Sunday, July 29, 2007
Sun O))) - Black One
"Those familiar with Sunn 0))) by now either love them or hate them; either way, listeners know where they stand with this sonic incarnation. Those who haven't heard Sunn 0))) will be dichotomized in exactly the same way once they listen. Sunn 0)))'s existence from the Hydra Head releases of the GrimmRobes Demos (original pressing) and 00Void to the Southern Lord releases of Flight of the Behemoth, White 1 and 2, as well as a number of other live and remix releases, has seen the band become an enigma of sorts in the world of extreme music. Always following their darkened souls and never listening to the criticism of naysayers, the group has never been afraid to experiment musically and tread new ground. This ideal of sonic exploration is absolute with their newest release, Black One.
Being the first part of the Black complement to the White 1 and White 2 releases, Black One is an outlet for the band to self-admittedly exorcise their black metal demons. Anyone familiar with the other work of Sunn 0)))'s core duo Stephen O'Malley and Greg Anderson will know they are no strangers to black metal, and have backed up this history with a host of musical guests on Black One. U.S. black metal mainstays Wrest (Leviathan, Lurker of Chalice) and Malefic (Xasthur) both contribute some of the most disturbing vocals possible to the recording, including some guitar tracks by Malefic. Along with transcendent guitar work by Oren Ambarchi and superb noise by John Wiese (Bastard Noise, Sissy Spacek) the end result, without being cliché, is one of the most evil recordings ever captured. Some of the darkest, most meditative moments on this album make the Hot Topic kids in Dimmu Borgir shirts look like they just walked off the set of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood.
The opening track "Sin Nanna" is all Oren Ambarchi. Anyone familiar with his body of work that takes a guitar and makes it sound like anything but a guitar will instantly recognize that this is perfect for the new Sunn 0))) offering, and this influence is spotted here and there throughout the album. Following is "It Took the Night to Believe," the only track with Wrest, and arguably the most black metal track on Black One in terms of style and guitar riffing. It is also one of the most memorable tracks, easily getting stuck in the listeners head. The remaining five tracks settle down into the sound that Sunn 0))) has become the most comfortable with over time: the slow, ultra dark Sabbath inspired riffing, interspersed with droning bass tones and electronic noise textures. There is even a massively doomed out cover of the Immortal track "Cursed Realms of the Winterdemons." The album takes the listener on an extremely dark journey through the doom riffs of "Orthodox Caveman" and "CandleGoat" to the almost relaxing harmonics of "Cry for the Weeper" to the end with "Bathory Erzsebet." Beginning with ultra low tones and eerily chiming bells courtesy of Ambarchi, Anderson and O'Malley's droning guitars lock in soon enough to serve as the base for absolutely shuddering vocals by Malefic. The added texture to the vocals on this final track comes as a result of the fact that Malefic was recorded inside of a closed coffin that was inside of a hearse.
Bottom Line: If unfamiliar listeners are going to take the plunge into the entity that is Sunn 0))), Black One is as good a place as any. Of course, it's laughable to think that people will flock to this, but that's ok. Fans of the group will certainly cherish this, and others will hate it. Sunn 0))) knows what they're doing, and will continue to do it despite what is said. Similar to projects like Merzbow or Khanate, they are truly among the elite of those who aren't afraid to experiment with music, sound, and texture. For anyone willing to spend some time with this record, it will be well worth it."
1. Sin Nanna
2. It Took the Night to Believe MP3
3. Cursed Reamls (Of the Winterdemons)
4. Orthodox Caveman
6. Cry for the Weeper
7. Bathory Erzsebet