Rating:
8.0
Sunn O))) - Monoliths & Dimensions
18 May 2009


01. Aghartha
02. Big Church (Megszentségteleníthetetlenségeskedéseitekért)
03. Hunting & Gathering (Cydonia)
04. Alice


It's drone, Jim, but not as we know it. One of metal's most theatrical and divisive sonic-generators, Sunn O))), return to greet us with what is often regarded as their most appeasing creation: Monoliths & Dimensions, dragging in tow a veritable armada of guest musicians (apparently nearly three dozen) ranging from classical artists, a drone progenitor (Dylan Carlson no less) and a certain infamous, and slightly demented, voice of black metal persuasion, all contributing to, in varying degrees, what is likely Sunn O)))'s most expansive and diverse vision to date.

For the most part, the familiar down-tuned, sustained chords - of which, through a single stroke, one could probably watch the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy before seeing its progression - make a welcome return, as brown noise-inducing and perception challenging as ever, but this time serving as but a bed for the avant-garde nuances of instrumentation so typically foreign to the shores of drone. Garnished throughout the first three tracks are generous portions of jazz, brass and strings, affording an almost Elend-like classical quality to the usual, impenetrable dirges, accompanied by a vocal choir led by Jessika Kenney which conflicts in organised dichotomy with Attila Csihar's spoken passages. In fact, there are so many facets that identifying each would be a mammothian task in itself.

The bewildering array of classical elements, while being an undoubted source of its brilliance, also serve to occasionally hinder the overall effect when taken to frequent extremes: the adroit implementation of minimalism too often gives way to what is sometimes an effusive exercise in over-the-top gimmickry; Attila's croaks are too ever-present, and the haphazard splicing of chanting and brass occur far too frequently to give a truly organic and concise arrangement, sometimes to the point where one longs for the more simple constructs of White2. It's all great, but just a bit too much of a good thing; letting the boys breathe a little would have done wonders. With this is mind, the crux of the album is most certainly "Alice" (dedicated to the late Alice Coltrane - a jazz musician and composer), a beautifully considered and stark piece of audio artistry, encapsulating the dark, yet heavenly, ambient sound which Sunn O))) exemplify. Combined with a slowly rising crescendo of horn, trombone and soothing guitar it serves to medicate against the concrete slabs that are the three tracks prior.

Sunn O))) may not be everyone's cup of Earl Grey, but if you're ever going to appreciate them it'll most likely be through Monoliths & Dimensions and while it may not totally please drone purists (if there is such a thing, maybe it's just me) there are moments of a permeating presence and feel of unfettered genius throughout its walls of filmic majesty and muck that run even deeper than the staggering cover art by Richard Serra.

Performance: 8
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 9
Production: 8


Band profile: Sunn O)))
Album: Monoliths & Dimensions


 


written by !J.O.O.E.! | 25.05.2010


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.



Comments

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Mikyz - 26.05.2010 at 19:41  
Accurate review, I mostly agree with everything you said but who the hell is Jim ?
!J.O.O.E.! - 26.05.2010 at 19:49  
Written by Mikyz on 26.05.2010 at 19:41

Accurate review, I mostly agree with everything you said but who the hell is Jim ?

James T. Kirk - it's a play on a somewhat overused Star Trek phrase/lyric: "It's life, Jim, but not as we know it"
Mikyz - 26.05.2010 at 19:54  
Written by !J.O.O.E.! on 26.05.2010 at 19:49

Written by Mikyz on 26.05.2010 at 19:41

Accurate review, I mostly agree with everything you said but who the hell is Jim ?

James T. Kirk - it's a play on a somewhat overused Star Trek phrase/lyric: "It's life, Jim, but not as we know it"


Ah ok, not really a Star Trek follower...
!J.O.O.E.! - 26.05.2010 at 19:56  
Written by Mikyz on 26.05.2010 at 19:54

Written by !J.O.O.E.! on 26.05.2010 at 19:49

Written by Mikyz on 26.05.2010 at 19:41

Accurate review, I mostly agree with everything you said but who the hell is Jim ?

James T. Kirk - it's a play on a somewhat overused Star Trek phrase/lyric: "It's life, Jim, but not as we know it"


Ah ok, not really a Star Trek follower...

You're missing out ;}
Uirapuru - 26.05.2010 at 20:29  
Whoa. Awesome review. Needed a dictionary to fully understand (yeah.. I confess ), but I guess I get it enough.

Attila's voice does seem a high and low point in the album, his first appearence on ''Aghartha'' was a scary and good surprise... the problem is that he never shut up...

I like to somehow reach a trance state while listening to Sunn O))), and it is pretty easy to achieve, but Attila's constant speaking keep dragging me back to consciousness... and I just can't enjoy Sunn O))) the same way in that ''counscious'' state... XD

Still.. this was one of their best albums imo. Slightly better than Black One but still not enough to surpass White2.
!J.O.O.E.! - 26.05.2010 at 20:35  
Written by Uirapuru on 26.05.2010 at 20:29

Slightly better than Black One but still not enough to surpass White2.

Thanks very much for your compliment =] Glad to see someone else thinks White2 is the best, most people seem to rate Black One as top. And I completely agree about enjoyment through a trance-like state ;]
MétalNoir - 02.07.2010 at 19:30  
"...there are moments of a permeating presence and feel of unfettered genius throughout its walls of filmic majesty and muck that run even deeper than the staggering cover art by Richard Serra."

Wow, I love reviews that almost require a dictionnary at hand to be read ^^ But I've been searching for these good moments you mention and coudn't pinpoint them within the looong tracks. Can you please mention the greatest moments and the time at which they appear so I can decide if I like this band?
!J.O.O.E.! - 02.07.2010 at 19:59  
Written by MétalNoir on 02.07.2010 at 19:30

"...there are moments of a permeating presence and feel of unfettered genius throughout its walls of filmic majesty and muck that run even deeper than the staggering cover art by Richard Serra."

Wow, I love reviews that almost require a dictionnary at hand to be read ^^ But I've been searching for these good moments you mention and coudn't pinpoint them within the looong tracks. Can you please mention the greatest moments and the time at which they appear so I can decide if I like this band?

Haha, that's an extremely hard question to answer as most of the transcendental moments come from build ups of previous sections or movements; you can't really say "listen to 3:27 to 5:14: that's a moment of genius" as it would be out of context, never more so with an album such as this which generally defies most conventions. I'd concentrate on the last track "Alice" - its slow and subtle but tense build up to brass in the later parts of the song. You can't really force it with this kind of music, there's little instant gratification like you find in a death metal record, it takes a little patience.

Though my general advice for listening to music you're not sure about (or new to) is to just listen to it a shitload. I had to listen to Darkthrone's Transilvanian Hunger dozens of times before I understood what the hell was going on. Doesn't matter how used you are to fast, heavy music, it all plays by the same rules, this kind of thing often has a bit of a learning curve to it.
wormdrink414 - 17.02.2011 at 06:03  
I think I heard someone call Sunn O))) "kitchen appliance metal" in the forum. If so, props to them. If not, props to me.
BitterCOld - 17.02.2011 at 06:16  
Written by wormdrink414 on 17.02.2011 at 06:03

I think I heard someone call Sunn O))) "kitchen appliance metal" in the forum. If so, props to them. If not, props to me.


there is a parody drone project mocking them.

\\\Maytag

wormdrink414 - 17.02.2011 at 07:08  
Quote:
Quote:


there is a parody drone project mocking them.

\\\Maytag



adace1 - 29.12.2011 at 13:53  
Didn't really care for this band or album for quite a while but it clicked today. This band and Boris are masters of drone and I give this album a solid 9/10. It's definitely their best one yet.

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