Review: Sunn O))) – Pyroclasts

Sunn O))) return with the sister album to this year’s Life Metal. During the recording sessions of their last full length, Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson would play an improvised drone piece with their collaborators, T.O.S. Nieuwenhuizen, Hildur Guðnadóttir and Tim Midyett, and record these pieces to tape. Even if these pieces aren’t based of any track on Life Metal, the listener can still feel the same experience and relive to some extent Sunn’s last album.

Pyroclasts uniqueness is found in the simplicity of these four tracks. Thanks to the improvised quality of these pieces they transmit sheer sound pressure instead of leaning on a pre-defined composition leading to a different state of mind while hearing the tracks. For example, in ‘Between Sleipnir’s Breaths’, the poem sung by Hildur and the other instruments that support the droning guitars bring more complexity to the song while ‘Frost’ relies only on just the drone which gives a completely different feel to the listener, albeit leading them to a higher plain of calmness as well.

In all Pyroclasts further cements this year’s change for Sunn’s sound. Although they are still as monolithic as they were on their previous albums, this year has marked a new era in their sound, largely owing to Albini’s production, which has made everything fuller and clearer sonically with an added sense of bliss that contrasts with the bleak sounds they are best known for. Pyroclasts is an extension of this new path the band are taking whereas Life Metal explored these new characteristics as an added layer to their compositions. Definitely not a simple spin, Pyroclasts creates a league of its own as snapshot of Sunn’s experimentation and sonic exploration undertaken throughout their recording sessions at Electrical Audio. 

Pyroclasts is out 25th October via Southern Lord and can be purchased here.

You can read a taster of our interview with Sunn O))) here. The full interview is available in Astral Noize Issue 5 which can be purchased here.

Words: Benjamim Gomes

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