Re-released 2nd album
"Double-O Void", Sunn O)))'s out of print second recording from 2000; captures the moment when the band began to expand beyond the Earth aping sounds of their debut release "The Grimmrobe Demos" while still pursuing a heavier than thou manifesto. By now everyone knows about the immense physical properties of Sunn's sound and while I usually trust my regular speakers to give me all the sonic welter I need, on this occasion the only way to get the requisite 'Star Destroyer passing overhead' sound was to hook the stereo to my Marshall amp.
The trademark dark elemental power of main protagonists Greg Anderson and Stephen O'Malley is proffered on the opening track 'Richard' and given further low-end buzz by guest bassist Stuart Dahlquist. The massive, stumbling riff of low tuned bass and guitar ebbs ever so slowly like the inevitable descent of a sinking ship into the depths of the sea. The first gap in this relentless churn comes midway through the second song 'NNO)))' when the feedback begins to disintegrate over some faraway chanting. It is true that Sunn O))) don't set the pulse racing like much of the very best heavy metal but this is no one chord piss-takery it's a serious attempt to engage with deeply felt emotions of fear and isolation.
There's hardly a torrent of dynamics over the 58 minutes of this record more a pyroclastic flow of rock and filth rendered in crushing super slow-motion. Such is the level of elongated repetition that the normal A to B timeline associated with most popular music becomes moot as the sound begins to fold into itself becoming almost circular. There's no empathy or concern for the listener on "Double-O Void" as messrs Anderson and O'Malley let their misanthropic drone flood the amp's speaker - patience is required and ultimately rewarded.
In more recent times Sunn O))) have added electronic textures and various guest vocalists and collaborators to their signature sound of guitar, bass, distortion and feedback. The variation to the basic colossal set-up on "Double-O Void" was the addition of Pete Stahl and Petra Haden's vocals while the latter also added haunting violin on 'Richard'. Further outside influence exists in the form of 'Rabbit's Revenge' a rendition of an obscure Melvins song salvaged from a live tape that Greg Anderson had of the band playing in Seattle from March 1985. 'RA at Dusk' features some slashing, buzzing guitar chug which manages to sound like Ray Harryhausen's infamous skeleton army from Jason and the Argonauts marching toward you. Spooky but captivating.
While Sunn O))) have continued evolving beyond the sound as contained on "Double-O Void's" yawning grooves there is a great deal of satisfaction to be had being slowly enveloped by the grizzly, unadorned sonorousness of Anderson and O'Malley's repetitive doom-drone compositions as they were back in the early days.