The Black Mass

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The Black Mass: Electric Storm in Hell is the last track of the album An Electric Storm.

Someone said [this] was the most frightening thing they had ever heard. ... From the moment it started it made my scalp tickle, and the long, slow descent into screams and cries can even make someone listening to it stone-cold sober think they really had seen a glimpse of Hell!".
   -- sarah16907 reviewing on

Ein apokalypischer Jam.
   -- kk

The track owes no small debt to Pink Floyd's “Saucerful of Secrets” from the album of the same name, or the album “The United States of America”, both from 1968, but there is no doubt that “Black Mass” goes much further and is infinitely darker.[1]

Achieves its ferocity without guitars although the group did rely on a thundering phased drum kit to hold together those sounds of screaming souls being struck by lightning in a godless void.[2]

We got through about three quarters of the album in a year and then we got an abrupt letter from them [Island records] saying that unless we receive this album within ten days they were going to take action to recover the money advanced. Right! We'll give it to you in a day! We'll finish it tonight! So the last track using half of the second side we mutually didn't want to make. I just put together a drum loop and got a friend of mine Paul Lytton [to] come and play drums to the loop to pull the whole thing out and this became the Hell track and we just got every freaky, nasty sound we could find and started screaming our heads off over the top and tearing people to bits. We delivered it the next day and there you have it."
   -- David Vorhaus in the Macdonald interview

Part of it is played during the invocation scene in the film Dracula AD 1972, of which the book Hammer film scores and the musical avant-garde by David Huckvale says on p.160:

The next diegetic music wasn't scored by Vickers either. It occurs during the extended Black Mass scened in St. Bartolph's Church, and the action suggests that the teenagers play it on the reel-to-reel tape recorder they've brought along to the church to liven things up a little. However, when the reel of tape runs out the music errily continues, suggesting some other, supernatural origin of these disturbing sounds. The music was actually recorded by the cult electronic group the White Noise, brainchild of American musician David Vorhaus, who collaborated with the BBC Radiophonic Workshop's Delia Derbyshire [...] on an album called An Electric Storm, which was released in 1968. The last of the seven tracks on An Electric Storm, called “The Black Mass -- An Electric Storm in Hell,” was apparently the product of a single day's jam session. The result is a truly unnerving track that is the perfect accompaniment to Johnny Alucard's distinctly over-the-top Black Mass. In fact, this part of the soundtrack is the most contemporary musical element in the film, inspired, in part, by the example of the concept rock group Pink Floyd;

which is odd. I thought it was the other way round.


“Black Mass: An Electric Storm in Hell” begins with an evenly-paced, closely-discordant male chanting accompanied by a “cello”. An organ plays briefly, and then the drumming begins. The drumming fades in and begins to spin around, completely encapsulating the listener. Other electronic sounds come and go, tentatively at first, punctuating the drumming, itself becoming more frantic. Suddenly a voice bursts in, screaming across the stereo, before falling off into the distance. The drums continue and the voices keep coming, sometimes male, sometimes female. More gargled voices, and sounds, suggestive of people being thrown into an abyss, with “a clatter of freeform drums, cavernous echo and chilling, animalistic screams”.[3]


The PRS list of works by Delia Ann Derbyshire has:

Title: Black Mass
Writer(s): Derbyshire Delia Ann, Lytton Paul, Maurice David, Duncan Georgina, Hodgson Brian Garner, Vorhaus David Glyn
Publisher: Island Music Ltd
Work number: 1763905E 
Type: 00/90 [?]
Creation date: 1 January 1984


Title: The Black Mass An Electric Storm In Hell
Writer(s): Lytton, Paul Morris David; Duncan, Georgina; Hodgson, Brian Garner; Vorhaus, David Glyn
Publisher: Island Music Ltd Universal / Island Music Limited
Work number:  171993Q 
Type: 10/00 [?]


The Black Mass - Spectrogram.jpg


External links