“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 . . .