By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)
Artist: Sunn O)))
Release Date: 12/4/15
Experimental drone metal act Sunn O))) have been on a winning streak for quite some time. After releasing two successful and critically-acclaimed collaborative LPs in 2014, Terrestrials with post-rock act Ulver and Soused with singer-songwriter Scott Walker, the duo have come closer to commercial success than ever. Not to mention serving as key figures in the current rising post-metal scene, Sunn O))) are undoubtedly a prominent force in a new era of heavy music.
Sunn O))) began with the duo purely relying on noise, guitar feedback, a wall of amplifiers and HEAVY droning riffs. Their ear-splitting sound fell somewhere in the outer limits of Doom Metal, Dark Ambient and Noise Rock. Over the years, the duo have incorporated more instrumentation such as percussion, synthesizers and the occasional vocal. Their recent collaborations branched out even further, lending their sound as the backdrop.
With their latest release, KANNON, Sunn O))) strip back to the basics of their sound and aesthetic. KANNON is the first non-collaborative release since 2009’s Monoliths and Dimensions, and finds the group returning to their guitar-led ambience. However, the three-track EP boasts little in sound progression. It sounds as though the band took little or nothing from their more recent projects, and stuck to what they do most notably. However, the three tracks on this release utilize noise to a stunning perfection in painting a picture of a world collapsing onto itself.
KANNON kicks off with ‘Kannon 1,’ a slow burner which does quite a nice job building its riffs into possibly the most unified track on the EP. The track constructs a very heavy ambience, probably heard best through a set of good headphones, leading seamlessly into the EP’s centerpiece, ‘Kannon 2.’ ‘Kannon 2 also does a good job of building its riffs, soaring into a menacing wall of ambience, but just as the track begins to climax, the feedback sustains, leaving the listener wanting more. Perhaps this was the point, but the near-abrupt and somewhat lackluster end leads one to indicate that the track may have been a bit underdeveloped.
By the time the third and final track, ‘Kannon 3,’ hits, Sunn O))) repeat themselves somewhat, with a track that almost sounds redundant and maybe a tad unnecessary. However, the atmosphere of ‘Kannon 3’ is unlike any of the others, not feeling out of place, but perhaps a bit after-the-fact. The darkness lingers over KANNON‘s final cut, offering a bitter sweet conclusion to an EP writhe with despair. It’s almost… soothing.
All in all, KANNON is yet another perfect example of what Sunn O))) do best. It’s a very back-to-basics release, that shouldn’t really come as much of a surprise. The only real hang-ups are that the EP is possibly a bit too short, or that these tracks may have been leftovers from a previous release. Either way, KANNON is still a chilling and fun listen, and probably a good introduction to the band. If one can hang with this release, then older records like Black One and Monoliths and Dimensions are undoubtedly must-listens.