The Music That Inspired “Empty”

Experience the music that kept my head in the properly disturbing sci-fi space


I’ve talked extensively about where the inspiration for horror comes from in the past, and a huge part of any story I craft is the music that drives the writing sessions. “Empty” is no exception.

This sci-fi/horror tale about a down on his luck engineer named Hansen was fueled both by personal experiences and by a steady stream of killer music that more of the world needs to know about.

These are the songs that not only played constantly during my writing sessions, but that work very well as a soundtrack to the book. You can actually listen to them all at this playlist.

With a story dealing with isolation and the sense of being separated from the herd, I’m hoping metal fans in particular will identify with “Empty.”


 “Oversee The Rebirth” – Augury

Man, we are so overdue for a new album from this Canadian technical/progressive death metal band. The “Fragmentary Evidence” album is all about various conspiracy theories, and this track always makes me think of floating out in space for for the opening two minutes and then something really bad happens when the heavy part with the harsh vocals arrives around 2:40. The sudden (and shocking) change of pace into unexpected violence is something I tried to nail in a certain segment of my book as well.

anathema“Distant Satellites” – Anathema

The only track on this playlist that isn’t strictly “metal,” Anathema nonetheless has strong roots in the metal scene, and this title track in particular really creates the feeling of being alone out in the darkness of the stars. This one’s a lot more low key and atmospheric, the perfect accompaniment to the downtime segments when things aren’t going horribly wrong for Hansen.

ihsahn“Heaven’s Black Sea” – Ihsahn

Former Emperor front man Ihsahn really came into his own after the demise of that iconic Norwegian black metal band, and “After” is really his flagship album. This one took the saxophone-meets-metal craze into new heights, and several songs on the album directly deal with celestial bodies and the void of space. What I love about this track is the way the repeating drum beat creates a clear picture, giving the impression of striding forth with purpose into the unknown.

stagnant“Algae” – Stagnant Waters

Oh boy, this one is not for the faint of heart. Stagnant Waters is very much on the extreme avant-garde end of the genre, experimenting with sounds well beyond even the bounds of the harshest of heavy metal. This is the soundtrack to a fracturing mind as awful things beyond its comprehension go on all around, making it the perfect accompaniment to every alien thing Hansen interacts with during the course of “Empty.”

blacklodge“NeutroN ShivA” – Blacklodge

Belonging to the industrial black metal sub-genre, Blacklodge destroys the typical notion of what black metal should sound like. The pummeling, constant beat of this track off the “Machination” album drove me on to dig deeper and seek out ever more horrifying things from the depths of the blackest void.

wither“Dying For The Sun” – Witherscape

A vastly different tone and sound than most of the previous tracks, Witherscape is a very different kind of metal from producer Dan Swano, mixing together equal parts melodic and abrasive. Keeping up with the same themes though, “Dying For The Sun” off debut album “The Inheritance” starts off mysterious and atmospheric before gradually giving way to the heavy darkness. If you like a strong balance of sounds and both harsh and clean vocals, do yourself a favor and pick this album up.

aborym“Across The Universe” – Aborym

Another industrial black metal band, Aborym presents its combo of those two styles in a much different way than Blacklodge, going for a dirtier and more raw sound on an album unsurprisingly titled “Dirty.” The little flashes of scratchy noise in the background give off a horror move vibe, while the very unexpected clean vocals throw the listener for a loop, keeping you off balance in more ways than one. There’s no solid ground to be found here.

neob“Painters of the Tempest (Part I): Wyrmholes” – Ne Obliviscaris

Hands down, Ne Obliviscaris is one of the best Australian bands in existence. The entire “Citadel” album is mind blowing from beginning to end, and it all starts here, with this track that brings out piano, synths, and incredibly off-kilter violins for a sound that draws you in and then actively disturbs you with its discordance. If I make people feel even 1/10th as uncomfortable with “Empty” as Ne Oblivscaris made me with this track, I will have done my job admirably.

dt“Inside The Particle Storm” – Dark Tranquillity

This long-running melodic death metal band has seen its ups and downs over the years, but this song always sticks with me for the way it builds up. When the vocals finally hit I can’t help but feel the hair on my arms rise up and tingle, and there’s something about it that just fills me with an epic sense of purpose. Throw in the science elements in the lyrics and the melodic interludes, and you’ve got a perfect track for either the action segments in “Empty” or those moments when Hansen has to make important choices.

dimm“Gateways” – Dimmu Borgir

For a long time there Dimmu Borgir was the king of symphonic black metal, and while the group takes a lot of flak these days from the elitists, there are still some gems to be found in more recent material. “Gateways” is a highlight track on latest album “Abrahadabra,” and the subject matter of things best left undisturbed wakening from ancient slumber fits the story well.


“Carcosa” – Saille

This Belgian symphonic black metal band is criminally unknown despite putting out some of the best material in that particular sub-genre in recent years. This track caps the “Eldritch” album with a violin and piano outro before ending with a bang as it all explodes into a chaotic, maddening frenzy. This is also a bit of a clue for the readers, as there’s some easter eggs throughout “Empty” that nod towards both real world science and the fictional mythos – see if you can find them all!

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