Altar by Sunn O))) on Apple Music

6 Songs

EDITORS’ NOTES

This collaboration between the power-ambient Sunn 0))) and Japan’s experimental sludge rockers Boris, with guests including members of Earth, High On Fire, Soundgarden and Jessamine, is one slow, heavy and loud affair. 2006’s Altar makes ambient music for metalheads and stoner-rock fans, but it’s quite effective for anyone looking to experience music as an altered mental state. Guitars and synths rarely venture beyond a few chords, settling on sounds that sustain for long periods of time. Jesse Sykes adds her atmospheric vocals to the album’s breather, the 4AD-like jangle of “The Sinking Belle (Blue Sheep),” for a slight lift from the dense orchestral fog. “Etna” grinds with inspired intensity. “N.L.T.” rattles like deep, purring thunder. “Akuma No Kuma” returns the festivities to more mind and body melting drones while a robotic vocal adds to the disembodied feel. But the key track here is the closer, “Blood Swamp,” where all the beauty and the subliminal voices come together for a near fifteen-minute drone that under headphones transports the listener to the darkest recesses of the mind. Amazing and darkly sublime.

EDITORS’ NOTES

This collaboration between the power-ambient Sunn 0))) and Japan’s experimental sludge rockers Boris, with guests including members of Earth, High On Fire, Soundgarden and Jessamine, is one slow, heavy and loud affair. 2006’s Altar makes ambient music for metalheads and stoner-rock fans, but it’s quite effective for anyone looking to experience music as an altered mental state. Guitars and synths rarely venture beyond a few chords, settling on sounds that sustain for long periods of time. Jesse Sykes adds her atmospheric vocals to the album’s breather, the 4AD-like jangle of “The Sinking Belle (Blue Sheep),” for a slight lift from the dense orchestral fog. “Etna” grinds with inspired intensity. “N.L.T.” rattles like deep, purring thunder. “Akuma No Kuma” returns the festivities to more mind and body melting drones while a robotic vocal adds to the disembodied feel. But the key track here is the closer, “Blood Swamp,” where all the beauty and the subliminal voices come together for a near fifteen-minute drone that under headphones transports the listener to the darkest recesses of the mind. Amazing and darkly sublime.

TITLE TIME
9:50
3:49
7:37
7:52
9:46
14:45

About Sunn O)))

The self-described "power ambient" duo Sunn 0))) (pronounced "Sun") were formed in the mid-'90s by guitarists Stephen O'Malley (Khanate, Burning Witch) and Greg Anderson (Goatsnake, Thorr's Hammer). Known for its drone-heavy blend of black metal, dark ambient, and low-tuned noise rock, the band took inspiration from the early works of the Melvins and Earth, the latter of whom inspired some of the group's song titles -- Sunn 0))) began as an Earth tribute band in Los Angeles and originally played music under the related name of Mars. Sunn 0)))'s basic approach (droning guitars, feedback, distorted bass, and other sound effects) was laid down on their first two releases, The Grimmrobe Demos (recorded in 1998 but not released until 2000) and 00 Void (recorded and released in 2000), both of which were the first two releases on the Hydra Head Records subsidiary Double H Noise Industries.

In 1998 O'Malley and Anderson founded the experimental doom metal label Southern Lord, which would go on to release albums by Sunn 0))), Earth, Goatsnake, and Khanate, as well as offerings from up-and-coming black metal acts like Wolves in the Throne Room and Striborg. Sunn 0)))'s third album (and first for Southern Lord), Flight of the Behemoth, arrived in 2002 and found the group incorporating a bit of percussion (and even a smattering of vocals) into the mix, a creative path they continued to take on 2003's White1 and 2004's White2. Black One arrived one year later, sporting a sound that recalled the band's early work shot through with a heavy dose of electronics, while 2006's Altar found the duo collaborating with Japanese doom outfit Boris.

The live double album Dømkirke followed in 2008, and the expansive Monoliths and Dimensions (which featured, among other things, a Viennese woman's choir and French horns) appeared in 2009. In 2011, the limited-edition Agharti Live 09-10 was issued, followed by The Iron Soul of Nothing in collaboration with Nurse with Wound. In 2014, the band again participated in a collaborative effort, this time with Norwegian group Ulver on the album Terrestrials, which appeared in February. In addition, they recorded a full-length with Scott Walker; Soused was released in October.

Sunn 0))) announced the release of the full-length album Kannon, a three-part single conceptual work named for the Buddhist deity of mercy, a bodhisattva "who perceives and hears the cries of the world." Co-produced by the band with Randall Dunn, it features contributions from a number of longtime friends and collaborators including Attila Csihar, Oren Ambarchi, Rex Ritter, and Steve Moore. It also features a liner essay about the spiritual and cultural concepts surrounding its subject by critical theorist Aliza Shvartz. The album was marked for release on Southern Lord in early December 2015. ~ William York & James Christopher Monger

  • ORIGIN
    Seattle, WA
  • FORMED
    1998

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