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"OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH" - 100%

the_navy_blue_vicar, April 28th, 2005

To be honest, there’s not much to say about this album that hasn’t already been said, but this is my favorite Sunn O))) release, and I’ve read a few assessments (less than 2, perhaps) of this album in various places on metal-archives which contain opinions that I would consider to be complete untruths passed off as hard facts. Hopefully I can balance this out with my usual over-enthusiasm and half-truths.

First of all, a lot has been made of this album’s stupidly-heavy heaviness. But not enough has been made of its FUCKING AWESOMENESS. And to be fair, the album isn’t THAT amazingly heavy. I can understand that you sometimes need to over-state your case and exaggerate when you’re writing a review to make sure that people get what you’re trying to say, like “I’M NOT FUCKING JOKING, THIS ALBUM IS REALLY, REALLY DOWNTUNED”, and fair enough; it is. But to say that it’s far, far too downtuned, distorted and that the notes are indistinguishable (as some people may or may not have hinted at on certain websites) is just plain bollocks and misleading to people who haven’t heard it. The bass on this album in particular is clear as fuck, which is one of the things lacking on the other Sunn O))) albums and is one of the reasons it’s my favorite one. If the notes are indistinguishable to you I can only assume that you have a problem hearing low frequencies, or are a complete plank. If, hypothetically speaking, someone was to state that the album consists of randomly selected single notes played at 9 to 11-second intervals, that would lead me to assume that either they didn’t actually listen to this album or just enjoy being completely fucking wrong. Either way, they would be completely fucking wrong.

The intro to this album is class, opening with the bass playing an already-fairly-low note before crunching a whole octave lower, which, yes, is pretty fuckin low, but is completely audible, it’s an a-sharp if I remember right, so its not as if you’ve never heard anything anywhere near as low as this. The bass plays through two whole cycles of the riff, which takes about 1 minute 10 seconds, before the guitars join in, feedbacking all over the place. This riff is comprised of almost entirely 2 notes, both which happen to be A-Sharp. Despite that, it sounds fantastic. The screaming horn sound which comes in towards the end is great and I can’t think of a better way to describe it than when Julian Cope likened it to seagulls being sucked into a giant jet-engine and screeching for ever into eternity. At the very end of the track the guitars cut out abruptly, leaving the screaming seagull-horn sound to echo out. Brilliant stuff.

I think the problem some people have with the perceived monotony of this album starts with track 2, being as it’s in exactly the same key as track one, and at first seems to be much of the same. When I first heard this I thought that too, but after hearing it more you realize that it’s in a totally different time signature, it just takes a while to get used to how slow these tracks are, especially without the drums to help you. This track has some pretty cool vocals, which, when they change over the chord sequence, sort of results in a weird 2-note melody. Some weird swishy-air sounds swoosh about in the background before it ends as abruptly as the first track.

Track 3 is called Rabbit’s Revenge, which is a downright shit name for a song, but it’s my favorite on this album. It starts off with some amazing, clear-sounding feedback in each speaker before the (clear as fuck) bass riff rumbles in underneath in a weird time signature (maybe another reason for the supposed random-sounding riffs on this album). This part is cool as fuck, I could listen to it all day, just waiting for the rest to crunch in. And crunch in it does, the guitars, predictable following the bass riff before morphing into a weird mid-section with feedback-a-plenty and some weird samples in the background too. This churns on for a perfect 14 minutes before fading out.

The last track is a bit different from the other 3, much faster, although still pretty slow, with “proper” riffs being played, much like Earth, who by their own admission they started off as a bit of a tribute to. The start of this track, to me sounds more along the lines of the things they would try on their next album Flight of the Behemoth before huge a huge drone ends the album.

Sunn O))) would go on to be more varied and experimental, but this is the best place to start for beginners in my opinion, because although it lacks some of the more ambient tracks they released later, it’s a pretty high quality slab of classic Sunn O))).

Oh, and I’m giving this album 100% to try and balance out the average a bit.
Cheers!