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Black One

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(47 Reviews)

Metal Album Reviews[RSS]

  • 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.

    Posted on January 13, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Last year, my husband and I decided to go ALL out for Halloween, and boy did we! We had everything. Our house looked like a scene from every scary movie you can think of. We had skulls, spiders, skeletons, tons of creepy lights (purple, green, and red), two fog machines going, over $50 worth of fake spider webs (the kids love those) and tons more. It all looked perfectly splendid (or perfectly terrifying!), so we went out to the local Home Depot and picked up a pair of those speakers that look like rocks to play our music through. We had everything set up perfectly; the coffin that held the gobs of candy, the ghosts that would dance and make ghoulish sounds as you passed by, the zombie hand that would shoot up in front of his tombstone, just everything. But we were stumped. What music should we play? It had to be super creepy.
    That’s when my husband suggested I ask one of the neighborhood middle-schoolers, Kyle, what we should pick for our music. If you read this, thanks Kyle! So that’s exactly what I did, and Kyle directed me to this album. He said it’s one of his favorite tunes to listen to when he’s feeling “down in the dumps.” I went out and bought it right away, with high hopes, and sure enough it was dead on! It was the perfect soundtrack to the plethora of horror gadgets that had plagued our yard last year.
    You should have seen the outcome, we counted over 400 kids that came by our place. That’s over twice as many as there were last year, and I can’t help but think this album must have contributed something to it. We got plenty of compliments and comments from both children and parents alike. Some kids even stood at the curb holding their parents hands because they were too scared!
    It looks like we’re going to have a bit more competition on our hands next year though. Some of our neighbors just had to know what album it was so they could purchase it for their own Halloween shows. I know for sure Betty and Martha got the album, and I think even Terry and Jon purchased a copy as well. I tried to persuade them to at least choose another of Sunn O)))’s albums, but they said this one was just too good.
    And it is! I whole-heartedly recommend this gem to anyone out there looking to get spooked or to do the spooking! Just too good.

    Posted on January 12, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • DISCLAIMER: This review may not be helpful in determining whether to purchase this particular Sunn album.

    I saw Sunn live last night in Vancouver touring on this album and it was unlike anything I’ve ever seen.

    Not so much a “rock” or even music show… the closest I could come to accurately describing it is “performance art” and even that’s way off the mark. Last night my body did things at Sunn’s behest I never knew it could. By far these guys are the LOUDEST live band I have ever seen… no idle statement. Instead of buying one of their albums, I decided to go see their show since I found out about it just weeks after discovering this band.

    5 figures emerging cloaked in black, and the DROOOOOONE starts as those beautiful Sunn tube amps begin to hummmmmmmmmmmmm… Before you know it the first (possibly only) note of the show unfurls over the audience like a steamroller. It’s like watching the Melvins (sans Dale Crover) at 1/4 speed, as one of the guitarists’ hands arches up to the ceiling as a frame of reference for the rest of the band to keep the “beat” (as if 5 or 6 BPM constitutes a beat)… then comes crashing down in unison.

    I kid you not, they played some notes last night that made it very difficult to breathe. Thankfully the tension was relieved 15 seconds or so later when the note changed and my chest was pounded slightly less intensely. One fun and interesting phenomenon I noticed was that whenever I exhaled my lips would vibrate against each other no matter how hard I tried to stop it.

    It’s not clear to me if the low-frequency chords or the sequence thereof signifies something esoteric, but one gets the sense that there is a method to what this band does. Picture the deafening sound of silence in the void of space, ever pulsing, stretching and dilating until it threatens to pull you apart… somehow it is as warm and soothing as it is visceral and frightening. This ain’t your father’s progressive metal.

    I will say this: NEVER before have I seen members of the audience place their heads against the amps at a show. It was not an isolated incident either, at first I thought it was one joker with no regard for his own hearing, but then it happened again… and AGAIN. As loud as Sunn are, when it was all over and I walked out of the venue, there was no painful ringing in my ears, no shrill whine of damaged hearing. Kind of ironic that the band who put on the LOUDEST show of my life also barely registered on the permanent hearing damage scale.

    Are they a real band or a promo/demo “act” for Sunn amps? It’s hard to tell when your skull is shaking so violently. Two things are for sure:

    1) I WILL see them again next time they roll through town.

    2) I MUST have all their albums.

    Posted on January 12, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • This is some sick stuff. This is the only Sunn O))) album I’ve heard, and I don’t have too much to compare it to. People call it Drone Metal, and that describes it well enough, though this one has got a definite black metal vibe to it as well. In my mind this is kinda the culmination of what black metal should be, just pulse and atmosphere on and on forever This is mostly just an endless wall of noise, rumbling, feedback ridden bass and ridiculously deep, powerfully distorted guitar. Very, very slow, no drums at all apart from a few little bits of percussion at a few points. Largely instrumental but with a fair bit of inhuman black metal shrieking and groaning in some of the tracks. It’s generally very repetitious and has virtually no melody, and it seems like it should be boring, honestly, but it’s truly bruising and hypnotic. Their note on the back: ‘Maximum Volume Yields Maximum Results’ definitely proves true. Ya gotta have this as loud as you can handle it for it totally work. Anyway, definitely one of the darkest things I’ve ever heard. Highly Recommended.

    Also, the cover art is awesome.

    Posted on January 12, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • This has to be one of the most singularly terrifying albums ever. Music is supposed to be evocative, naturally, but fear? Come ON now…and besides, how can music be scary? Listen to this and you’ll find out.

    Thick, sludgy sounds dripping from the ichor of darkness itself. Howls and screams from beyond the light – and performed mostly by two of the best black metal talents currently at work (Malefic, of Xasthur, and Wrest, of Leviathan). Song structures as indiscernable as the settings of your worst nightmares. Muddy production which leaves any signs of the obvious obscured in cold blackness.

    “He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”

    –Friedrich Nietzsche, “Beyond Good and Evil”

    Posted on January 12, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now