I first heard Sun O)))) when they appeared on the soundtrack to the Jarmusch film “The Limits of Control”, where they collaborated with the Japanese drone metal band Boris. Having just seen and loved Boris the week prior at the ATP festival, I was eager to get the other side of the story. I received a warning from the show promoters earlier that day via Email.

You may notice all of SUNN O)))’s albums feature their mantra MAXIMUM VOLUME YIELDS MAXIMUM RESULTS. The Blackened Music Series will be adhering to SUNN O)))’s wishes for this performance. The Brooklyn Masonic Temple is not restricted by any noise limitations. This show will be loud. This will be a show you will feel with your entire body. Please fortify yourself accordingly.

As you might imagine, this only enticed me more. My boy Marcus, who was going to the show too, swore that this was an ominous warning about the much-fabled “brown note” (South Park).

The show began with a burst of smoke from a smoke machine, and some kind of recording of druid chanting. This brought cheers from the crowd, who were eager to have their faces melted off. Not so fast, thought Sun O)))). The druid chanting continued… and continued… and continued…while smoke filled up not only the stage, but the entire auditorium. This was no quick operation. We stood there for what must have been 20-30 minutes, while the fog slooooooowwwwly rolled in from the stage. Reaction from the crowd was part restlessness, part bewildered amusement. The fog eventually got so fucking thick you literally could not see 30 feet in front of you. The stage was completely obscured except for the red lights above.



Thirty minutes later, outta nowhere, a loud crunchy guitar chord BOOMED from somewhere out of the fog. Like the bass scream of that creature from that movie Cloverfield. The crowd roared. Finally! Let’s get it started. Like I said, you couldn’t even see the stage anymore, allowing the band to literally sneak out there under cover of fog sometime in the previous half hour. Hilarious.

So the droning began. Simply one guitar and one bass, turned up to 1000, down-tuned to some Hellish off-key pitch that only a demon could love. And it was LOUD. Loud and slow as molasses on a winter’s day. No drums. Just an endless droning combination of bass and guitar playing the same note for as long as the feedback could sustain it, before a slight chord change drags it up or down a notch. Did I mention this was loud? It was fucking LOUD. Deafening. Like being inside the slowly churning bowels of some great behemoth.

Twenty minutes in to their set, you could still barely see them. If you concentrated really hard, occasionally you would see some hint of a guy in a wizard’s robe, somewhere in the mist. But only for a moment, and then he’d be gone again. Hilarious. Eventually, a third robed wizard appeared. He began speaking in one of those evil death metal voices, reciting some long abstract poem about something evil like a dark chasm or some shit. His voice was amplified to such an absurd degree that it was just as loud and bass-filled as the guitars. Each word was a kick in the throat.

So now it’s 45 minutes in, and you’re thinking to yourself “yeah, I guess this is pretty interesting”. And it was, however I wasn’t sure if it could hold my attention for two hours. But apparently Sun O)))) was way ahead of me.

The evil poet wizard receded back in to the mist, and a newer, much much more evil wizard appeared. This wizard was something entirely different. He wore a huge robe made from shards of broken mirrors, and a gigantic crown made from the same – like a bizarro statue of liberty from the ninth plane of Hell. His voice was about 50 times as loud and 50 times as deep and bass-filled and he was altogether 1000 times more evil than the previous Def Jam poet. And if that wasn’t enough, he soon unfolded his clenched fists to reveal that all of his fingertips were red lasers that shot out in straight lines wherever he pointed his hands. Given the pea-soup thickness of the fog, you can only imagine how incredibly dramatic and effective this little theatrical trick was. And when he turned his hands inward, towards his face and head, the red lasers bounced off of all the mirror shards and created this incredibly evil spectacle of red laser spikes bouncing off of him and out in to the room. It was fucking SICK.


The whole time, I could only wonder what the staff of the venue must have thought of all of this. Walking in on it unprepared, one could easily assume that the dark lord himself had finally appeared to reign Hell on the earth, and this was a black mass of his minions awaiting instructions.

The satanic figure on stage was one Atila Csihar, singer for the legendary Norwegian black metal band Mayhem. Mayhem is one of the foundation bands of the Norwegian black metal scene. Sadly, they are most famous for having their first singer commit suicide and their guitarist stab their drummer 23 times or some shit. The band made necklaces from the skull fragments of their first singer. His vocals with Sun O)))) were an impressive array of evil black metal chanting and satanic incantations mixed with guttural droning noises that sounded an evil version of tibetan throat singing. And, of course, it was all amplified to a terrifying decibel level, where one word from him would rattle your ribcage for days. All while the other two wizards continued these loooooong slooooooow roaring chords. Occasionally the first poet wizard would play a long note on the trombone. It was bananas. It was awesome.

Later on Atila disappeared in to the fog and soon returned wearing a soiled burlap sack, with only his head one one arm visible. His right arm was made out of what looked liked twisted twigs and rotting apples. His face looked like a mask of dripping wax. He wore a crown of more twisted twigs. It was both terrifying and hilarious.


All in all, this Sun O)))) show was fucking bad-ass. An endurance test to be sure, but well worth it if you can appreciate satanic theater of the absurd (and you own a set of earplugs).

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