So, yes, Flavorpill HQ is located in NYC, and yes, we weathered the stormpocalypse and came out the other side. Happy days. It looks like the world isn’t going to end — or not today, at least. But shit, even if it does, we’re gonna keep posting until the end times are upon us, and when they are, we’re gonna need something to listen to. So here’s a selection of the best apocalyptic songs that music has to offer, with plenty in the way of biblical storm imagery and general portentousness. Here’s to hoping everyone out there is OK.
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds — “Tupelo”
A-LOOK-A YONDER! A BIG BLACK CLOUD COME!
Godspeed You! Black Emperor — “Storm”
Twenty-two minutes of slow-building apocalyptic noise, centered around the motif of a biblical storm? Sure, that’ll do nicely.
David Bowie — “Five Years”
The first track from The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars sets the scene for the apocalyptic fable that’s to follow, relating the story of a planet that’s living out a five-year countdown to destruction: “News guy wept and told us earth was really dying,” Bowie sang, “[He] cried so much his face was wet… then I knew he was not lying.” Sadly, we haven’t got five years — if the weather forecast is to be believed, we’ve got about five minutes, so finish that milkshake, eh?
Tom Waits — “Earth Died Screaming”
Waits sings of a hellish, McCarthy-esque post-apocalyptic wasteland, a place where you end up where “hell doesn’t want you and heaven is full”, a place where he sits drinking out of a skull and watching “crows as big as aeroplanes” and a three-headed lion. But curiously, for all its nightmarish imagery, this is the unlikeliest of love songs, based around the conceit that the world is ending, but Tom isn’t especially bothered — “Well the earth died screaming/ While I laid dreaming/ Dreaming of you…”
Black Sabbath — “Black Sabbath”
The song that invented an entire genre. Ozzy Osbourne’s, um, idiosyncratic lyrics undermine the atmosphere a little — “Satan’s coming round the bend/ People running ’cause they’re scared” — but the evil-sounding tritone riff and general air of impending destruction still make it a shoo-in for any self-respecting end-of-the-world playlist.
White Noise — “The Black Mass (An Electric Storm in Hell)”
Startlingly ahead of its time, this terrifying eight-minute epic still sounds like the end of the world, nearly half a century after it was released. God only knows what it sounded like on heavy-duty acid in 1968.
Prince Rama — “So Destroyed”
We’ll speak more of the new Prince Rama album in days to come (assuming we’re not all holed up in the basement, drinking rainwater out of a single grubby plastic bowl and beating off bestial looters with our copy of Infinite Jest), but for now let’s just say that it’s a concept album about the end of the world, and that if the apocalypse is coming, we might as well greet it with Brooklyn hippie aerobics music and get in one last session of bikram yoga as the world burns.
King Crimson — “Epitaph”
Portentous drum rolls, elegiac melodies, and a lyric that discusses a (nuclear?) holocaust laying waste to civilization. The line about mankind’s fate being in the hands of fools seems a particularly apposite one to bear in mind as you watch the Frankenstorm roll in and ponder the fact that global warming didn’t get mentioned once in three presidential debates.
The Doors — “The End”
Say what you like about Jim Morrison’s Rimbaud-in-a-leather-jacket schtick — we’ve actually always thought his lyricism works well enough in the confines of a song, although no-one should ever be subjected to his Vogon-esque poetry — this song still has apocalyptic atmosphere in spades.
Pixies — “Stormy Weather”
It is time for stormy weather? Why, yes. Yes, it is.