Daughters, Canada Songs (Robotic Empire, 2003)
This album is "a," not "the," but "a" definition of pure madness. The frenetic guitar work that just pierces your head, the vocals of someone being strangled to death, the wubbly high-register bass tone—they all coalesce into this mesh of chaos in affordable, 30-second bursts. And the creeper lyrics in the closer, "The Ghost With the Most," during the buildup towards the end of the song ("I want to watch you undress through the keyhole...") are the shudder-worthy cherry on top.
Glenn Branca, The Ascension (99, 1981)
Pure claustrophobic noise. I put this on at work (in an office setting), and I've never seen an entire room put on headphones so fast all at once.
Health, Health (DNT/Lovepump United, 2007)
This one's a slow burn. It starts off on the slower side of things, then builds into spaced-out chaos. The drummer is one of my faves, too. If you ever wondered what pygmy clans in the distant future would dance around to ceremoniously, this record would be a great choice. "Tabloid Sores" is its own beast, though. The slow, hypnotic klaxon effect leading into the final screams of the track reminds one of the final scene in Event Horizon, after Sam Neill plucks his eyes out and he's standing in a corridor covered in blood. You are Laurence Fishburne.
The Red Chord, Fed Through the Teeth Machine (Metal Blade, 2009)
I hate metalcore. For some reason, these guys/this album have been called that. I'd say it's more death metal? So many subgenres. Either way, this album is a relentless assault on your face. So fast, so heavy, so mean. The track "Mouthful of Precious Stones" is a good example of what it'd be like to be chased by a giant troll, which is terrifying.
Fear Before the March of Flames, The Always Open Mouth (Equal Vision, 2006)
Fellow Denver-ites! This album is probably their magnum opus, in my opinion. From start to finish this album is full of bad vibes. The guitar work is all over the place: noisy, charging, melodic. In another light, some of the riffs could work in black metal. They do maintain the mathy, post-hardcore style of their older records on top of it all, which does add to the chaos. Also, the electronic aspect touches on the industrial side of things, something Trent Reznor could be proud of. Lyrically speaking, the record is rife with talk of demons, tapeworms, werewolves, cults, brainwashing governments, and a world full of people on drugs—all while maintaining the message that everything will not be alright. This album is fuq'd.
Pharmakon, Bestial Burden (Sacred Bones, 2014)
This album is probably one of the most harrowing, menacing pieces of music I've heard in a while. In cinematic terms, imagine a David Cronenberg movie (at his sci-fi/horror peak) following the story of a young woman whose body develops its own consciousness, away from her own will and intentions, and decides to "betray" her—shutting down crucial systems of her body. You take a concept like that (actually semi-autobiographical) and combine it with Margaret Chardiet's particular brand of industrial noise (rich with towering echos, tortured screams, and a pagan ritual sensibility) and you've got yourself a nice, compact package of aural horror. If I wasn't totally crushing on her, the album would only paralyze me with terror, rather than its current terror/arousal.
Fever Ray, Fever Ray (Mute/Rabid, 2009)
Speaking of musical crushes: Karin Dreijer Andersson from The Knife. Mmmhmmm. I'm definitely more of a fan of this solo record than her work with The Knife, which is also pretty good. But the atmospheres she creates with Fever Ray are so rich. It's perfect for donning that cloak and wafting incense in the basement. I went to a Halloween party this year where they were roasting a whole pig. I put this album on, and suddenly the party guests surrounding the pig, picking from it, realized the whole thing actually seemed pretty primitive. Kinda took away from the party vibe, but in a way it was kind of the most logical choice. The pig was delicious, by the way.
Primitive Man, Scorn (Mordgrimm/Relapse/Throatruiner, 2013)
This one should really just be, "Anything by Primitive Man." Probably the heaviest band in Denver. Every track on this album knows how to fill you with juuust the right amount of dread and terror. So much slow. So much doom. Their music videos are horrifying, too. The best part is that they're really some of the nicest dudes in town.
Tiny Tim, God Bless Tiny Tim (Reprise, 1968)
C'mon, it's Tiny Tim. If he doesn't freak you out, nothing will. I think I remember hearing this song on a SpongeBob episode.
White Mice, Blassstphlegmeice (Load, 2007)
Man, if I could re-live the early-2000s, I'd move to Providence, RI. That scene had so many rad bands come out of it: Daughters, Lightning Bolt, Six Finger Satellite, and these creeps: White Mice. Never got a chance to see 'em live, but I would imagine it'd be pretty visceral—what with their electronic, circuit-bending brand of noise-sludge—to go along with their blood-splattered, zombified mice costumes. God damnit, I need a time machine.