If you’re making a list of wildly imaginative, boundary-obliterating dark fiction novelists who have yet to receive their due respect, the name Scott Cole has to be very goddamn close to the top.
Not only is the Philadelphia-based graphic designer and writer a master of the brilliant, reality-refracting premise, he’s got a deft hand when it comes to execution as well. Seriously, you want to go down the rabbit hole? Like, for real? Pick up the delightfully deranged recent reissue of SuperGhost. (“When Dr. Rains assembles a giant ghost-monster from the phantom limbs he’s stolen from hundreds of amputees, the city is in for the most bizarre nightmare it’s ever seen!”) Or Triple Axe. (“A deranged killer is on the loose, targeting adult entertainers, and choking them to death with a weapon that leaves no trace of itself. When the authorities refuse to help Jesse and her two closest friends, the three women decide to take matters into their own hands . . . with axes.”) Or Slices: Tales of Bizarro and Absurdist Horror, which lives up to its title…and then some.
Cole is also, as Decibel gleaned following his various social media accounts, extremely extreme in his musical tastes. So we reached out to ask him for his heavy metal writing playlist. And, boy, did he not disappoint.
What follows is a tastefully curated splatter platter of straight up, no foolin’ 90s death metal to help kindle the darker parts of your imagination before picking up one or all of this dark scribe’s available work.
1. Carcass: “Corporal Jigsore Quandary”
One of my all-time favorite bands. Sure, like a lot of people, I was drawn in by the gore-collage cover art of Reek of Putrefaction and Symphonies of Sickness, not to mention the medical dictionary lyrics, but by the time Necroticism: Descanting the Insalubrious came out, we all knew they had really stepped up their game. That album is the real sweet spot of Carcass’ output as far as I’m concerned: Amazing compositions and incredible melodies with very little of their earlier work’s brutality compromised. Instead, it’s just perfectly refined.
2. Morbid Angel: “Fall From Grace”
When I heard Morbid Angel’s Altars of Madness album, I was equal parts excited and afraid. To my ears, it was absolutely terrifying, which was exactly the sort of thing I was after at the time. Then Blessed Are the Sick came out, and it instantly became my favorite album of that moment in time. Hearing references to H.P. Lovecraft monsters comingling with Satan and his minions on top of that guitar work and David Vincent’s monstrous voice? Perfection.
3. Godflesh: “Mothra”
Godflesh was one of those bands that helped bridge the gaps between metal, industrial, and
electronic music — all of which I came to love. One day, as a teen, I was listening to the Pure album and my dad stopped into my room to ask if something was wrong with my stereo. That may have made me love Godflesh even more.
4. Death: “Suicide Machine”
The shredded-throat vocals, the time changes, the mashup of thrash/speed/prog elements…
What a ride!
5. Ministry: “Scarecrow”
My introduction to Ministry happened when a friend of a friend in high school was wearing one
of their shirts and I asked him what they sounded like. Anxious to spread the gospel, he loaned
me The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste, and I refused to give it back until I had acquired my own copy. Their next album, Psalm 69, from which “Scarecrow” is taken, was something I played constantly a couple years later.
6. Sepultura: “Territory”
Discovering Sepultura back in the day was exciting, for the simple fact that they brought their
own unique Brazilian flavor to a type of music I mostly knew from places like California and
7. Scorn: “Automata”
Mick Harris of Napalm Death fame began his Scorn project at a time when I was discovering
other forms of music than metal. This fusion of heavy electronics and dub with a toe dipped in
horror film score darkness was a perfect storm for me at that time, opening my ears to new
sounds, and this track remains a favorite now.
8. Skinny Puppy: “Tormentor”
Anyone who knows me well won’t be surprised I’m sneaking a Skinny Puppy track into this mix. They’re one of my absolute favorite bands of all time for their variety and inventiveness, not to mention their horror movie samples, and the visuals of their stage shows.
9. Obituary: “Killing Time”
As much as I loved the Cause of Death album, The End Complete had a fuller, richer sound and, through the years, I find myself going back to that one more and more. My favorite track changes every time I listen, but today it’s this one, and it’s all because of that riff.