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
Basically, they're one of the strangest bands ever. And you should never listen to them while stoned
Tropes that apply to Sunn O))):
- Arc Words - "Maximum volume yields maximum results."
- 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
- 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.
- Crossover: With Earth, Boris, KTL, Merzbow, Attila Csihar, Nurse With Wound, and Ulver.
- Doom Metal
- Drone of Dread - Nearly everything they've put out.
- 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.
- 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.
- Last Note Nightmare - Several songs from "Black One."
- Letting the Air out of the Band: The end of "Báthory Erszébet."
- 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.
- Their most recent album, Soused (a collaboration with Scott Walker), is a borderline case, which is unusual since neither artist is known for brickwalling their albums.
- 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.
- 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?
- Shout-Out: Stephen O'Malley has also 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).
- Shrinking Violet: They're actually very shy and have said in interviews they are scared of their fans.
- 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.
- Vague Cover Version: They sometimes reinterpret other artists' songs to fit their style; for example, "FWTBT" (a loose cover of "For Whom the Bell Tolls"), "Cursed Realms (of the Winterdemons)" (though they only use the lyrics), "Rabbit's Revenge"(Melvin's "Hung Bunny"), and "Báthory Erzsébet" (a very loose cover of "A Fine Day to Die").
- 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.