If you’ve never heard of Sunn O))) or the “drone metal” scene they helped pioneer, you should in no way feel behind the curve, despite the astounding amounts of hype and critical praise their newest album, Life Metal, is currently receiving.
Over their 20 year run, the Seattle band has grown a dedicated narrow but passionate cult following while honing an incredibly unique sound that uses the crushing guitar tones of sludge and doom metal to create extensive ambient pieces.
On their latest effort, Sunn O))) takes this concept and strips it down to its most fundamental basics. The entire album is performed on an electric guitar, with heavily-distorted chords struck slowly and methodically throughout four absolute odysseys of songs that last between 12 and 25 minutes a piece. Mind you, when I say, “slowly and methodically,” I truly mean it. Roughly 90% of the album consists of chords that are sustained for at least 15 seconds. Every single chord is meant to shake the listener to their very core, and it’s nothing short of impressive that the band creates such a towering, crushing wall of sound with a single guitar.
Suffice to say, the style of music Sunn O))) has created is at its rawest here, and to that extent Life Metal is incredibly polarizing. There is a reason that the band maintains such a niche yet dedicated fanbase, since their music will either captivate you completely or bore you to tears. That said, in no way, shape, or form does ‘Life Metal’ break new ground for the band or the genre, especially not to such an extent that it will or should win over the general favor of a wider audience.
If you’re a fan of Sunn O))), drone metal or ambient-leaning styles of music, this may very well be your Album of the Year. If not, or if you remain at all skeptical of the hype surrounding Life Metal, there is very little chance the album will win you over.
When Tyler isn’t busy nerding out about new music, video games, beer or some random new coding project he picked up, he can be found writing for, performing with or shamelessly plugging his mathy indie rock band, Becoming A Ghost.