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Neil Gardner
Neil Gardner 21 May 2009 at 16.00


An album destined to confound expectations...

Celebrating a decade as Sunn O))), with ‘Monoliths and Dimensions’ Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson have traversed their gravest journey from darkness into light and delivered their most diverse and challenging album to date. Alongside regular live cohorts Mayhem vocalist Attila Csihar and guitarist Oren Armbachi, the Sunn O))) camp has been expanded to include classical arranger Eyvind Kang, jazz trombonist Steve Priester and Earth’s Dylan Carlson and Steve Moore. The opening ‘Aghartha’, a nod to Seventies-era Miles Davis, picks up where the gnarled metal of ‘Black One’ left off, with Csihar gravely intoning over gargantuan churning guitars and skeletal strings. The mystical ‘Big Church’ is a big departure however, as the atonal shrieks of a Viennese women’s choir are cut asunder by a Morricone-esque bell before a tidal wave riff comes crashing back in amid a Kang arrangement that creaks eerily like a listing ship. The dense cyclical riffage of ‘Hunting & Gathering’ betrays the band’s most obvious debt to ‘Earth 2’ while the becalmed closer ‘Alice’s burbling woodwinds and brass bring the album to a beautiful, if highly unexpected close. An album destined to confound expectations, 'Monoliths...' is a supreme achievement that’s guaranteed to blow your mind along with your speakers.

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