Thursday, October 30, 2008
Sunn O))) - Domkirke (C)
Sunn O)))’s latest masterpiece, Domkirke, is marketed as a “live album”, it really is just an original studio album that happens to have been recorded in a church in Norway in front of a crowd of what sounds to be about 10 people (all of whom I assume are either involved in the band, trained sound technicians, or close friends invited to witness the momentous occasion) if the clapping at the beginning of the album is to be believed. After the tremendous display of clapping, Sunn choose to start off the only way they know… Slowly. Why Dost Thou Hide Thyself in Clouds is, for me, possibly one of the greatest things Sunn has produced in their entire career. The first five minutes of low feedback eventually gives into pipe organ and deep, Gregorian chants. As the sparse, but powerful backing (dominated by the church’s featured pipe organ) plods onwards, the vocals go for a dramatic tromp through Norway’s mountain ranges, belting like a Wagnerian epic only to reduce themselves to the rumbling valleys once again like a cascading avalanche. This song, in the end, is what made Domkirke a worthwhile purchase. It truly demonstrates that Sunn, for all the shit they get (refrigerator metal, no talent hacks, just lean your guitar against your amp, anyone can do it, etc.), truly do maintain the ability to take their entire history and improve upon it time after time, and turn something admittedly intrinsically stagnant into a refreshing and enjoyable piece. As for the rest of the album, Sunn take a few more steps forward by allowing their influences to shine through like elegant stained glass – Steve Moore provides trombone on some tracks that adds elements of newer Earth pieces, while retaining the noisy despair of Sunn. The songwriting really displays Sunn’s functional use of the church’s space, as well as paying homage to its past. Domkirke, is, in my opinion, while not necessarily going to be hailed as “THE BEST SUNN ALBUM EVER!” easily a marked improvement on Sunn’s material, and a great step forward for them. It is a solid album from start to finish.