Domkirke is a document of a 2007 live performance by Sunn O))) in the atmospheric environment of Bergen Cathedral. Stretching far beyond the usual palette of infinitely-amped riff-crashing, these 4 side-long tracks feature plenty of organ and the dread vocals of Attila Csihar. It is an interesting corner of the Sunn O))) canon, a welcome reissue. 2LP on Southern Lord.
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This ever-so-slightly special entry in the Sunn O))) kanon sees the band lathering their drone all over the Bergen Cathedral, extending to us a few mysteries beyond the evil wizard robes and metal hand gestures. In spite of the album’s typical Sunn grandiosity, it’s those opening seconds that are disorientating. They offer us, of all things, a glimpse: we hear O’Malley, Anderson and their contingent of gloomy guests walk onto the creaking stage and assemble themselves, to the deafening silence of an audience who may as well be waiting for their children’s recital to begin. Are Sunn… people? Are they about to perform 'When The Saints Come Marching In'? Oh my goodness.
Unlike the Sunn you know, this record offers an airier and differently erudite kind of drone: the epic, twenty-minute riffs are sublimated with reverent vocals, growled from a burrowed corner of the earth or loudly exclaimed like a phantomed opera. Piercing organ centers much of the performance, the world’s loudest instrument stilling the room with its minute details; Sunn switch between the organ and the brooding hum of their guitars, but also introduce trumpet to go along with their shredding, as if trying to fill the cathedral with sound, rather than just creep ‘round its edges and splatter blood on the walls. Sunn are one of the loudest live acts you’ll ever see, of course, so hearing them perform live from this kind of distance is rather strange: you miss the way the amps would send tremors through your tummy, or the struggle to assemble your ear buds, and instead merely hear the slab of sound the band are pouring over.
It’s Attila's vocals that are most exciting: they bellow and whisper through the drones as if to suggest that something could actually live within the ecosystem of Sunn O))), as if it wouldn’t just get swallowed into the black hole of turgid metal. Sunn’s music is huge and ultimately ridiculous, so these vocals offer more pantomime. The crowd goes wild? Well, I do, anyway.
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