Italian Prog-Horror Maestros Come To Berkeley

By Dave Pehling

BERKELEY (CBS SF) — Best known for their haunting ’70s soundtracks used in the films of gory giallo director Dario Argento, Italian progressive-rock outfit Goblin presents an evening of terrifying music when their Sounds of Fear Tour comes to Berkeley’s UC Theatre Friday.

Initially working under the monikers Oliver and Cherry Five after being founded by guitarist Massimo Morante and keyboardist Claudio Simonetti in 1972, the band got its start emulating the bombastic sounds of British bands Yes, King Crimson and Genesis. At one point while visiting England, noted Yes producer Eddie Offord heard their early demos and actually expressed interest in the group, but nothing came of it.

Goblin didn’t truly take flight until it was commissioned to score director Dario Argento’s 1975 bloody masterwork Profondo Rosso (aka Deep Red). The atmospheric menace of the soundtrack — especially keyboardist Simonetti’s syncopated synth melody and gothic church organ on the indelible title theme — established Goblin as Argento’s go-to collaborators on films that would follow including the equally groundbreaking SuspiriaTenebre and Phenomena.

The notoriety of the band’s work with Argento also led the band to connecting with George A. Romero on his famed 1978 zombie apocalypse sequel Dawn of the Dead. While infighting between members would hampered the band as the ’80s progressed, its mix of foreboding ambiance, sinewy Lalo Schifrin-style jazz-funk, and creepy wordless vocals found an audience among record collectors and horror-film fans in the decades since.

After over two decades apart, the Goblin principles reunited to work with Argento on his 2001 film Non Ho Sonno only to disband for much of the 2000s. A reunited lineup featuring Simonetti, Morante, and keyboard player Maurizio Guarini came together to perform Goblin’s uneasy-listening hits on the band’s first-ever U.S. tour in 2013, but even the rave reviews and packed houses of that successful jaunt could not keep the members together as Simonettii departed to found his own splinter version of the group.

The current edition of Goblin featuring founding guitarist Morante with classic-era members Maurizio Guarini (keyboards), Fabio Pignatelli (bass) and Agostino Marangolo (drums) has been busy in recent years, recording a new studio album — 2015’s Four of a Kind — and releasing Austinato, a live CD/DVD documenting the band’s 2014 appearance in Austin, TX. Goblin comes back to the Bay Area for the first time in three years when the group takes the stage at the UC Theatre Friday night for some post-Halloween haunting. Local prog favorites Mondo Drag, who deliver keyboard-heavy hard rock that hearkens back to Uriah Heap and Deep Purple on their latest album The Occultation of Light, will open the show.

Goblin with Mondo Drag
Friday, Nov. 3, 8 p.m.
UC Theatre

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