Life Metal

Life Metal

On their eighth studio album, Sunn O))) wanted to take their signature drone metal back to its most minimalist form. During the past decade, the Stephen O’Malley- and Greg Anderson-led unit ventured into a series of collaborations—with artists ranging from Norwegian experimental collective Ulver to the late singer/composer/producer Scott Walker—before releasing 2015’s Kannon, which incorporated death-metal growls into their guitar assaults. For Life Metal, the band hired studio veteran Steve Albini—whose recordings distill a band's bare essence—to capture their expansive, amplified noise live to tape. “Troubled Air” is mired in their typically impenetrable feedback, though a gleaming pipe organ (arranged by Australian composer Anthony Pateras) faintly clears the darkness toward the song’s end. The lumbering “Between Sleipnir’s Breaths”—inspired by the creature from Norse mythology—plays like an orchestral piece, contrasting trenchant dissonance with Icelandic composer Hildur Guðnadóttir’s ghostly vocals. Simplicity is at the core of these four lengthy tracks, but those unexpected elements—and O’Malley and Anderson's broader palette of sounds in general—add a newfound depth to the band's arsenal.

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