SUNN O))) - THE GRIMMROBE DEMOS - SOUTHERN LORD
There is something magnetic about this collaboration. The Grimmrobe Demos, as indicated in the title, is not a new album from the band, but rather a reissue of the early demo. That is why the 'music' on the disc is markedly different than the band's more recent output. Having said that, the O'Malley/Anderson collaboration executes with such certitude that four tracks/75 minutes of nearly unfluctuating droning distortion sounds appealing and worth purchasing. There are no vocals, riffs, harmonies or seemingly even a structure on the disc, but the wail of the strings whispers pain and agony all the same. One has to be both depressed and raised on endless episodes of Dr. Who to get it. Get it. - Ali "The Metallian"
SUNN O))) - BLACK ONE - SOUTHERN LORD
If earth were to broadcast Black One into space the aliens listening out there would probably figure that the sound was their own signals bouncing back at them plus a little supplemental transmissions from Satan picked up en route. Forget music or any other silly notions like that. Instead, think dissonance, noise and atonal static to the tune of Satan’s snarly and ill-tempered rage and Black One beings to take shape. Indeed, fans of Earth know what to expect. Now, and for fans of the band this will be a surprise, but this album is the band’s most diverse given a couple of shorter songs (i.e. less than 25 minutes) and abyssic growls on top of the music, er, static, but the day Sunn o))) actually makes it on the radio is the day I will personally show you a virgin whore. The band claims some of the vocals were recorded while the singer was locked inside a coffin loaded on the back of a hearse. Enough said, really, other than this would make the perfect Valentine gift. Start saving your money now. - Ali “The Metallian”
SUNNO)))&BORIS - ALTAR - SOUTHERN LORD
First and foremost my gratitude and regards to Southern Lord for its signing policy, attitude and artistic outlook. In a world victimized and burdened by bland genericism and clichéd commercialism it is good to see a label, which exists to fulfill an artistic niche. So far, it seems, Southern Lord has been able to exist outside the mainstream (and believe me many supposedly heavy or extreme bands are mainstream) abiding by its purity of purpose. In a jaded environment like that of earth 2007 AD it is only gratifying to see such mentality for which this company stands.
This album is not a split album. Altar is the collaboration of two like-minded groups, which have come together to break artistic bread and create a thought-provoking and profound album. Have they succeeded and is one plus one equal two here?
Neither Sunno))) nor Boris are exactly metal bands and their joint output might or might not address the artistic needs of a heavy metal listener. The first two tracks, Etna and N.L.T, are bereft of vocals yet indicative of the rest of the album given their unassuming quietude. The drone of the bands’ other work is present, albeit subdued and rather secretive. The Sinking Belle (Blue Sheep) introduces the female vocals and the strum of strings before Akuma No Kuma continues the simplicity and reserve of the group’s collaboration. Fried Eagle Mind never picks up, although a number of different elements are present in the background. The music is haunting and anti-hit like.
One gets the idea that the success of this collaboration and album is only to be estimated in the minds of its creators. The unusually serene compositions do have the drone, vibe and echoes of the groups’ past, but manage to remain distant and reserved throughout. As for the titles, and any meaning behind them, that has to be left to the perception of the enlightened mind afflicted by whichever drug the members were on during the writing process. Any speculation beyond that is useless really. - Ali “The Metallian”
SUNN O))) - DOMKIRKE - SOUTHERN LORD
I haven’t always been a friend to Sunn O))), as the group’s catalogue has received both high praise and criticism from these ears. However, like its audacious collaboration with Boris several years back, Sunn O))) has once again outdone itself both musically and conceptually, this time recording at the Bergen Cathedral while referencing the gothic Gregorian hymns of the late Middle Ages. A little background: the aforementioned Gregorian hymns were the pieces of music that filled the Bergen Cathedral during the Black Plague and the Great Famine, those sinister historical eras fitting the Sunn O))) aesthetic perfectly as the group alternates from ambient soundscapes to eerie moments of menacing, chasm-like depths. Featuring usual conspirators Greg Anderson and Stephen O’Malley along with Attila Csihar (Mayhem), Steve Moore (Earth) and Norwegian Lasse Marhaug, this record is a testament to art as ideal and ideal as king. Furthering that principle, one of the coolest parts here is undoubtedly the collection’s medium: Domkirke has been released solely on vinyl with no digital versions (i.e. CD/Mp3) available, and this double-LP set is presented on 180 gram wax in a stunning gatefold. The chilling sleeves are pretty malicious, too. This package is a real triumph for both Sunn O))) and Southern Lord, an inspiring look at what happens on artistic levels when only purists are involved. - David Perri
SUNN O))) - MONOLITHS & DIMENSIONS - SOUTHERN LORD
Now here’s an idea only Sunn O))) could get away with: release a double-vinyl album and have Side A spin at 33, Side B at 45, Side C at 45 and Side D back to 33... it’s a recipe for turntable catastrophe if you’re not paying attention, and that’s probably Sunn O))) - and Southern Lord’s - musical purist intention (which, I’ll admit, I find really cool in a record geek kind of way). And, digressing slightly, I also wonder if the 33/45/45/33 idea has to do with some sort of completing the circle alpha/omega concept but I’ll leave that theory for another day. In any case, Monoliths & Dimensions finds Sunn O))) in its usual meditative form, the group - as always - creating atmosphere of the most sinister quality, that sinister sense complimented by recent Sunn O))) collaborator (and Mayhem vocalist) Attila Csihar. The one wide discrepancy here is the collection’s last track, Alice, a song where the listener finds Sunn O))) experimenting with borderline jazz: this is where Monoliths & Dimensions really shines, Sunn O))) truly pushing the boundaries it always threatens to decimate. - David Perri