This is the first record that Sunn O))) put out and if you are looking for a record that captures the purity of the style of subsonic bass frequencies and riff after riff of doom metal then this is the perfect place to start. But to committed Sunn O))) fans this doesn’t hold the same interest as other Sunn O))) records and if I was to advise you to start anywhere I highly recommend White 2 and White 1. Black One is also great but by that stage their sound had starting incorporating more black metal elements. Flight of the Behemoth is still my favourite though. The stuff with Merzbow is still some of my favourite music out there. This isn’t the Sunn O))) record to rush out to buy if you are new to the band because it was always really meant to be a demo. It still rocks but there are other Sunn O))) records that are a bit more satisfying.
Archive for the Sunn Category
Just how many bands has Stephen O’Malley been in? Khanate first crossed my radar a couple of years ago when I picked up their self titled debut to supplement my knowledge of doom. At the time it was a little too much metal and a little less doom than what I was looking for. Over the years that record has grown on me and when I saw this get released I was pretty keen to hear it. The thing about this record is I had trouble figuring out whether it was some collection of out takes, demo tracks or what because depending on what you read the band broke up somewhere between 2004 and 2006. I’m not sure when these were recorded or why it took so long to release them. Again depending on what you read this is either the third or fourth proper Khanate record.
The thing about Khanate is that if you are looking for the full on monster riff doom expereince of Sunn O))) then you are going to be disappointed. The metal that Khanate produced is a highly dissonant version of black metal but trending toward the artier end. The screamed guttural howls of the lead singer are actually understandable which is nice and the music some across as an intelligent version of Tortoise had they burnt down a Swedish church and fucked a goat on occaison. It’s certainly not easy listening but for those looking for a less campy, more cerebral black metal experience, this may be it.
I’ve been hanging out for this for some time because nothing says happiness like a slab of doom laden black metal. This is their first proper album in yonks, since I think Black One if I’m not mistaken (I don’t think you can count Oracle because that was tracks developed for an art piece rather than an album proper). I was actually going into my local record store to buy Isis’s Oceanic and fuck me if this wasn’t sitting in the rack below. It made my week and after a couple of spins its time to post on it.
You know its Sunn O))) so it’s bound to be good but I wasn’t expecting this. There are four tracks in all. The first and third are your typical Sunn O))) power riffs and the first one had Atilla talking about some underground city or such nonsense in his best creepy voice. They haven’t been this much fun since My Wall on White 1. Fun but sinister of you know what I mean. Maybe it is a bit vaudeville for many tastes but I’m a sucker for this type of thing so bring it on I say. The second track is called Big Church and it features a choir, a fucking CHOIR I tell you. More Gorecki Misere than Mormon Tabernacle if you are worried that the sound of a choir is completely lame. Totally different to anything they’ve done before I reckon but the final expectation destroying clusterfuck happens on the final track. It starts off as a typical doom track and then fuck me! a fucking trumpet wails and suddenly your listening to jazz. I thought my ipod had fucked up but seriously the most divine jazz track I’ve heard in some time (which isn’t that profound because the only jazz I listen to is The Necks) leaks our of my headphones. To say that Sunn O))) don’t do the same thing twice might be the fucking understatement of the year. If you’re looking for the windswept-tundra-in-hell vibe of Black One you are certainly not going to find it here. Sunn O))) let the light in and it’s a cracking good listen.
KTL are the duo of Steven O’Malley from SunnO))) and Peter Rehberg (Pita). They originally formed to create music for a theatre piece called Kindertotenlieder which I think means Place of Dead Children or something like that. I own all three KTL records available on CD and I think they may have surpased themselves with this one. One of the slight criticisms I have of their previous records is that their quest for minimalism could sometimes be a bit too minimalist for my taste. IV amps up the creep factor that was present on the previous records. O’Malley’s doom riffs are more out front and centre and Rehberg’s tense electro-fuckery make the atmosphere of IV chillingly bleak. The frightening and dark Paratrooper is my favourite track. As the longest track here at over 20 minutes, Rehberg allows his laptop to create a disturbing Dystopia not quite matched on KTL’s other records. IV is proving to be an expensive purchase at the moment given the strength of the Euro but shell out for this if you can, it may be one of the best things produced this year and a fitting soundtrack for the current GFC.
Kindertotenleider (Songs on the Death of Children) was a song cycle for orchestra and voice based on the poems of Ruckert. Ruckert wrote his poems in the early 19th century after two of his children died within 16 days of each other. KTL (an abbreviation) is the band put together by Stephen O’Malley of Sunn O))) and Peter Rehberg aka Pita the experimental electronic musician. As cheery as that premise is, KTL might have created the benchmark in ambient black metal. Spooky, relentless, foreboding and mesmerising all at once, O’Malley’s guitar is the sound that anchors the work whilst Rehberg’s electronic manipulations are sometime front and centre and at other times barely perceptible. The overwhelming impression is one of misery and if you remember that end scene at the end of the Blair Witch Project where that guy is facing the wall in that basement and not responding to his friend’s calls, if that scene had needed a score then KTL would have been perfect.
While we all wait for another release from SunnO))), The three KTL records (and a fourth to be released in the new year) are excellent ways of establishing some Christmas ambiance for your family this season.
When Thor’s Hammer imploded in the mid-1990’s, the surviving members created Burning Witch one of the more influential black metal/doom bands of the 1990’s. Although Burning Witch only existed for a couple of years, the core of the band Stephen O’Malley and Greg Andersen, went on to form the reigning bench mark of doom, Sunn O))). During their brief existence Burning Witch recorded two EPs with Steve Albini. Crippled Lucifer is a twin disc compilation of those EPs.
To be honest I was never a metal fan. I always found the genre over the top and a bit ridiculous. When ever I listen to a black metal record I always think that I get the joke until I realise that the band themselves are probably not trying to be funny. This is the same reaction I get with Burning Witch. I mean this record is so heavy, the riffs so crushing, the vocals so tortured that I can’t help but be amused. The thing is, if i find the whole thing so silly then why do I enjoy Crippled Lucifer so much? Part of the reason is that sometimes I just want to hear over the top guitar work and demon vocals. Playing this record is a guilty pleasure and is particularly useful after a particularly grinding day at work. For those of you who are fans of Sun O))) yet haven’t managed to listen to this, I recommend that you remedy that situation immediately. Burning Witch certainly didn’t embrace the ambient minimlism that now infiltrates Sunn O)))’s work but the bedrock of their sound has been used as a template for all of the doom bands that have followed. Recommended.
Still Born Live
This is the follow-up to one of my favourite albums of all time Hex: Or Printing in the Infernal Method. That record was simply fanatstic. Bleak, pastoral doom which was both evocative and oddly beautiful. On Bees Made Honey In The Lion’s Skull, Earth haven’t reinvented the wheel but it is still a progression. The pastoral country-gothic ambience that was flirted with on Hex is front and centre on Bees. It’s less bleak than Hex and there’s also a bit more of a prog rock feel to the whole thing and on one track Earth may have become as rock n’ roll as they dare.
It’s a pretty good record. I prefer Hex personally but there is a lot here to love. If Hex is 9/10 then this is and 8.
Here’s a snippet