to the richly atmospheric and artistic horror films, Goblin itself became its own character in the movies. If there will ever be a Horror Hall of Fame, Goblin would surely have their own section. That’s why fans were thrilled to see that Goblin was touring North America for the first time in their 40 year long career. Finally, fans of Italian horror could see the band that provided the scores to so many of their favorite movies. The tour began in early October with 17 dates including Claudio Simonetti, Maurizio Guarini and Massimo Morante. It then took a short hiatus, and picked up again in late November. For the second half of the tour the lineup changed, making this Goblin closer to its original form excluding Simonetti, Bruno Previtali, and Titta Tanii. The three were replaced by Aidan Zammit, and original members Fabio Pgnatelli and Agostino Marangolo. For fans of Simonetti, he has since formed a new version of Goblin. Being called Simonetti’s Goblin, it features members of his other band Deamonia. They also added synth/prog band Zombi to the tour.

Zombi -originally from Pittsburgh, PA- consists of Steve Moore and Anthony Paterra. With elements of retro horror, space music, prog rock and thick atmosphere, Zombi was a perfect choice to open up for Goblin. With albums such as Cosmos, Surface to Air and Spirit Animal, Zombi covers many different sounds and atmospheres. Their newest album Escape Velocity has an electronic and upbeat mood that offers the perfect soundtrack for a late night drive (especially if it’s gloomy and foggy out). Their instrumental ambience is ideal for putting on, drifting off and imagining your own world too. Zombi takes its name from the Italian title for George A Romero’s Dawn of the Dead (the soundtrack of which was also created by Goblin). Zombi also cites Goblin as a big influence and as musical heroes; so opening up for the Italian legends was not only fitting but somewhat a dream come true for the group. This was an epic lineup of dark and brooding atmospheric music that horror fans have been eagerly awaiting. Even the poster bill for the tour could be straight out of a horror movie, featuring a retro drawing of a girl all in red that looked like it could be the cover of a lost Argento or Fulci film.

A line formed outside of the venue, the fans wearing all different types of horror shirts and showing their dedication to the band and the horror genre. Years of waiting for Goblin to tour have finally paid off. First taking the stage was Zombi. The group played some of their harder hitting songs, mostly tracks off their album Surface to Air. The group changed things up a bit by playing “Infinity”. The song starts off with ambient synths and works its way into masterful drumming as it ascends into a buildup that only Zombi can deliver. The song then shifts into an ultra atmospheric and upbeat section that brings the listener into a synth laden euphoria. Not only does Zombi fill the venue with their atmospheric and moody music, but visually, it is exceptionally entertaining to watch these guys live and in action. Steve Moore showcases his musical talent as he switches back and forth from bass to keyboards, sometimes playing both instruments at the same time. At the same time, Anthony Paterra shows his skills with impressive drum fills and pounding yet sophisticated style of drumming. The duo complements each other effortlessly and gives the band its very large and other worldly sound. The soft blaring of synths starts as the band began to play the epic “Night Rhythms”, the last track from Surface to Air. Over 18 minutes long and packed with the many styles of music that Zombi has to offer, “Night Rhythms” takes the listener on a journey into an ambient utopia. The name “Night Rhythms” perfectly sums up the mood and feeling of this song. Zombi has a unique way of drawing listeners into epic songs so much so that at the end of a near 20 minute track you’re left thinking, “It’s over already?” The band goes on to finish their set with “Orion”, the opening track from their album Cosmos. One of Zombi’s more sci-fi/space sounding songs, “Orion” has catchy synths, grungy bass and a killer beat; this song explores Zombi’s ambient/space prog rock sound.

No wonder Zombi has been referred to as “Music for the sophisticated head banger”. Ending their set with the song “Orion” only made the audience want more. Fans of Goblin who have never heard of Zombi were certainly in for a treat with this tour. Just remember even though there is a drought of the horror we grew up and love, it’s good to know there are modern bands out there like Zombi that fulfill our horror music needs. You can also check out the solo works of Steve Moore and Majeure (Anthony Paterra) for more amazing music.

The crowd seems restless with anticipation. Fans have wondered for a long time if Goblin will continue touring, let alone if they will come to the states. The buildup has been years in the making and it’s been worth the wait. Horror fans will get to see something special; they get to see the band that put its musical magic into so many horror films; the band that has given Suspiria and Profondo Rosso its haunting music. For horror fans, this is not only reliving these movies, but getting closer to them than ever before. The stage lights go off and the room turns dark. Goblin emerges and goes right into their first song, a track from their new album Back to the Goblin. Goblin’s new material is another amazing addition to the bands catalogue of music. The band talks to the crowd, thanking all their American fans for coming out and for their support. Goblin continues to play more songs from their non-soundtrack albums such as “Roller”, “Dr. Frankenstein”, “Aquaman”. Here the band explores more of its songs featuring the standout sounds of the 70’s. With thick hazy atmosphere, intense guitar solos and a funk influenced prog-meets-symphonic-ambience, Goblin not only brings you back in time, but takes you into a grindhouse movie that was never made. If you close your eyes you would swear that you’ve been transcended back to the 70’s.

After taking us through their more progressive rock tracks, the band starts to play more soundtrack related songs. Goblin goes into themes such as “Mad Puppet”, “Profondo Rosso” and “Non Ho Sonno”. All the while, a screen on the stage shows a video with clips from the movies. This was amazing to see; not only were the videos edited in a somewhat psychedelic way, but it brought you closer into the movies. Watching clips from Profondo Rosso while hearing Goblin play the theme live is somewhat of a horror fan’s dream (or in this case a nightmare) come true. Goblin also entertained the crowd by having a female dancer on the stage for certain songs. Dressed all in black, the girl elegantly danced and moved through the songs in a hypnotic fashion. The dancer was a nice touch and perfectly set the tone for the music. It was also very fitting to have a dancer who nearly looked like the black swan when the band played the crowd favorite “Suspiria”. “Suspiria” was also a standout song, not only because of its popularity but because the way Goblin played it. The band gave the song more of an acoustic and somber sound in the beginning and also highlighted many different aspects of the song, such as its prog rock and heavy sound to its hauntingly beautiful atmosphere.

Goblin also took a minute to talk to the crowd through the help of a keyboard talk box. Asking the audience to make some noise for Dario Argento the crowd yelled out and Goblin began to play the theme from Tenebre. Horror fans couldn’t ask for much more, Dario Argento directed the masterpieces, Goblin composed the music, and the fans are full time residents in the world that these masters of horror have created. Goblin also played movie themes from Dawn of the Dead/Zombi. Teamed with the screen playing clips from one of the greatest zombie movies ever, you have never felt closer to the zombie apocalypse. Watching Goblin live is like taking a ride through the sets of your favorite horror movies. Not only is the music atmospheric, but it also truly delivers heaviness and a pounding prog rock sound. Many genres of metal and rock today even cite Goblin as an influence on their writing and overall sound. Having been around for a while and scoring some of the most artistic and memorable horror films, these guys have earned quite a reputation. Seeing them live only reinforces how powerful of a force Goblin truly is.

Whether you have never seen a single one of the movies that Goblin has scored or you have seen them all, Goblin will put on one of the best shows you have ever seen. With atmosphere as rich as the colors in Suspiria, you will get lost in the music of this legendary band. Hopefully they will make a trend of touring the states because the fans can never get enough of Goblin. The Zombi and Goblin tour is a horror fanatics dream come true, both bands bring the audience into an otherworldly place that only exists in a movie that is playing somewhere in another dimension. With these two great instrumental bands, you can escape reality and let the music take you to wherever your imagination wants to go.
Written by Sean Dugdale

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