It has been four years since the last Sunn O))) album, their eighth studio full length “Life Metal” emerged in April (the discography is incredibly complex – see below). Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson have brought on board Steve Albini for this release and whilst the core style of the duo is not lost there are some additions to the sound.
There are four lengthy tracks which are characterised by the usual deep and sonorous chord/riff/drone sequences, chamber metal if you will, that typify the Sunn O))) experience. However there are subtle changes to the soundscape through a combination of Albini’s engineering/mixing and the addition of several “guests” into the party.
Hildur Guðnadóttir renowned film music composer, and former member of the bands Múm, Pan Sonic and Angel, brings a unique contribution through vocals and electric cello, and the “new” instrument, the cello like haldorophone, to the proceedings. The main contribution comes via the albums mammoth closing composition/concerto “Novæ”.
Tim Midyett, a close friend of Greg and Stephen since the Seattle days of the early 90s, (and member of Silkworm, Bottomless Pit and Mint Mile) plays aluminium neck bass and baritone guitars.
New music composer Anthony Pateras arranged and recorded pipe organ for track two “Troubled Air” (titled after an essay by author Aliza Shvarts, who also penned the liner notes for last release Kannon).
Impossibly long slow notes, sustain, feedback, and intensity are the key elements and you shouldn’t expect anything radically new. However the analogue direct to tape/vinyl techniques appear to have added a more dense and visceral feel to the recording. The middle two tracks add to the canon without too much refinement. However the opening and closing tracks, the latter reaching a mind numbing 25 minutes, take on a sort of imperious in your face attitude that compels listening. Both break from the tradition of just riffs and chords with some “lighter” moments.
This is not music for people who like the conventions of a nice melody, a beginning, a middle and an end. It is brutal for the most part, and strips back the genre to it’s basics, you could argue they are the L.S. Lowry of heavy metal, reducing forms and processes to fundamentals of riff and noise. There is no percussion, just layers of guitars at maximum gain with other instruments occasionally fighting their way to the forefront. I find it fascinating, I don’t know why I like it, but it gets to me. I find the simplicity quite cathartic.
A second album recorded at the same sessions is due later in the year. A tour is underway also
The discography is something like this…..in reverse order
- Life Metal (CD 2xLP 2019)
- Downtown LA Rehearsal / Rifftape March 1998 (LP, 2018)
- Нежить (Live in Moscow 3xLP, 2016)
- ⻘青⽊木ヶ原 // 樹海海 (packaged with initial copies of Kannon album, flexi 7″, 2015)
- Kannon (CD & LP 2015)
- LA Reh 012 (LP, 2014)
- Soused (collaboration with Scott Walker, CD & 2xLP 2014)
- Terrestrials (collaboration with Ulver, CD & LP 2014)
- Rehearsal Demo Nov 11 2011 (LP, 2012)
- The Iron Soul of Nothing (collaboration with Nurse With Wound, 2xLP 2011)
- Agharthi Live 09-10 (Live in Europe LP + 7″ 2011)
- Monoliths & Dimensions (CD & 2xLP 2009)
- GrimmRobes Live 101008 (Cassette 2009)
- Che (with Pan Sonic) (10″ 2009)
- O))) Presents… Pentemple (LP & CD 2008)
- Dømkirke (live in Bergen 2xLP 2008)
- Oracle (12″ 2007)
- Altar (collaboration with Boris, 3xLP & CD 2006)
- WHITEbox (4xLP Box 2006)
- La Mort Noir dans Esch/Alzette (CD 2006)
- AngelComa (split with Earth, LP 2006)
- Black One (CD 2005, 2xLP 2006)
- Solstitium Fulminate (packaged with initial copies of Back One album, CD 2005)
- Cro-Monolithic Remixes for an Iron Age (12″ 2004)
- Candlewolf of the Golden Chalice (12″ 2005)
- White2 (CD & 2xLP 2004, remaster 2xLP 2018)
- Live White (live 2xCD 2004)
- Live Action Sampler (promotional mix 2xCD 2004)
- The Libations of Samhain (live CD 2003)
- Veils It White (12″ 2003)
- White1 (CD & 2xLP 2003, remaster 2xLP 2018)
- Flight of the Behemoth (CD & 2xLP 2002)
- The Grimmrobe Demos (demo 1998, CD 2000, 2xPLP 2003, 2xLP 2004, 3xPLP 2008)
- ØØ Void (CD 2000, 2xLP 2003, CD & 2LP 2011)