A doom/drone metal band. Brooklyn/Queens border. St. Patrick’s Day. Sounds about right to me.
For those unfamiliar, the band Sunn O))) are difficult to explain and must simply be experienced. Though words can only go so far, here goes nothing. Being categorized as "drone metal," their music moves at the speed of a glacier coupled with the volume of a jet engine (approximately 125 decibels). Visually, the band pumps fog machines for approximately 30 minutes prior to taking the stage, leaving the viewers in a literal fog.
Upon taking the stage, vocalist Atilla Csihar invokes inhuman mumbles, chants, and incantations, almost resembling the art of Tuvan throat singing (multiple notes/harmonies sung simultaneously). After five minutes, the guitars begin to rumble and cascade upon the observer a wall of notes that, depending upon proximity to the stage, can vibrate the lips and rattle the chest cavity. One fairly surprising angle is the lack of a drummer. Though somewhat unheard of and making it seemingly impossible to maintain a discernible rhythm, the sounds Sunn O))) produce ultimately need no further assistance. One exception though are the occasional lost and solemn notes of a trumpet meandering through the drone.
Just as slowly as the "music" progresses, the lights fade into each other, beginning with a dark blue, than a mellow orange, ending on red. As they darken and brighten, one wonders if the color changes are a subliminal insinuation, a metaphor for starting out in a dark place that gets better, and ultimately makes you stronger. But the immediate reaction to these physical and audio assaults is, appropriately, "what IS this?!? WHY would I want to experience this?" After a certain amount of time, the audio becomes numbing and induces an almost meditative state of mind. When guitarists Stephen O' Malley and Greg Anderson play a new note, the rumblings awaken you briefly, and then perpetuate the paralysis. Once the fog starts to fade and the brief outlines of O'Malley and Anderson, adorned in Druid ritualistic robes, become noticeable, an arm making a fist is stretched into the air. Observers who aren't frozen then slowly raise their fists in a sign of solidarity and appreciation.
For the last third of the show, Csihar returns to the stage looking like the Statue of Liberty from another dimension. Adorned in a spiked crown, cloak dressed in broken pieces of mirror, and a glove with red lasers as fingers, low rumbles and brief high pitched screams underscore the guitars as laser lines bounce into the crowd. Right when the viewer may have gotten comfortable in this realm of sound, the arresting image merely adds another layer of discomfort. Just as suddenly as it started, two hours later, Sunn switches off their amps and remove their hoods and cloaks.
Though this review may seem, for lack of a better term, "mental masturbation," in order to justify a two-hour session of playing a handful of notes and feedback at absurd levels, I present to you two ideas of thought, one pretentious and one practical:
First, metal music, like other genres, has spiraled out into various sub-genres. Heavy metal, progressive metal, nu-metal, math metal, black metal, doom metal; the list goes on, especially if the "core" genres were to be considered. Each sub-genre approaches their music with a unique background, records it in a unique mentality, and want to display in a unique image….
...And secondly, they thought of it and acted on it before you did and made it successful enough for you to have to hear of it and form a negative opinion on it.
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