When you hear the name SUNN0))), you probably think of thick, drawn-out guitar sounds with enough low end to implode your mother’s head. Seemingly structureless and meandering yet crushingly oppressive “compositions” is the name of the game here – or at least, that used to be the name of the game. SUNN0))) purists may be a little disappointed to see the band take a new direction, which is exactly what “Black One” is. This isn’t just Drone anymore – this is Black Drone.
For the last few records, the core group of Greg Anderson (GOATSNAKE, TEETH OF LIONS RULE THE DIVINE) and Steven O’Malley (BURNING WITCH, KHANATE, TEETH OF LIONS RULE THE DIVINE) have teamed up with an impressive variety of musicians and this time around is no different. Guests this time include sonic archwizards Oren Ambarchi and John Wiese, as well as new school Black Metal gurus Wrest (LEVIATHAN) and Malefic (XASTHUR). The gestalt is something quite interesting – long, droning soundscapes, sometimes complimented by Anderson and O’Malley’s thick guitar drone and sometimes forgoing that approach in favor of a more layered, atmospheric sound, all topped off with chilling vocals courtesy of Wrest and Malefic. There have been lots of “soundtracks to Hell,” but in retrospect, “Black One” makes most of them sound like the soundtrack to a happy day in the park.
This record will appeal not only to the majority of SUNN0))) fans, but also to more open-minded Black Metallers. This isn’t exactly Black Metal, but it’s cold, it’s grim and it’s about as Black as anyone is going to get. “It Took The Night To Believe” adds typical Black Metal guitars into the droning mix and the IMMORTAL cover “Cursed Realms (Of The Winterdemons)” takes the song in an entirely new direction. The vocals of “Bathory Erzébet” were done by Malefic while locked inside of a casket, which, while campy, makes for an interesting listen.
“Black One” is very different from the usual SUNN0))) fare. It’s got a much more disjointed feel, a lot more variety and many vocal passages. A lot of the songs don’t really have much of the band’s typical guitarwork, but the newfound sense of vile ambience makes up for it. If you’re wanting to be bathed in pure aural evil without having to resort to the tired old derivative Black Metal bands that dominate a lot of the scene today, “Black One” is the way to go. (Online January 12, 2006)