Music / Sunn O)))

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Sunn O))) (pronounced "sun") is an American experimental band formed in 1998 as a tribute to the Drone Metal band Earth, known to many for being Nightmare Fuel in band form. The band has two core members, Stephen O'Malley (also a member of Sludge Metal bands Khanate and Burning Witch, two bands that are near-equal to Sunn O))) in terms of scare power) and Greg Anderson (of Stoner Metal band Goatsnake). The band is named after the Sunn amplifier brand; in fact, the band's logo is near-identical to the Sunn amplifier logo.

Their genre is known as "drone doom", a subgenre of Doom Metal that fuses doom with ambient, drone and minimalist music, akin to Brian Eno; their songs are extremely long, extremely slow and extremely heavy, and use droning guitars accompanied by feedback and other sound effects to create their soundscapes. There is very little drumming (a lack of any discernible beat, in fact), although their collaboration album with Japanese band Boris features drumming from Atsuo, drummer for Boris. When performing live, the band members wear "grim robes", fill the air with fog, and play at an extremely high volume.note 

The band's current lineup:
  • Stephen O'Malley (guitars)
  • Greg Anderson (guitars)
  • Attila Csihar (vocals)

The band's discography:
  • The Grimmrobe Demos (demo, 1998)
  • ØØ VOID (2000)
  • Flight of the Behemoth (2001)
  • White 1 (2003)
  • White 2 (2004)
  • Black One (2005)
  • Altar (2006, collaboration with Boris)
  • Monoliths and Dimensions (2009)
  • Oracle (EP, 2009)
  • The Iron Soul of Nothing (2011, collaboration with Nurse with Wound)
  • Terrestrials (2014, collaboration with Ulver)
  • Soused (2014, collaboration with Scott Walker)
  • Kannon (2015)

Basically, they're one of the strangest bands ever. And you should never listen to them while stoned.


TRO)))PES that apply to this band:

  • Album Intro Track: "Sin Nanna" for Black One.
  • And I Must Scream: Described in the lyrics to "Báthory Erszébet."
  • Arc Words: "Maximum volume yields maximum results."
  • Badass Baritone: Even when he's not growling, Attila Csihar still has a very deep voice, as can be heard on "Aghartha."
  • Badass Beard: Greg Anderson has one.
  • Beneath the Earth: The lyrics of "Aghartha" (which is often given as the name of the land purported to exist by the Hollow Earth Theory) are about this.
  • Black Cloak: Their signature outfits when playing live.
  • Brown Note: Seeing them live. Due to the absolutely ludicrous volumes they play at combined with incredibly low frequencies, it is not uncommon for people to report any or all of the following symptoms during their concerts, even if they wear ear protection: nausea, dizziness, light headedness, physical discomfort, trancelike states, and occasionally, fainting. One person reported a painful vibrating feeling in his teeth that took nearly a week to go away.
    • As we've said earlier, it's disastrous to listen to Sunn O))) and smoke weed at the same time.
  • Credits Gag: Lots of them on Black One.
  • Crossover: With Earth, Boris, KTL, Merzbow, Attila Csihar, Nurse with Wound, and Ulver.
  • Doom Metal: Trope Codifier for drone metal.
  • Drone of Dread: Nearly everything they've put out.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: For the most part, Monoliths and Dimensions is an extremely dark and heavy album. However, the last song, "Alice", while starting off fairly ominously, slowly grows brighter in tone, until by the end it's outright Sweet Dreams Fuel.
  • Eldritch Location: "Aghartha" describes the eponymous underground land as one.
  • Epic Rocking: It depends on what you consider to be "epic" or "rocking", but their songs are indeed very long. A couple of them even last for forty minutes.
  • For Doom the Bell Tolls: A recurring theme, prevalent in such pieces as "Báthory Erzsébet" and "Big Church (Megszentségteleníthetetlenségeskedéseitekért)." There is also a loud one around one and a half minutes into "Cry for the Weeper".
  • Freak Out: Invoked and exploited. Malefic is claustrophobic, so when they had him record for a piece, they used it to their advantage. Specifically, they locked him in a coffin.
  • Genre Adultery: Altar, by the boatload.
  • Genre Roulette: A rather strange case: the band is firmly rooted in drone metal, but the band has experimented with many different influences including:
    • Musical contributions from Japanese noise artist Merzbow on Flight of the Behemoth.
    • Spoken word, Norwegian folk singing, drum machines, samples, and keyboards on White1.
    • Bass effects and Sanskrit vocals courtesy of Attila Csihar on White2.
    • Black Metal influences (in terms of music, vocals, and atmosphere) on Black One.
    • A collaboration with Boris and various guest musicians, touching on many different styles, on Altar.
    • Choirs, orchestra (yet still not sounding much like Symphonic Metal), jazz influences, and more Attila Csihar on Monoliths & Dimensions.
    • A very jazzy, electronic twist a la Terrestrials, their collaboration with Ulver.
    • A collaboration with Avant-garde Music pioneer Scott Walker on Soused.
    • A slightly lighter, more riff driven approach with more Attila on Kannon.
  • Harsh Vocals: They don't use this as often as you would expect, but Black One uses these exclusively. "Hunting and Gathering (Cydonia)" also has some pretty bestial vocals.
  • Heavy Mithril: A lot of their songs that have lyrics are centered around mythology and occultism.
  • Iconic Item: Their black cloaks and walls of amplifiers.
  • Indecipherable Lyrics: Quite common among their songs, at least the ones that have lyrics. Even with the lyric sheets, you sometimes still can't understand what's being said.
  • Irony: One of the most terrifying musical acts ever has band members that are scared of their own fans.
  • Jump Scare: After several minutes of subdued, hypnotic ambient noises, "Báthory Erszébet" suddenly explodes into the band's signature suffocating drone doom, complete with Malefic's tortured shrieks. Even if you know it's coming it can still catch you off guard. "Cry For The Weeper" also does this, albeit with a much shorter intro section.
    • "Ash on the Trees", from their collaboration with Nurse with Wound, is punctuated with random, jarring noises like breaking glass or the sound of an industrial drill. It's pretty unsettling.
  • Last Note Nightmare: Several songs from Black One.
  • Letting the Air Out of the Band: The end of "Báthory Erszébet."
  • Lighter and Softer: Terrestrials, in comparison to the rest of their work. It's not even a metal album. Kannon is slightly this compared to earlier albums, but is still pretty dark and inaccessible.
  • Loudness War: Averted (!) with more recent work (e.g., Monoliths and Dimensions, Terrestrials to name a few). Played straight with earlier records, though Flight of the Behemoth is mixed as loud as possible with almost no clipping, save for the Merzbow collaborations.
    • Soused (a collaboration with Scott Walker), is a borderline case, which is unusual since neither artist is known for brickwalling their albums.
  • Mind Screw: The occult poem read by Julian Cope on "My Wall."
  • Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: 10, easily. Probably just as hard to listen to as many artists at 11, though.
    • Some of their songs reach up to 11. "Báthory Erzsébet" is a good example. Also, anything they play live is guaranteed to reach 11 or even higher.
  • New Sound Album: Monoliths and Dimensions, which is much more musically varied than previous albums. Nobody's complaining, though—AllMusicGuide even considers it their best work.
  • Nightmare Fuel: Both out-of and in-universe: "Báthory Erzsébet." The "Calls from Beyond the Grave?" That's Malefic. They locked him on a coffin and loaded him in a hearse before recording. Why is he shrieking and hyperventilating? He's claustrophobic. He was panicking like nobody's business in there.
  • Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: On what occasions have they not been?
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: On "Big Church." "Decay" features Ominous Sanskrit Chanting courtesy of Attila Csihar.
  • Punny Name: The name of the band itself. It's a reference to both Sunn amplifiers and the band Earth.
  • Scary Musician, Harmless Music: Inverted. They make some of the most terrifying music ever put to tape, but they're shy, reserved people who are actually afraid of their fans.
  • Shout-Out: Stephen O'Malley has stated that the name was also chosen as a play on the name of the band Earth, the band that created drone-doom, whom Sunn O))) were formed as a tribute to. This is also the rationale behind the song titles of "Defeating: Earth's Gravity" and "Dylan Carlson" (the latter is the founding member of Earth).
    • "Alice" is a tribute to Alice Coltrane.
    • "My Wall" repeatedly mentions Johnny Guitar.
    • The full title of "FWTBT" is both a shout-out to Metallica's Cliff Burton and a Take That to the same band's Lars Ulrich.
  • Shrinking Violet: They're actually very shy and have said in interviews they are scared of their fans.
  • Spoken Word in Music: "My Wall" and "Aghartha" both use this.
  • Surprisingly Gentle Song: "The Sinking Belle" and "Alice."
  • Take That: The full title of "FWTBT" is "FWTBT (I Dream of Lars Ulrich Being Thrown Through the Bus Window Instead of My Mystikal Master Kliff Burton)".
  • Trope Codifier: Of drone metal.
  • True Companions: Greg Anderson and Stephen O'Malley. They've been playing music together for over 20 years.
  • Word Salad Title: Averted bizarrely with "Big Church (Megszentségteleníthetetlenségeskedéseitekért)", the subtitle of which is one of the longest words in the Hungarian language and translates to "due to your continuous pretending to be indesecratable." Which, considering the main title, makes a surprising amount of sense.


http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Music/SunnO