Sunn O))) is an undeniably influential experimental / drone metal band founded in Seattle in 1998. The duo of Shephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson is known for their deft manipulation of pure volume and harsh dissonance, in addition to collaborations with artists as diverse as Boris, Scott Walker, Ulver, and Julian Cope. Life Metal sees them add Steve Albini to that list, his studied yet rugged production returning the band to their roots of spine-tinglingly deep, dark riffs. The album was conceived of in Anderson’s LA studio, where synth innovator Tos Nieuwenhuizen contributed to songwriting and rehearsals. They then moved to Electrical Audio in Chicago, tracking this record and the to-be-released Pyroclasts. Life Metal features composer and frequent live collaborator Hildur Guðnadóttir on vocals and electric cello, Anthony Pateras on pipe organ, and Silkworm’s Tim Midyett on aluminum neck bass and baritone guitars. “Between Sleipnir’s Breaths” starts with a horse whinny swallowed immediately by dominant, vibrating guitar tones that seem to fill the entire frequency range, nearly swallowing up hesitantly sung verses cribbed from ancient Aztec poets. “Troubled Air” adds organ to dissonant guitar textures that seem to increase in volume as the the track plays out. “Novae” is nearly 30 minute closer, a colossus of overdriven cello hum and fitting denouement to an album that is turbulent in its stillness. The vinyl version of this album was recorded, mixed, and pressed in a completely analogue signal chain. The LP is packaged in a heavyweight tip-on style high-gloss gatefold sleeve with an obi strip.
- red & orange 'manifold' colored double vinyl pressing
- housed in gatefold jacket with obi strip + printed inner sleeves
- limited edition of 1000
- original release year: 2019
- music label: Southern Lord 2022
reviewed by STEWART YOUNG 09/2019