Listening to this is almost an injustice; the only way to truly experience the phenomenon known as Sunn O))) is to go see them perform. This is still very enjoyable, however, just make sure to turn up your stereo ALL the way and prepare for some pissed-off neighbors. Just don’t miss them if they play in your hometown.
2009 album from the veteran Metal band led by guitarist Chris Impellitteri. Wicked Maiden re-unites Impellitteri with long time lead vocalist and writing collaborator Rob Rock. Impellitteri have built a strong fan base throughout the world selling over 1 million records. Wicked Maiden is Impellitteri’s Metal masterpiece. The band challenged the boundaries of conventional Metal by utilizing music theory, technique, innovation, technology, and creative story telling. The result is an intense guitar driven metal album that will satisfy the appetite of any true Metal fan. Wicked Maiden features memorable guitar riffs, fast shredding guitar solos, amazing screaming vocals, exciting lyrical content, and a mean heavy rhythm section.
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Sunn O))) are the slowest band in the history of recorded music. Their suble weight boars it’s way into your subconcious and dwells in the darkest corners of your soul. The empty void of space recorded here will have you thinking that My Dying Bride, Candlemass, and Sleep are speed metal. I must note that track 2 seems like the soundtrack to being a cave. If inanimate matter slowly plowing through the emptiness of the universe sounds like an entertaining sojourn, then you can do little better that this.
I’ll just give it to you straight, track by track:
1. Hell-O)))-Ween- ‘old-fashioned’ riff-based drone. This song is great, it is huge to say the least. I get giddy when I listen to this it’s so fun. The production is truly swell, an incredibly full sound.
2. bassAliens- like a deep space, alien spa for your brain. It’s very relaxing, moody, and full of sound. It sounds like it could be on Robert Rich’s more ‘gloopy’ effort Bestiary. Near the end it sounds as though the tube in which your brain is placed starts to short circuit and eventually plunges into the otherwordly depths and gravity of…
3. decay2(nihil’s maw)- featuring Attila Csihar on vocals, chanting sanskrit over, in and through a black galaxy of doom. This song wasn’t quite what I expected upon first listen(since it takes doom in a more ambient direction), but that doesn’t matter. It does it’s job. I found this track so surprisingly scary I had to turn it off when I was trying to fall asleep. It will not let you relax.
So here’s the thing, while all tracks are superb in their execution, the EARTH fan in me wanted more songs or minutes of Hell-O)))-Ween riffage. The song is just so good, the production is just phenomenal and I’d love to hear more. But that’s what SUNN O)))’s, EARTH’s, and Melvins’ past albums are for. My stubborn fanboy nature doesn’t matter here, what is of greater note is that with this album SUNN O))) have definately carved their own sound for them. Sure it’s reminiscient of EARTH during guitar based tracks, but they definately have their own style, ideas, and directions in mind for this band. If there’s a point in their history of making music where they can release an album and stop having every review begin with a synopsis of EARTH homage, this should be it. As far as my opinion is concerned, they are their own band now.
Imagine being trapped under a running diesel rig during an earthquake… and feeling pretty damn good about it. That’s what it’s like to experience Sunno))). This is not `metal’, this is not `ambient noise’; this is an aural departure from this planet. This is sonic warfare; this is a full-on aural assault. This might be the ultimate test for you and your subwoofer- `cause you’ll need this to be LOUD. Your limbs will twitch, your mind will fall empty, and your being may take leave as the luring vibrations take hold. No need to strap yourself in- these sounds will keep you well aware of gravity and its Earthly pull. This is the sound of a Universe being reborn. It churns, builds and grinds, as the seismic rumbling guides you through this sensory experience.
Bottom line: Sunno))) flushes the toilet on everything that before was `heavy’.
“He” is, of course, the Southern Lord boys of Sunn O))), who are creating a din of unprecedented proportion at whatever spot on the globe that will allow its denizens to receive the severe ear abuse that Sunn dishes out. Check out their diabolical plan to scare art connouisseurs the world over in the NYTimes Magazine article (5-28-06) on their resurgent movement. Check out their website at southernlord.com to see how close they are coming to your hometown and also check out the evil minions who are on their unhallowed record label.
_White 2_ doesn’t let down on the drone department. “Hell-O)))-Ween” sounds nothing like the shrieky metal band of the ’80s that is its namesake and is mainly excruciatingly loud bass vibrating the cone of its amplifier within micrometers of its substance. The whole point is trance. _White 2_ is my first listening experience of Sunn, so I can’t compare it to other releases, but really on “Hell-O)))-Ween” I want more. In the NYTimes article, one of the band members talks about how he is influenced by Steve Reich’s minimalism and other New Music influences. All I hear on the first track is the Melvins without the drums, singing/grunting, and drop-D riffage (makes sense since the Melvin’s Joe Preston is on bass). In short: massive dirge where you fill in the blanks. I am sure that this is much more awe-inspiring live. No matter how loud you turn up your stereo, I can’t imagine it’s the same thing as the communal black mass that emanates as it is created in front of your ears.
The second track, “bassAliens,” has more instrumentation, and some of it on the delicate side of things (keyboard & guitar that is played in the treble clef, as opposed to the 85% of the sounds that are below the bass clef (“Optimized for Blackened Sub-Bass Systems” it instructs you on the back sleeve). Still things move at a megalithic pace here and one never comes anywhere near harmonic release, just 23 ambient minutes of waiting for a power chord that never arrives. Better than the first track.
The best track is “Decay2 [Nihil's Maw]” which starts out sounding as if the earth rent open beneath your living-room floor, allowing you to witness the attempted escape of the throngs damned to perpetuity. What sounds as if it is a Satanic chant is actually a reading from the Shrimad Bagavatam, an ancient Sanskrit sacred text. The way it is chanted slow and low does sound like Zen monk throat singing, just with a horde of loud noises behind it to make you hope the end is not truly nigh. As scary as it gets.
I would be horrified to meet the person who puts this on repeat in their CD player. What you get on a Sunn disc is more like a happening. I am probably like many when I say that I won’t play this over and over like the last Radiohead CD when it came out. Instead, I will probably put it on every now and then, light some candles, and contemplate the patterns of good and evil in the universe. Some CDs are made for that. This album doesn’t realize the band’s full potential until the final song, but you know that this is a group who will fearlessly move forward in the name of art, metal, the Southern Lord, and everything else that is unholy. Don’t miss the emanation if it comes to your neighborhood. Considering bringing your rosary, though . . .