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Listen to our 50 darkest albums as a Spotify playlist
30Here, My Dear (1978)
Soul’s ‘Rumours’, ‘Here, My Dear’ was Gaye’s commercially doomed attempt to rip open the ribcage of his failed marriage to Motown boss Berry Gordy’s elder sister Anna and poke around the viscera.
29Pre-Millennium Tension (1996)
Tricky claimed he wanted ‘Pre-Millennium Tension’ to be “out-and-out punk”, but this brew of Satanic visions and weed psychosis was something far darker. That the song ‘Makes Me Wanna Die’ is the lightest here speaks volumes.
28Elephant Shoe (1999)
Arab Strap’s chief mumbler Aidan Moffat was all coupled up, but there was little domestic bliss to be found on ‘Elephant Shoe’. This was like nuclear fall-out from the battle of the sexes, coloured in the most desolate slowcore hues imaginable.
The legend that all five of Louisville’s Slint checked into a psychiatric institution upon recording ‘Spiderland’ – a major post-rock building block – is bollocks. The fact it exists at all is telling, though.
26My War (1984)
Henry Rollins, Black Flag’s fourth and final vocalist, arguably didn’t make their songs his own until this, their second album. Its final three songs, notably, eschew speed in favour of slow, sludgy crawl-metal.
25This Nation’s Saving Grace (1985)
The Fall are often dank, but it took Brix Smith’s sense of songwriting order to make Mark E’s benighted world of non-sequiturs sound massive and marbled in its gloom.
24White Light From The Mouth Of Infinity (1991)
The Swans of ‘White Light From The Mouth Of Infinity’ was a more nuanced, orchestrated outfit than the blasted, atavistic line-up of the early ’80s. But the likes of ‘Failure’ are all the more powerful for their mastery of light and shade.
23Monoliths & Dimensions (2009)
Where once Sunn O))) records were walls of zero-BPM drone-doom guitar and nothing else, on their seventh album, we encountered choirs, string sections and ‘Alice’, a homage to avant-garde jazzer Alice Coltrane. Their expanded palette increased their emotional weight. “Our music is like the white light going into a prism,” announced Stephen O’Malley…
Barely a year elapsed between the band’s two studio albums, but creatively speaking, it might as well be light years. ‘Unknown Pleasures’ is, notionally speaking, a punk record – albeit a cavernous, spectral-sounding one, thanks to the dark hand of Factory producer Martin Hannett. But there are already glimpses of something broader and more unclassifiable – something the band would cite in full on ‘Closer’. Commencing with ‘Atrocity Exhibition’, a claustrophobic shudder of tribal drums and alien-sounding guitar, ‘Closer’ plumbs rare depths of lyrical abjection and sonic horror. The general feeling of creeping doom is compounded by not just one but two funereal endings, in the shape of ‘The Eternal’ and the exhausted ‘Decades’. Of course, it was never intended as a headstone – but the death of Ian Curtis in May 1980, and the album’s posthumous release two months later, has created a myth that does not wane, but only grows stronger.
21Your Funeral… My Trial (1986)
Recorded smack bang in the middle of Cave’s junkie days, The Bad Seeds’ fourth album is a dark paranoid fantasy. That Cave went on from here to stoving Kylie’s head in with a brick on ‘Where The Wild Roses Grow’ is no surprise.