If you’re the type of metal maniac who demands that certain criteria be met before committing to rocking your brains out, this is probably not the album for you. For all their plentiful volume, Sunn 0))) strip away many of the basic elements of metal over the past 30 years, such as speed, flashy musicianship and, oh yeah, drums. While scorched-earth assault artists such as Khanate move at an average tempo comparable to George Romero’s zombies (they want to bleed you–slow!), they stick to structureds not too different than the blues artists of yesteryear. Sunn 0))) go another step beyond–”Black One” suggests what Phillip Glass might sound like if he sacrificed his soul to Lord Belial and vowed to destroy all in his path. The compositions here–you can’t really call them “songs”–move at a pace that is quite literally glacial. This is the sound of hell freezing over, and it sure ain’t pretty.
A few hipster indie-rockers such as Sleater-Kinney and the White Stripes get some attention for not using a bass guitar, but for musical purity of purpose they can’t match Sunn 0))). Their sound is all about the bass, to the extent that it’ll make even the toughest moshers need asbestos diapers. Heck, they sound like Godzilla just sat on your face and let a big one rip. “Cry of the Weeper” includes about a second of trebly feedback toward the beginning, but this quickly resolves into the type of sound made by the alien tripods in Spielberg’s “War of the Worlds”–only way nastier. One thing you won’t find on “Black One” is drums. What rhythm there is comes from one distorted chord slowly giving way to the next. The tracks don’t move so much as they decompose. Only two of them clock in under 10 minutes, so the effect is something like being buried alive. Actually, that’s kind of what happened to guest vocalist Malefic for the soul-crushing closer “Bathory Erzsebet”–he was allegedely recorded from inside a coffin! That’s what you call commitment to your art.
In some spots, “Black One” may be closer to dark ambient than metal. Fans of Lustmord might want to check this out, although even they may not be prepared for the sheer volume of this monster. While some black metalers have dabbled in the dark ambient genre, that kind of thing is a more peaceful kind of death. “Black One” is the kind of death that hurts–a lot. Still, I can’t help myself from enduring it.