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Thunderous, resonant

July 8, 2009
Attila Csihar from <i>Monoliths & Dimensions</i> liner. Cyanotype by Mathilde Darel.

Attila Csihar from Monoliths & Dimensions liner. Cyanotype by Mathilde Darel.

Monoliths & Dimensions is coursing through my head, and I am not listening to it. I posted some extremely impressionistic notes taken during a listening preview of this newest SUNN O))) release, which fell far short of a review (so I didn’t call it a review). But it’s staying with me and I’m compelled to write more about it.

On O’Malley’s blog (scroll way down to June 11 entry), I read an interview with Attila Csihar, whose vocal presence on the album may be the single most deranging element of the entire effort. In the interview, Csihar confirms a few intuitions I had about his extremely affecting, otherworldly utterances, establishing a surprising link between this recent doom opus and several key industrial bands. “Surprising” because though it is now more common to hear it talked about as an inclusive genre, metal is still a movement with a strong sense of aesthetic purity.

However, if your flavor of extreme music tended toward the industrial, as mine did in the 80s, then underneath SUNN’s eruptive chords you will hear shades of Skinny Puppy, Coil, and even Laibach in some of the textures, instrumentation, and pacing of the album.

In particular compare “Choralone“ from Skinny Puppy’s 1989 release Rabies with SUNN’s “Agartha.” Of course Ogre’s vocals are heavily processed, and Csihar’s are not (or perhaps not nearly as much—more on that below). And try Coil’s “Cathedral in Flames” next to “Hunting & Gathering (Cydonia).” But it is hard not to think of the radically basso delivery of Laibach’s Milan Fras when listening to the first track, “Aghartha.” When the interviewer apparently cites Fras, Csihar explains the link:
“I was inspired by Laibach while I did those vocal lines,” he says. “I didn’t know that it was that obvious, but that’s great. I was always amazed by Milan’s voice, how he could go that deep down, and it took me many years of practicing to be able to do that. Laibach was one of my biggest inspirations back in the ‘80s, besides Current 93, Skinny Puppy, Front Line Assembly, etc. And of course, some extreme underground metal bands like Celtic Frost.”

The first words on the album are, “Thunderous, resonant.” Attila Csihar, Milan Fras.

Original interview at CleveScene.

Earlier: In lieu of a review: SUNN O)))’s Monoliths & Dimensions, The look of metal today

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