SunnO))) – LifeMetal

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(Southern Lord)

Total Time: 01:09:02

Gods to some and crooks to others, SUNN O))) (pronounced simply “sun”) is really a special case of a band. Being the leaders (after EARTH, of course) of the so called doom/drone sound, for nearly 20 years now they play something very specific and totally monolithic, since their style is based almost exclusively on the soundscapes formed by the slow, über-heavy riffs delivered by the low-tuned Gibson Les Paul guitars of Greg Anderson and Stephen O’Malley, without any drum-beats at all, and sometimes with the addition of some other accompanying instruments and rarely with the presence of some vocals here and there. So, if you are one of those who find no real meaning in what SUNN O))) does, if you find them boring or you just don’t like them, then please move on to the next review, there’s nothing for you to see here, since “Life Metal” won’t change a bit the opinion you have about this band.

For those of you who like not only the sonic experience but also the massage on your ears and spine (especially in the band’s live performances) that this hooded duet has to offer, for those who know how to “tune in” to the ambience of SUNN O))), let’s say that “Life Metal” (this is how the band describes now its style) is an excellent album which – I dare to predict – will be mentioned in the future as one of the band’s best releases. And how could it be any different, when the track that kicks off the album, starts and finishes with the exact same horses’ neighs from BATHORY’s “Oden’s Ride Over Nordland”? Its title is “Between Sleipnir’s Breaths”, and it is the only song to feature vocals, sung by Icelandic musician HildurGuðnadóttir (other guests in the album: Tim Midyett– bass, crotales, T.O.S. Nieuwenhuizen- moog, and Anthony Pateras- pipe organ in “Troubled Air”). “Life Metal” is maybe one of the most accessible (if there can be anything like that) works by SUNN O))), first due to Steve Albini’s outstanding work in the sound: Recorded and mixed exclusively on tape with an all analogue technique, the album has a huge, yet natural sound that fills the space around you and makes “visible” even the slightest details. If you let yourself go with the flow (a basic requirement in order to listen to such music), then the album will absorb you within its vibrations, and will slowly “unfold” throughout its four compositions, with the climax coming in the most epic way on the final track, the nearly 26-minute long “Novæ” (where Guðnadóttir offers another guest appearance, playing the electric cello and haldorophone). To conclude, things are more or less pretty clear: If you like SUNN O))), then “Life Metal” is probably already destroying your ears. If you don’t like them, stay away from this album, and if you don’t know them and you are curious as a listener to “taste” one of the most challenging forms of expression in the extreme music spectrum, then this record provides a good starting point,along with “00 Void” and “Monoliths & Dimensions” from the band’s back catalogue.

Rating: 8/10


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