Heavy, heavy as shit. Just one of those amps can blow your pants off.
Sun O))) is vibration, the most extreme, but minimal definition of sound. Remember, there are only two of these hooded assholes. Yet, layers upon layers of earthquake guitar create one of the more unique productions of 2009. To listen to this band is a meditative experience, complete with feelings of paranoia and isolation, even catharsis. It’s hard to put my finger on the music stylistic-wise, since the performance is so one dimensional, but the album’s atmosphere makes up for its lack of technicality. The band is known both for its revolutionary style and collaborations, namely with electronic/black metal pioneers, Ulver, and Japanese experimental outfit, Boris. This is my first taste of Sun O))) and I am very, very pleased. A combination of Neurosis’ more drony (is that a word?) riffs and Boris’ aimless — in a good way — songwriting, Monoliths and Dimensions brings the blackest ambient to new heights.
Steven O’Malley and Greg Anderson punch the listener’s ears hard with a no-nonsense opener, “Aghartha.” After hypnotic vibrations and steady note changes, the song then brings in the album’s first surprise: Mayhem vocalist, Attila Csihar. As one of the most recognizable black metal vocalists, Attila’s voice suits this music well, his dracula-style gutturals adding to the creepy atmosphere. As previously stated, Monoliths relies heavily on said atmosphere, with subtle tones and sounds added purely to enhance the general feeling.
This style of music is difficult to analyze due to its simple nature. Before I even started writing this review, I stared at my blank screen and kept asking myself, “How can I write 500+ words on ten note tracks?” However, as I listened, listened, and listened again, I started to pick out the deeper layers. Screeches, stretching sounds, horns, choirs, dissonant violins, the layers are vast, creative, and overall, huge. And that’s exactly what O’Malley and Anderson intended, to immerse the listener deeper with each listen. The album’s cover introduces the music perfectly. There’s no light at the end of this album’s tunnel, but a longer, deeper hole.
If that’s not creepy enough, here’s a photo of Attila Csihar as a rotten tree:
Closer track “Alice,” aptly titled in honor of late Alice Coltrane, is another highlight on this album. Dare I say, melodic? The track ascends and descends a simple chord structure. In the background, strings crescendo off and on, hinting at something grand. This combination of different sounds slowly build towards a more symphonic conclusion, complete with harp, trombone, and other natural instruments that, I must say, encompass beauty.
I never thought I’d ever describe a song on this album as beautiful, but “Alice” takes a page out of melody’s handbook over, say, the evil sounding “Hunting and Gathering (Cydonia) or hell’s choir in “Big Church [I’m not even going to try].” “Alice” never delves from the album’s haunting vibe, just adds more ambiance and lighter sounds for the right amount of variety. This track works due to its structure amongst structure-lacking songs, and finishes the album on a high note.
So, how do I rate this album? The production is excellent, the vocals creepy, the musicianship unique and earthshaking. I’m a sucker for experimentation, but the album’s lack of structure and variety does grate on the senses. Due to its scope, Monoliths is best listened to in multiple sessions. Oh, and if you have neighbors, make sure you crank up the bass before you even think of listening to “Aghartha.” They’ll love you for it.
Disclaimer: All contents and rights of the featured image belongs to Frederick Minne at https://www.flickr.com/photos/zefredz/3585398110/. All contents and rights of the body image belongs to Greg Holland at https://www.flickr.com/photos/gcholland/4171317471/in/album-72157622432172404/. I, in no way, have used said images for profit and am only using the photos for critical purposes. If the artist would like his or her images removed, feel free to contact me and I will remove the photos immediately.