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To be honest I wish Sunn O))) did nothing but release live albums. If you've seen them live you'll agree that it's definitely the medium in which they excel, and they tend to do less retarded avant garde-ish stuff and more awesome guitar drone when they get the robes and amps out. It's surely not all that hard to record them live in good quality, either; it's not like they're this huge band with a massively complicated set up. Yep, live albums are the way Sunn's stuff should be heard (well, if you can't see them live) and this album is proof of that.
Admittedly the fact that it's on vinyl alone isn't too great (can't put a lot of sub-bass on that medium) but this is an excellent release regardless. It's Sunn at their simplest- deploying massive a-grade drones and riffs that are more cavemen and primitive then ever, and what a glorious racket it is. The theme of the album is reflected aptly in the tunes- from what I've read this was played in a cathedral, and inspired by the despair filled chants that originated from around the time of the black plague- and everything is suitably despair filled and hopeless and whatnot. The inspiration doesn't really filter down to the musical level -short of long sustained tones and a surprising tendency towards consonant intervals there's not really anything that sounds like a Gregorian chant. But I couldn't care less if the concept isn't genuine; Sunn O))) deliver some quality drone here and that's fine by me.
Whether it's Attila's howls (surprisingly in-tune howls, too- who knew this dude could actually sing?) over the droning organ of the first track, the massive, crunching riff of "Cannon"- easily the best Sunn riff ever, I'd say- or the many unsettling juxtaposition of churning electronics, guitar chaos and super long, meditative drones, this whole thing's quite the soundtrack to black plague. It's also unlike the previous marathon live records Sunn have done. Everything is relatively compact- well, none of it gets over 16 and a half minutes, which is a pretty ideal length of a drone tune.
This record isn't terribly complex on any level- the music is simple and there's no high minded statements to be made. And that's exactly what a drone record should be- it's a record that you put on and meditate/trip out/astral travel too. Nothing less, nothing more. This record is extremely good at that, and therefore I suggest you but it if you're a drone fan or looking to get into drone. Points off for the retarded vinyl fandom, though.