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Goblin (Rock): Contamination

Album Notes

Although they are best known for their work with director Dario Argento, the prog metal soundtrack mavens in Goblin supplemented their income by cranking out scores for other Italian filmmakers on the side. A good example is Contamination, a 1980 score for a rather silly ripoff of Alien by director Luigi Cozzi. Although it contains flashes of the prog metal genius that defined scores like Suspiria and Profondo Rosso, Contamination feels like it was hastily slapped together. It eschews the complex melodies that pervade their work with Argento in favor of minimalist themes with short running times (indeed, most of the tracks are in the two to three minute range). Contamination further differs from the usual Goblin style by downplaying the band's love of electric guitar and lush production in favor of bare-bones arrangements dominated by synthesizers. Sometimes this works in the band's favor (the taut, atmospheric "Time Is On"), but it works against the band just as often ("Flood" is burdened with some corny, sci-fi synthesizer washes). Goblin also gives itself over to a penchant for bland jazz-rock on filler tracks like "Bikini Island" and "Pillage." Despite these problems, there are still enough solid, atmospheric moments for the patient listener: "Connexion" updates the group's gothic hard rock sound with judiciously timed bursts of programmed synthesizer, and "Withy"" effectively builds from a subtle blend of rhythm guitar and keyboard shadings to a spooky march-styled crescendo layered with spooky organ riffs. Another standout is "Quiet Drops," a surprisingly mellow and moody track built on a delicate piano melody. In the end, Contamination has enough memorable moments for Goblin fanatics, but the novice listener would be better off checking out Suspiria or Profondo Rosso. Collector's note: Cinevox reissued this album in 2001 with five bonus tracks, all alternate versions of tracks from the album. ~ Donald A. Guarisco


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