Sunn O))) is one of the most unique groups of all time and I am proud to say that despite what I probably have made you believe about my views on music, they are also one of my favorite bands of all time. Sunn O))) is a group of slightly older guys that are freakishly crazy about enormous tube amps with speaker cabinets the size of a small refrigerator. In fact, they’re named after a brand of guitar and bass amps that were made from the 60s through the mid-80s. For those of you that can’t figure out how the hell to pronounce their name, it’s simply pronounced “sun”. When people ask me if I like Sunn O))), I always say that I LOVE both the band and the amp. I’m a bassist and have actually had the pleasure to hook my fretless bass guitar up to one of these dinosaurs; even though I have yet to experience the pleasure of having one as my own. This is the re-release of their first album and I currently own it on 180 gram vinyl.
If you’re going to tell me that “this isn’t music! It’s just all noise and guitar feedback!” you’d be right. Although music knows no limits, I personally don’t consider Sunn O))) to be musical at all (but I wouldn’t be surprised if there are people out there that do). For those of you that haven’t read any of my Xasthur reviews, I said that the reason people like this stuff isn’t because of the musicians’ skill or creativity, they like it because of the emotions that it creates within the listener. Xasthur is a great example of that, although there are tons of creative guitar lines. Sunn O))) on the other hand takes this statement to extreme heights. Here’s what I want you to do, look up either this album or the song Flight of the Behemoth, turn off ALL the lights, and play the music at a loud volume (as loud as you feel like). The people that listen to this music surrender to it, letting the music encircle them and flow through them freely. Sunn O))) hypnotizes me whenever I listen to them; I get sucked in by them more than any other band has ever before. Warning: results may vary, I’m guaranteeing that the music will create strong emotions if you let it; I’m not saying the listening experience will always be pleasant. In my case, though, it’s pleasant every time.
This particular record consists of two guitars and a bass guitar that are tuned down so low I can’t even tell what the hell it is. There are no drums anywhere in the album, making the ambience and atmosphere reach extreme levels while leaving virtually no tempo for you to nod your head to; all you can do is just sit, close your eyes, and listen. When I listen to this band, I’m not looking for them to keep me engaged, not be repetitive, or be creative. In fact, I literally can’t due to the fact of not being able to acknowledge or think while listening to them because of them virtually encircling me and pulling me in with no signs of letting me go.
Obviously, I got the vinyl version because I think that it sounds better than an electronic copy or a CD. For those of you old farts out there that lived through the 70s, you should be able to understand what I’m saying when I tell you my dad is an “audiophile”. For those of you that have no idea what the fuck I’m talking about, there were two types of vinyl LPs: regular ones, and audiophile ones (yes I know that there are others like quadraphonic, etc.). Audiophile LPs sound literally 100 times better than regular LPs because they weigh more, sort of like how today’s Super Audio CDs sound a million times better than regular CDs. And when a person is reffered to as an audiophile, it means they’re a freak about super high-quality sound. When I handed my dad the record, he could tell right off the bat that it was audiophile grade because of how heavy it was. So now I know that 180 gram vinyl is today’s way of saying audiophile. And you can tell when listening to it that it sounds SO MUCH BETTER! The amount of bass is inconceivable and everything about the sound couldn’t be any more clean and crisp.
Here’s another thing about Sunn O))) that you might find surprising. Sunn O)) is HUGE. They play in huge venues and have played sold-out shows around the world. Why the hell is there so many people racing to get tickets to their shows? Obviously you can tell just by looking at the almost immediate success of this band that there was an underlying hunger for this kind of music already stirring amongst metalheads. Their concerts are described as having loads of stage smoke and the music being played at EXTREMELY high volumes. I WILL BE THE FIRST PERSON TO BUY A TICKET TO THEIR NEXT SEATTLE SHOW!!
The album consists of four songs that drag on for more than 15 minutes; which is the reason why this is a double LP with one song on each side. The album artwork on the re-release is astonishing and much more attractive and professional than the original artwork. I could go on and on in detail about my experiences listening to this band, but this is a review that is supposed to motivate YOU to find out what kind of experience this band will present to you. Like I said before, the experience is different for everyone, and this isn’t a time where you pay attention to the music part, it’s for opening yourself to the monotonous droning of guitars and letting it enclose you.
Even though the monotonous droning of guitar feedback and low bass tones can get old after a while, this is a listening experience that no one should be able to say they’ve never gone through. My love for this album is immense and I hope to see them in concert very soon because I will not be able to wait very much longer. I would HIGHLY recommend this to EVERYONE; but I’m not going to guarantee you’ll like it at all. I would give this album a perfect score and would like to see you leave a comment saying you own a physical copy of this album. And keep in mind that it’s available on CD too; I got the LP because it’s a “cream” colored version and it was relatively inexpensive.