Sunn O))) - Monoliths & Dimensions

Album: Monoliths & Dimensions
Artist: Sunn O)))
Released: 2009
Rating: 5/5

The album is not "SUNN O))) with strings" or "metal meets orchestra" material. The band took an approach concentrating on more of allusion toward the timbre of feedback and the instruments involved, so the piece is really illusory, beautiful and not entirely linear, stating that the end product is "the most musical piece we’ve done, and also the heaviest, powerful and most abstract set of chords we’ve laid to tape".

This was the press release put out before the album release. So many bands in the past have released such statement to reassure their fans that all is well and they have not gone off the deep end. But inevitably most fail and everything they said was not to be comes to pass. From time to time though some come through with the promises they make. Well add Sunn O))) to that list. “Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated!” These were the last words spoken on stage by Johnny Rotten at the Sex Pistols last show in 78. This is how I felt when I saw only four tracks, but then I listened.

While Sunn O))) says this album is not entirely linear, they are correct. But there is a central theme running through this album, and the theme is layers. On the opening track, Aghartha, aside from the talents of O’Malley and Anderson, they employ many instruments to add to the Drone. Instruments such as, a double bass, violin, piano, English horn, clarinet, French horn, viola, and a conch shell. But this is merely the beginning for what is in store elsewhere. Big Church opens with a female vocal choir adding an almost ethereal quality. As if sing some siren song leading you into darkness only to be interrupted by the howls of Attila Csihar and realizing it’s too late. This sequence is repeated on this track over and over to great affect. Hunting&Gathering (Cydonia) is the track that would fit on any of the Sunn O))) records but feels most at home on this one. Attila starting in his native tongue then goes into English. Perhaps speaking of the poetic name of the Greek island or the regions of Mars. The last rack is aptly titled Alice. It starts innocent enough only to have the droning guitars collide with a brass section. The song does something rare for Sunn O))), it instills a sense of peace. I assume the tile comes from the feeling one gets when hearing this song. It gives you the feeling that you have gone down the rabbit hole of darkness only to come out to the light on the other side.

Too many bands try to cram 10 pounds of shit into a 5-pound bag and failed. Sunn O))) has tried this and has achieved success. Not because they added so much, but that they knew when and where to add it. The added talents of so many, such as Oren Ambarchi, Dylan Carlson, Steve Moore, Joe Preston, and Rex Ritter, might spell disaster for a lesser band. But this band is SUNN O))).


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