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Superior to "White1" and sounding like it really means business, this album revels in taking the Sunn0))) drone concept to its farthest limit. The grand declaration of war sounds off in opener "Hell-O)))-Ween", a series of monumental twisty-turning guitar riffs that are actually very restrained and not at all scary. The weather changes in "bassAliens" - the withdrawn guitar scrapings bring up a dark chilly feeling and the space embracing the piece seems cold and damp. Guitar tones suggest raindrops and drones hint at mists and grey clouds drifting toward us; as the track progesses, choppy textures herald harsh winds and other disturbances in the atmosphere and beyond.
Pride of place though goes to "Decay2 [Nihil's Maw]" on which Sunn0))) men Greg Anderson and Stephen O'Malley lead their guests Rex Ritter, Joe Preston and Dawn Smithson through a bleak and windswept post-apocalyptic desert soundscape. Out of this desolation arises Attila Csihar, a prophet-shaman recently returned from the world of the dead, to utter despairing lyrics derived from the ancient Indian Vedas scriptures: they warn of the Age of Kali or Kali-yuga whose denizens' worship of materialism, worldly success and superficiality is frighteningly much like ours and whose decline and destruction surely portend our own civilisation's decay and death. Csihar's guttural sermons, dry and unemotional and conveying the impassive nature of the Hindu gods, sure do pack an almighty punch and the Sunn0)))-led musicians are wise to provide minimal backing only. Taking Csihar on board was a master-stroke and he has indeed acquitted himself well in live performances with the band.
I wrote an original version of this review for The Sound Projector (Issue 13) in 2005; that issue is now out of print and no soft copy exists as far as I know.
Sunn O))), the weird-named band duo that has brought the genre "drone doom" to the wide masses (sort of). The genre name says it all, long slow songs that drone on and on to put you in a trance that invokes a feeling of doom. The music Sunn O))) creates lives up both to the "drone" and the "doom" and does so by using two down-tuned guitars, distortion, 3-4 chords and a lot of sub-bass.
This is Sunn O)))'s 5th full-length and the second one in the "White"-series that has introduced more experimentation into Sunn O)))'s music. The first "White" introduced bizarre spoken-word and drum machines and this "White" introduces an ambient experimental bass track and Atilla Csihar (of Mayhem).
Since this album is only 3 songs long and all tracks differ in style, I believe a song-by-song review is needed to fully explain the album.
The album starts nicely with "HELL-O)))-WEEN", a whole track filled with sub-bass drone riffing, typical for Sunn O))). The song evokes images of a dark night when the world ends. Not bad for just 4 chords on two down-tuned guitars. At 8 minutes the song goes into a long one chord "drone jam", with Stephen and Greg hitting the chord randomly with a lot of sub-bass in the background, and it’s awesome! Just when I’ve had enough the guitar goes out and all that’s left is a huge sub-base note crushing my brain into tiny fragments. Then suddenly the song ends. It has a perfect length for a drone song, around 14 minutes.
Then it’s time for some mysterious bass-generated ambience with "bassAliens". Essentially the song is a huge amount off basses fucking around, doing every strange sound managable on a bass and a creepy guitar line in the background. Dark and mysterious. The first things that comes into my mind are images of aliens asleep in the dark at Area 51, or... are all really asleep? I hear something crawling in the background... Great atmosphere.
The song should have ended at about the 18 minute mark, when there are some "farting noises" on one bass, like when you take the cord out and fucks around with it in the cord-opening of the guitar. Which means just random noise and not even good noise and very high in the mix. That bit ruins the whole atmosphere. Otherwise it’s a creepy and gloomy track which is really good until the "farting noises" which carries on throughout the rest of the song.
If we were in a dark night as the world begun to end in "HELL-O)))-WEEN" and in Area 51 as the aliens awoke to take over the world in "bassAliens" then "Decay2 [Nihil's Maw]" is when hell has arisen on Earth as it proclaims it's eternal reign.
The condemned spirits are free and screaming, the Nazgûls from Lord of the Rings makes a guest appearance and of course there's Attila Csihar, sounding like Lucifer himself as he commands our world which now is his. This track differs a lot from the others in the fact that it focuses on vocals, or to say it with a more suitable word, the voices, as they scream and sigh like ghosts and wild spirits. The music backing this nightmare are guitars droning and a bass rumbling, with only about two notes and no chords hit at all. But it's the atmosphere that counts with this kind of music, not the musicianship or the compositions or the riff, but the atmosphere and the darkness that it creates.
Stephen O'Malley and Greg Anderson certainly doesn't play the fastest music, the heaviest music or the most technical music, but it doesn't matter since all that matters are feelings created by the atmosphere of the music. I can go on and on writing that this is dark as a pitch-black night in a buried coffin and such, but I won't, I will leave it up to you to decide if you are interested in this kind of music and if you are I will urge you to listen. Listen please, it's just one hour of your life...
This is actually a very good and horror-filled album, perfect mood music. I recommend it to any fan of drone doom that doesn’t have it already and to everyone prepared for a dark and sinister journey without a light in the end of the tunnel.
I give it 85% with a lot of minus points to the ending of "bassAliens".
i've heard a lot about this band- everyone has. Super low tuned guitars, very slow tempos blah blah blah. So not knowing quite what to expect, I bought this album on a whim and went home, cranked the bass and played this album. This album, and indeed this band has a big gift at dividing people. You either love it or you hate it. Well, I'm somewhere in the middle. I don't think this album licks anus, and while I can see that it is indeed fairly awesome art, It's a bit too long (just a little bit!) and a bit too inaccessible for me. Anyway, onto the songs.
The first song is guaranteed to give you a big headache. This is the typical Sunn O))) sound, as far as I can tell. Extremely slow, full of simple, very heavy riffs that go on for all of eternity. It is pretty good, probably the best track on the album. While it is undeniably heavy, there's also (particurlarly in the last 7 minutes) a big warm, trance like thing to it, as one super heavy note just drones on and on. It's kinda comforting in an odd way. It sounds so primal, so ancient. This is music that sounds like continents shifting.. I know that metaphor has been used very often, but it is indeed like that.
BassAliens, the second song, is nothing like the first. It's a very ambient, experimental track that's fairly enjoyable, if a little bit too long. The 23 minutes could fit in 15 minutes and it would be all the better. Eventually a spooky clean guitar gets into the mix, and this is where the song's at it's best. Strange, eerie samples and some super low bass sounds float around the mix too. There's a really good atmosphere here, but I think it couldve been put to better use. (Put the first song on top of it!) Still, a good track,
Decay2 is also really long. It's got a really ambient touch, but more evil then BassAliens, in fact much more evil. That's really helped by the spine chilling chants done by Attila Chisar. Hearing they had got a black metal singer on board sounded like a very bad idea too me, but luckily there's not much in the way of black metal shrieks here, just lots of really evil chants, surronded by strange, pulsing guitars and synths that go on forever. At about the 20 minute mark, a bit of lush, pulsing synths start to break through, and there's a brief moment of sun before the darkness comes rushing back in. Good move there boys.
This is strange, deep music, that I have no idea about and you probably don't either. The structures (or rather, the lack of them) are completely alien to my ears,the tempos unbelievably slow.. Basically, this is something that I've never experienced before. Still, I'd recommend this to people who are looking for really, really strange music or people who aren't afraid of a challenge. You should buy it.. but you have been warned.
Heed the review title. With my recent foray into the genres such as the likes of drone and funeral doom metal, this is becoming more and more appealing to me. I can't explain why this is so good, it's just so titanic, gigantic, and utterly monstrous that you can't even begin to comprehend it without listening. This is so spleen-rupturingly heavy, that you'll have nightmares about it 5 years from when you first listen to it.
I'm about halfway into HELL-O)))-WEEN right now, on my second listen. I have a fucking huge stomachache, and something tells me it won't be going away for a long time. The purpose of this band is to create such low frequency sounds, that you shit yourself unnecessarily. And by George, I think they've done it! Each "song" contains one main riff that is repeated. Again. And again. And again even. It's so minimal; a progressive band can fit as many goddamn time changes and tech riffs into their songs as they want, but as soon as a band is as bowel-destroyingly low as this. You can hardly tell the band's albums apart, except the very interesting and strange noise tracks on Flight of the Behemoth and a few other exception (My Wall, for example), so the rating can stand for each one. But, holy DAMN is this heavy. If anyone likes noise, drone, doom, stoner, or anything, or just likes to chill out or whatever, get anything by this band, including this album. Oh, and Attilla does some fucked up vocals on DECAY2 which are so fucking weird, you just need to get this to hear them. Check it.