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This should be more than what it is - 70%

MasterOfDissonance, May 30th, 2014

One thing you can hold in Sunn's credit is that they have an incredibly monstrous tone. If the gravitational force of a black hole was somehow converted into sound, it still wouldn't be nearly as heavy as what Sunn somehow manage to unleash from their amps. From what I can tell, this is exactly what Sunn fans are drawn to, and indeed it's hard not to stop and admire Sunn's tone for the first few minutes you hear it. The problem for me is that this in itself is not something that can hold my interest for an entire hour, and it's not because I don't appreciate the concept of exploring overtones and sound layering as a point of interest in and of itself, it's just that what Sunn has here is one type of sound that stretches for over an hour and creates the sonic equivalent of a black picture over black background drawn on a black piece of paper; When there's no noteworthy contrast, the result is just a black mesh.

To be fair, Double Null Void does have riffs, but they are stretched for far longer than they are able to hold interest, and almost feel like an excuse for the guitar to play something. In fact, the last track actually has a segment where they just strum the same fucking chord for 10 minutes. I'm open minded about weird music, but I have to draw the line at strumming the same chord for 10 minutes, no matter how awe inspiring the guitar tone is. In the whole album, there's only one song where I feel the riff is really effective for the entire duration of the song, and that's the opening track "Richard": A chord is slowly bent, building up tension, and then smacks down with the reverberating might of exploding sunns. A few repeats of that, and we get a short doomy segue that leads back to the bent chord part. This doesn't sound like much, but there's something very satisfying in the way it builds up and then releases tension. Too bad the rest of the guitar work isn't that clever.

The album also has some occasional background sounds popping in. Unfortunately they are always buried in the mix, so they don't really enhance the music. As with the guitar work, "Richard" is for some reason an exception. There are a few parts in that song where a violin with lots of delay applied to it plays something very unstructured, resulting in an effect that is both harsh and halo-like, which contrasts with the main drone perfectly. But aside from Richard, the ambiance in this album is really under utilized. It actually took me a few listens to even notice Pete Stahl chanting in the background on the second track, and that short segment in Rabbits' Revenge where a woman sings while a cymbal is beaten to death is so short it feels like they didn't even want to include it there, and only did so because the original song (this track is a cover) had these kinds of breaks in the drone, so Sunn felt like they had to pay lip service to it.

The way the ambiance is handled in this album is very disappointing for me, because I feel that even with the drone's shortcomings it could still be a foundation for something really awesome, it just needs some sonic decoration to create interesting atmospheres around it, and the non-drony elements in this album are not even close to delivering on that potential. If you're enamored with the sound of drone so much that it is enough in and of itself for you to feel satisfied, then you will love this album, it's one of the better ones in that niche. But to me this album should be more than what it is; more like what Sunn has become since then.