s there an instrument that is more punk than bagpipes? Presumably designed in the Middle Ages, these things were meant to be played over long distances. Nowadays the only time you hear them is in parades, thousands of times closer in range than they were ever meant to be played. This is part of the reason that Sun O))) guitarist Stephen O’Malley most likely picked up the instrument in his formative years. Because listening to any of Sunn O)))’s recordings is a lesson in endurance for untoward noise and sound that never should have been created.
O’Malley and Greg Anderson have, though, and we’re all the better for it. White 2 is the sequel to White 1, following in its grand tradition of enveloping drones, stalled riffs and overwhelming song lengths. Tracks here come in at 14, 23 and 25 minutes. But, as you might have guessed, this type of metal needs time to develop and needs to time to take your soul over. Sun O))) have the time. Do you?
“HELL-O)))-WEEN”, the opening salvo, is the easiest track to understand. Riffing is present throughout. It’s just slower than you’ve probably ever heard it. It’s also the point at which the group gets closest to its self-professed objective: “to create trance like soundscapes with the ultimate low end/bottom frequencies intended to massage the listeners intenstines into a act of defecation”. With friends like this…
Believe it or not, it gets better. “bassAliens” is a nightmare trip through a dark underworld fraught with eerie guitar tones, flicked out into the ether without a hope of ever coalescing into a melody. Tiny moments of disruption are the main focus here, though, as the song focuses on the micro, rather than “HELL-O)))-WEEN”’s overdose on the macro.
The final nail in the coffin is “Decay2 (NIHIL’S MAW)”. Featuring guest vocalist Attila Csihar, the duo builds a terrifying droning backdrop for his strangled vocals/screams to emerge from. As the track moves along his vocals become more and more recognizable until they are nearly all that remain at the 24-minute mark. And then, just as suddenly as it started, it’s over.
Sun O))) are easily the best at what they do. Their eternal struggle to create the best testament to the legendary drone metal visionaries Earth has brought them to a place where they have best approximated them and have charted territories that the band never touched. If looking for the ideal starting place for this type of music, you could do worse than White 2.