The Lovecraft Show
1. Behind The Walls Of Sleep - Black Sabbath
From the first heavy metal album ever, this is not a direct quote, nor are the lyrics explicitly Lovecraftian. However, Geezer Butler, when asked about it, replied,
'I think I may have borrowed the title 'Behind The Wall Of Sleep' from 'Beyond The Wall Of Sleep' (of which I have a first edition), but it's so long ago, I can't really remember'. On whether 'Planet Caravan' from Paranoid is a Lovecraft song, he states, 'Planet Caravan' has nothing to do whatsoever with Lovecraft.' (The Strange Sound of Cthulhu' by Gary Hill)
2. E.T.I. (Extra Terrestrial Intelligence) - Blue Oyster Cult
This song makes references to 'The King In Yellow' (1895) featured in a collection of short stories by Robert W. Chambers, read by Lovecraft in early 1927, and referenced in 'The Whisperer in Darkness' (1931).
"I’m in fairy rings and tower beds
“Don’t report this” three men said
Books by blameless and by the dead
King in yellow, the Queen in red"
by Donald Roeser and Sandy Pearlman
©1976 B. O'Cult Songs, Inc.
The Blue Oyster Cult 1988 album 'Imaginos' is very much Lovecraftian in tone, especially the songs 'I Am The One You Warned Me Of', 'Les Invisibles', 'In The Presence Of Another World' and 'The Siege And Investiture Of Baron Von Frankenstein's Castle At Wisseiria'. The common thread through this concept album is mention of a 'starry wisdom' and while the album concept was envisioned as a trilogy of double albums, it didn't work out that way. The final work appeared with songs in a jumbled order.
"Your master is a monster
Born of a yolkless egg
He has dominion over animals
He walks the world Entrail diviner
And when the stars are right
He locks the door behind the door behind the door
The milky way abyss inclines"
("In The Presence Of Another World")
by Sandy Pearlman and Joe Bouchard
©1988 S. Pearlman, Inc and B. O'Cult Songs, Inc.
More information here about Imaginos
Their 2001 album 'Curse of the Hidden Mirror' contains the song 'The Old Gods Return'.
"Now is the time the old gods return
Now is the time the old gods return
Exactly when the world is not expecting it
Exactly when we're sure of ourselves
That's exactly when the old gods return
And sweep our cities back into hell"
by John Shirley, Eric Bloom and Donald Roeser
©2001 Triceratops Music/Six Pound Dog Music
3. The Thing That Should Not Be - Metallica
The second Metallica song to reference Lovecraft, the first was the instrumental "The Call Of Ktulu" from 'Ride The Lightning'.
The Thing That Should Not Be (Master Of Puppets) is based upon the short story "Shadow Over Innsmouth" (1936) and contains an abbreviated couplet from Lovecraft.
"Not dead which eternal lie
stranger eons Death may die"
"That is not dead which can eternal lie,
And with strange aeons death may die"
from the story "The Nameless City" (1921)
4. Shadow Out Of Time - Rage
From the story of the same name (1936) and the album 'Black In Mind'(1995), the song pretty much follows the story.
"Like a shadow out of time its injected in my mind,
like a shadow out of time
Like a vision in disguise it took hold of all my ways,
like a shadow out of time.
They have told me Ive reacted like I was not from this earth.
I guess this something inside me was not.
When Ive got these visions that I look down at myself I get
scared. This is not my body, but its ... what ?"
(Music by P. Wagner, S. Efthimiadis / Lyrics by P. Wagner)
Rage have many Lovecraftian inspired songs, including "The Crawling Chaos" (another name for Nyarlathotep), and "In A Nameless Time" all from 'Black In Mind, "Beyond The Wall Of Sleep", from Trapped! (1992) and their 2003 album 'Soundchaser' is a modernised story based (loosely) on Lovecraft's ideas.
5. Return Of The Old Ones - Manilla Road
From their 1988 album 'Out Of The Abyss', 'Return Of The Old Ones' mentions Cthulhu and The Old Ones directly.
"Here in the darkness
Black dreams of Chaos
I hear Cthulu's call
Forever The Old Ones
Shall be upon us
Until they devour us all"
The whole album is full of Lovecraft links, and Manilla Road have many other Lovecraftian-inspired songs. '"Children Of The Night" and "Mystification" from the album 'Mystification' (1987) are Lovecraft-leaning. Also from 'Out Of The Abyss' the title track, 'Black Cauldron' and 'War In Heaven' contain Lovecraft referencing. 'The Courts of Chaos' (1990) has a song "From Beyond" which references the Stuart Gordon movie (1986) (loosely) based on Lovecraft's writings. "The Books of Skelos: I. The Book of Ancients” from the same album mentions 'Cthulu' and the Necronomicon.
The 2001 album "Atlantis Rising" is a concept album, dealing with a war between the Old Ones and the Gods of Valhalla first explored in 'War In Heaven'.
6. Shackled to the Trilithon of Kutulu - Bal-Sagoth
Bal-Sagoth owe their inspiration much more so to Robert E. Howard, but manage to squeeze in a few Lovecraft references. "Shackled To The Trilithon Of Kutuku" from the 2006 album 'The Cthonic Chronicles' reference Cthulhu and R'lyeh directly.
“Give forth Thy sign that I may know Thy will upon the earth…”
“Grant me the power to still the waves that I may hear Thy call.”
“In His house at R’lyeh, dead Cthulhu waits dreaming.”
“Yet He shall rise, and His kingdom shall cover the earth!”
Black Moon Broods Over Lemuria (1994) contains the instrumental "Hatheg Kla" from "The Other Gods" (1921), and 'The Cthonic Chronicles contains many references to Lovecraft, including the final song, 'Return to Hatheg-Kla'.
7. At The Mountains Of Madness - Necrodeath
From their 1987 album "Into The Macabre", 'At The Mountains Of Madness' refers to the story of the same name (1931).
"The flight toward the dead begins
A vast tableland appears
The Ancient begins charm my soul
Enter new world of fear
Hide or die in the abyss way
They're bounded in a cage of stone
Seeking safety in flight
The visions from Necronomicon
Ways of salvation are open wide"
From the same album, "The Flag Of Inverted Cross" recited a formula from "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward" (1927)
“Sauthenerom” mentions Yog-Sothoth, Hastur, Nyarlathotep, and Kadath.
8. Age Of Agony - Mekong Delta
Mekong Delta's 1988 album "The Music Of Erich Zann is a concept album from the story of the same name (1922).
"Who composed all this themes
that pursue me in dreams?
Messengers of downfall
(5th dimension nightmare)
(Age of agony)
(Death from the Rue d'Auseil)"
9. The Elder Race - Dream Death
Dream Death's only Lovecraft inspired song, from their 1987 album 'Journey Into Mystery'.
"Look through the mystic door at the hidden depths
Which all men share
Long and hard was the war when man usurped the
Last to fall the serpent men, driven into the waste
and left to die
They returned as priests of their evil cult in human
10. Re-Animator - Rigor Mortis (Dallas/Fort Worth Texas) (Not to be confused with the 12 other heavy metal bands called Rigor Mortis and the one band called 'The Rigor Mortis'.)
From their 1988 self-titled album, this track is probably based more on the 1985 Stuart Gordon movie, rather than the 1922 story "Herbert West—Reanimator".
11. Nocturnal Fear - Celtic Frost
From their 1984 ep "Morbid Tales", 'Nocturnal Fear' is a mash of images, containing a Lovecraft reference to Azathoth
"The sleeping lord awakes
Tiamat pulls on her chains
The blind phantom rages
Vibrations at the black ethers edge
As nocturnal fear penetrates the land
Ecstatical celebrations at their zenith
The seven sharpen their claws"
The 1985 ep "Emperor's Return" contains a lyrical reference to Yog-Sothoth on the track "Morbid Tales".
"Agony and nightmare
To Yog sothoth they moan
Nightfalls, morbid affair
Beard the faceless one"
12. White Ship - Solitude Aeturnus
From their 1991 album "Into the Depths of Sorrow", 'White Ship' channels the Lovecraft story (1919) of the same name.
"I was but a traveler
Floating endless through the sea
On the other side of knowledge
Through the pliancy of dreams
And voices there upon the ship
Spoke of radiant place's splendor
Beautiful shores with sands of gold
Wherein exists no torment or pain"
13. Stranger Aeons - Entombed
From their 1991 album, "Clandestine", the track 'Stranger Aeons' contains a twist on the infamous couplet quoted above.
"Stranger things that eternal lie
awaiting beyond the time to die"
14. The Horror of Yig - GWAR
From their 1990 album, "Scumdogs of the Universe", 'The Horror of Yig' references the 1928 story "The Curse of Yig". But, in typical GWAR style, the whole thing is a bizarre fancy-dressed comic metal-opera.
"I saw Yig. Yig saw me.
We're together in dark concavity.
I saw Yig. He's so big. He smokes cigs.
Eats just like a pig.
Ooooohhhhhh! I saw Yig. I saw Yig. I saw, I saw Yig!
Yig now is shifting his gibbering mass.
He hides boils with maggots.
The pus-sac extrudes.
The horror that is Yig..."
15. Lord Of All Fevers and Plague - Morbid Angel
Morbid Angel seem to eat, breathe and shit Lovecraft throughout their career. Nearly every album has some reference to luminaries in the Cthulhu Mythos. While it is apparent that their major source of inspiration is the Simon Edition of 'The Necronomicon' rather than primary Lovecraft sources, they make up for this by referencing Simon's Necronomicon nearly any chance they can get. Their guitarist, Azagthoth, even took his name from the Cthulhu Mythos. "Lord Of All Fevers and Plague" from their debut album "Altars of Madness" (1989) contains a Cthulhu-esque chant...
"Ia iak sakkakh iak sakkakth
Ia kingu ia cthulu ia azbul
"Blessed Are The Sick" (1991) song "Unholy Blasphemies" mentions Yog-Sothoth. "The Ancient Ones" mentions 'Kutulu'. "Covenant (1993) song "Angel Of Disease" references Shub Niggurath and Kutulu. "Sworn To The Black" mentions the Ancient Ones. "Formulas Fatal To The Flesh" (1998) track "Heaving Earth" mentions "Cthhuhlhu". "Prayer Of Hatred" mentions the Ancient Ones. "Umulamahri" mentions Chthhulhu. "Hellspawn: The Rebirth" mentions Cthulhu. "Prayer Of Hatred" is a blessing to the Ancient Ones. There are many references to Simon's 'The Necronomicon' that can't be traces back to primary Lovecraft stories, but top points for keeping in the spirit of things.
16. The Unknown Kadath In The Cold Waste - Thergothon
From the 1994 album "Stream From The Heavens", 'The Unknown Kadath In The Cold Waste' references "The Dream-Quest Of Unknown Kadath" in the title and evokes a Lovecraftian atmosphere, complete with a piping flute...
"Colossal towers far in the horizon
a reflection from the dark past
a shadow from the Time before time
a memory of a divine dominion
distant piping of a cosmic flute
a hymn so high, a sound so strange
almost able to be heard
voices from the Outside"
Thergothon's 1991 demo, "Fhtagn-nagh Yog-Sothoth", contains the following songs. "Elemental" which more or less accurately quotes the famous couplet mentioned above, and attributes the quote to the Mad Arab 'Abdul Alhazred', author of the Necronomicon.
"Evoken" finishes with:
"NOW THE GATES ARE OPEN FOR YOG-SOTHOTH".
"Yet The Watchers Guard" has the lyrics:
"THE REALM OF WIND AND THE DARKENED DEITIES
THE BLACK GOAT OF THE WOODS WITH THE THOUSAND YOUNG" a reference to Shub-Niggurath.
"The Twilight Fade" evokes images of the Old Ones in their undersea imprisonment, without actually naming any particular Cthulhu Mythos entity.
17. Evilized - Tiamat
From their debut album "Sumerian Cry" (1990), "Evilized" mentions alignments of stars, a classic Lovecraftian concept.
"When the stars are right
They will rise from the sea
Creatures from out of time
Creatures out of mind"
Their single "A Winter Shadow" released the same year contains the following quote...
"A shadow out of time
Hidden between different spheres"
referencing "The Shadow Out Of Time" (pub. 1936).
Their 1991 album, "The Astral Sleep" contains "Sumerian Cry (Part 3)" with a reference to Abdul Alhazred and the Ancient Ones.
18. Breath Of Centuries - Vader
From their 1992 album "The Ultimate Incantation", 'Breath Of Centuries also quotes the famous Lovecraft couplet, as well as evoking images of Sunken R'lyeh...
"Buried in the frozen seas,
Tombs of forgotten Gods,
Who came forth from blackened stars,
A breath of centuries here.
A different, inconceivable cult,
Shreds of the eternal, endless Circle,
Gates to Hell for chosen ones,
Awake from morality."
From the same album, 'Dark Age' mentions the Edler Race from beyond the stars. 'Testimony' quotes the Simon 'Necronomicon' and evokes Lovecraftian imagery...
"Conquer your fear - IA! ZI AZAG!
Chant incantation - IA! ZI AZKAK!
Call the ancient ones - IA! KHTULU ZI KUR!
Ready to rule the black earth once again - IA!"
Their 1990 demo "Morbid Reich" contains the demo version of 'Breath Of Centuries' as well as an instrumental entitled 'From Beyond'.
Their 1994 album "Sothis" contains an instrumental called 'R'lyeh'.
Vader credit the Simon 'Necronomicon' for lyrical inspiration on their 1995 album "De Profundis".
19. Cthulhu - Therion
From their 1992 album "Beyond Sanctorum", 'Cthulhu' even gets some lines attributed to him...
"My thoughts cry in this pit
I breed sorrows my thoughts for you"
On their 2004 album "Sirius B", the song 'Call of Dagon' references the 1917 story "Dagon".
"From a lonely star
Beyond the verge of universe
A sound is echoing
(A) call from another world
Lights from Sirius
Will take you from oblivion:
Dagon is here again."
20. Rise Of The Eldar Gods - NecronomicoN (Can)
"Rise Of The Elder Gods" is the title track from the 2013 album from Canadian band NecronomicoN, not to be confused with the German, Italian, Japanese or Kyrgyzstani bands of the same name, or even 'Necronomicon Beast' from Brazil. Which just highlights the popularity of the band name. The album also has a song called "From Beyond".
The band's demo featured all bar one songs influenced by Lovecraft.
Their first album/ep, "The Silver Key", contains more Lovecraft-inspired songs.
"The Silver Key" references Yog Sothoth.
"Morbid Ritual" references Azathoth.
"The Asylum" references Lovecraft's Arkham Asylum.
"Hunting Horror" and its origins are not clearly remembered by Rob the Witch (vocalist, guitarist), but is something to do with a Haunting Horror, a Lurker in the Dark and a church (I know, metal, right!).
"Cthonians" according to Rob "puts us in the context that tremors and earthquakes were related to wormy creatures who were living in the ground" (presumably Dholes, as mentioned in "Through the Gates of the Silver Key" (1932) by Lovecraft and E. Hoffman Price), and also contains the priceless expression "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh cthulhu r'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" which translates as "In his house at R'lyeh, dead Cthulhu waits dreaming." as explained in "The Call Of Cthulhu" (1926)
21. Dead But Dreaming - Deicide
From their 1992 album "Legion", mentions Elder Gods and uses the phrase 'Dead but Dreaming' commonly associated with the imprisoned Cthulhu.
"Hanging from their primal sleep
Forbidden to be seen
Spirit of the elder gods
Are dead but must live on
Still to life and yet they breathe
Dead but dreaming..."
The track "Dead By Dawn" from their self-titled 1990 debut album seems ripped straight from the Evil Dead movies.
"Book of the dead, pages bound in human flesh
Feasting the beast, from the blood the words were said
I am unseen, dreamt the sacred passage aloud
Trapped in a dream of the Necronomicon"
22. Necronomicon - Hypocrisy (Sweden)
From the 1993 album "Obsculum Obscenum", 'Necronomicon' is all about that most famous of Lovecraftian insanity-inducing tomes.
23. Weird Tales - Electric Frost-Golgotha-Altar Of Melektaus - Electric Wizard
From their epic 2000 album 'Dopethrone" this 15 minute track drips with Lovecraftian imagery and mythos, from Yuggoth ("The Whisperer in Darkness", 1931) to Kadath. ("The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath", 1926-7)
"From ancient Yuggoth, black rays emit
Evils narcotic cyclopean pits
In dark babelian towers await
Lie dreaming until the time will awake
What man has seen unknown Kadath
Whose dreamy angles, confused and trapped
Beyond the frozen waste you will find
Hyperborean continent entombed from time
From ancient Yuggoth, black rays emit
Evils narcotic cyclopean pits
In dark babelian towers await
Lie dreaming until the time will awake, yeah"
Their 1998 ep "Supercoven" has 2 epic tracks. The title track is explicitly Lovecraftian...
"Black sun master
Under starless sky
Black stone altar
They pray to the sign
The old ones were
And they shall be again
Yog Sothoth is the gate
Planetary alignment predicts their reign
Have awakened the Ancient Ones
Mindless slaves to the black god
Moan dark hymns to the sun
To the sun"
Their 2002 album "Let Us Prey" contains the track 'The Outsider', (The Outsider, 1921)
Their 2004 album "We Live" contains the track 'The Sun Has Turned To Black' referencing The Old Ones.
24. Rite of Cthulhu - Samael (instrumental)
25. From Beyond - Massacre
The title track from this 1991 album references the story "From Beyond" (1920) in name and theme, without actually referencing any mythos creatures directly.
"Horror beyond description
Unnatural bizarre fear
Altered and disfigured
A strange macabre terror
Through the ultra-violet
From the bottom of creation
Past the cosmic barriers
Into this world...From Beyond!"
""Dawn of Eternity" and "Symbolic Immortality" from the same album also evoke Lovecraft themes without actually quoting Lovecraft or referencing Mythos creatures.
26. The Mad Arab - Mercyful Fate
From the 1994 album "Time", 'The Mad Arab (Part One: The Vision) is about 'Abdul Alhazred.'
"The son of a shepherd, Abdul Alhazred
Shivering he saw Them coming, the mountain's evil priests
Black robes came together, around the floating rock
3 symbols in the dark"
Their 1996 album "Into The Unknown" contains the track 'Kutulu (The Mad Arab Part Two)', obviously continuing the story of Abdul Alhazerd.
"Can you hear the voices in my head...
Can you hear the voices in my head
Can you hear the voices, what they say?
Hear me as KUTULU raises his EVIL head
Drooling for my soul
I must finish this book tonight
Tomorrow...I might be of the dead"
27. Revelations Of Glaaki - Twin Obscenity (Instrumental)
The Revelations of Glaaki reference a series of 12 books mentioned in a post-Lovecraft story "The Inhabitant of the Lake" (1964) by Ramsey Campbell.
28. Entranced - Disincarnate
From their solitary 1993 album "Dreams of the Carrion Kind", the lyrics are distinctly drawn from "The Tomb" (1917)
"Ancestral home in the twilight deeps
Beckons to me with unseen fingers
Calling to me from this dark charnel house
Corrupted through lifelong seclusion
Driven by an unnatural force
Drawn to this vault
Declivity where the light reaches not
Enigmatic crypt of my bloodline
Place of ancestral remains
Temple of my fascination
Compare this extract from "The Tomb"
"...Close by my home there lies a singular wooded hollow, in whose twilight deeps I spent most of my time; reading, thinking, and dreaming. Down its moss-covered slopes my first steps of infancy were taken, and around its grotesquely gnarled oak trees my first fancies of boyhood were woven. Well did I come to know the presiding dryads of those trees, and often have I watched their wild dances in the struggling beams of a waning moon—but of these things I must not now speak. I will tell only of the lone tomb in the darkest of the hillside thickets; the deserted tomb of the Hydes, an old and exalted family whose last direct descendant had been laid within its black recesses many decades before my birth.
The vault to which I refer is of ancient granite, weathered and discoloured by the mists and dampness of generations. Excavated back into the hillside, the structure is visible only at the entrance. The door, a ponderous and forbidding slab of stone, hangs upon rusted iron hinges, and is fastened ajar in a queerly sinister way by means of heavy iron chains and padlocks, according to a gruesome fashion of half a century ago. The abode of the race whose scions are here inurned had once crowned the declivity which holds the tomb, but had long since fallen victim to the flames which sprang up from a disastrous stroke of lightning. Of the midnight storm which destroyed this gloomy mansion, the older inhabitants of the region sometimes speak in hushed and uneasy voices; alluding to what they call “divine wrath” in a manner that in later years vaguely increased the always strong fascination which I felt for the forest-darkened sepulchre. One man only had perished in the fire. When the last of the Hydes was buried in this place of shade and stillness, the sad urnful of ashes had come from a distant land; to which the family had repaired when the mansion burned down. No one remains to lay flowers before the granite portal, and few care to brave the depressing shadows which seem to linger strangely about the water-worn stones."
29. Von Unaussprechlichen Kulten - Nile
Nile are essentially an Egyptian-themed technical death metal band, but they have dropped in the occasional Lovecraft-inspired tracks. "Von Unaussprechlichen Kulten" from their 2005 album "Annihilation of the Wicked" is based upon a Mythos book 'Unaussprechlichen Kulten' first mentioned in Robert E. Howard's stories "The Children of the Night" (1931) and "The Black Stone" (1931) and later mentioned in several Lovecraft stories, thus becoming an additional dread tome in the Mythos.
"I await the day
When the claws of doom shall rise
To drag down in their reeking talons
The weary and hopeless remnants
Of a jaded, decayed, war-despairing mankind
Of a day, when the earth shall open wide
And the black, bottomless, yawning abyss
Engulfs the arrogant civilizations of man
Chthonic retribution shall ascend
Amidst universal pandemonium
And those who slither and crawl shall rise again
Once more to inherit the earth"
From their 1998 album "Amongst the Catacombs of Nephren-Ka", a couple of Lovecraft-inspired tracks appear. "Barra Edinazzu" appears in the form of a spell from the Necrononicon. "Beneath Eternal Oceans of Sand" references "The Outsider" (1921)
"Now I ride with the undead
Across the night-sky
And play by day
Amongst the catacombs of Nephren-Ka
In the sealed and unknown
Valley of Hadoth by the Nile."
"Now I ride with the mocking and friendly ghouls on the night-wind, and play by day amongst the catacombs of Nephren-Ka in the sealed and unknown valley of Hadoth by the Nile. I know that light is not for me, save that of the moon over the rock tombs of Neb, nor any gaiety save the unnamed feasts of Nitokris beneath the Great Pyramid; yet in my new wildness and freedom I almost welcome the bitterness of alienage." (from 'The Outsider')
From their 2000 album "Black Seeds of Vengeance", The Nameless City of the Accursed", an instrumental is, according to the album notes, based on "The Nameless City" (1921).
30. In the Depths of R'lyeh - Catacombs (US)
From the 2006 album of the same name, 'In the Depths of R'lyeh' clearly references Lovecraft.
"He who sleeps, ageless, out of time
Awakens now from restless sleep
Stirring from the depths of his aqueous tomb
At the sound of the gathering
Of the neophytese of doom
Chants in unknown tongues
Echoes through accursed halls
The great eyes open...
The very cosmos shudder
At the awakening of the ungod
Arising from the watery chasm
As his acolytes of doom
Lurch forth from ebbing tides
As the world's doom
Arises from the deep
And they chant...
Ja! Ja! Cthulhu Ftaghu!"
I am heavily indebted to the book "The Strange Sound of Cthulhu" by Gary Hill in compiling the information above. Chapters 4 and 5, dealing exclusively with Heavy Metal music. These chapters directed me to about half a dozen songs that appear in this list that I was previously unaware of, as well as providing most of the information regarding the exact references drawn from the tracks, saving me a great deal of research. Several of the songs here appear after this book was published (in 2006). These chapters contain much more metal than I could possibly fit into a few hours on a radio show. Do check it out, it is a treasure trove! And not just for lovers of Heavy Metal music either...
Further research on my part was done through sites mentioned below.
The Strange Sound of Cthulhu Music Inspired by the Writings of H. P. Lovecraft by Gary Hill.
The Simon Edition of 'The Necronomicon' for shits and giggles
The Necronomicon (1978) edited by George Hay (introduced by Colin Wilson)
http://www.hplovecraft.com/popcult/music.aspx for more music references.
http://www.hplovecraft.com/writings/fiction/ for online copies of Lovecraft's stories.
Encyclopedia Metallum as always for band bios, discographies, lyrics, and so much more.
Cthulhu Wiki The Cthulhu Wiki
Wikipedia, as a last call cross-reference