Sunn O))) and Boris
Altar


4.5
superb

Review

by ValiumMan USER (17 Reviews)
December 3rd, 2006 | 104 replies | 11,122 views


Release Date: 2006 | Tracklist

Review Summary: This unusually even collaboration serves as a good starting point for people who want to either discover the dark soundscapes of Sunn O))) or get into Boris's more experimental side, due to its (relative) accessibilty.

4 of 4 thought this review was well written

There's those moments in music, when two great artists you really like record a collaborative album, and you'll think this collaborative album will be the thing you've been waiting for since you started listening to those two artists, but the actual result of the collaboration is the exact opposite: a goddamn piece of crap. Remember those two albums Jello Biafra made with The Melvins, for instance? I mean, they weren't bad or anything, in fact they were rather good, but they sounded like the Dead Kennedys resurrected, and not like the Melvins playing songs written and sung by J. Lo Biafra! See what I mean? The collaboration was too one-sided, probably because the Melvins and Jello don't have a lot in common, musically, and they just couldn't find a way to fuse their respective styles.

But what happens when two bands that seem like they're bound for collaborting "do it" with each other? Or, more precisely, what happens when two of the most exciting Avant Doom Metal bands, North America's Sunn O))) and Japan's Boris decide to work "as one creative unit", as they say? The result is called Altar and is, quite frankly, pretty goddam genius. It fits well within Boris's catalog of "experimental" album, and is, at the same time, more varied and accessible than anything Sunn O))) have ever Dunn O))), while still retaining their "specical feel".

Altar starts out with Etna. At this point you'll think "Hell, is this one of those o' (or rather O)))) those one-sided collabs again", because for the first few minutes it sounds like anything Sunn O))) recorded in the past 7 years. Low-end guitar/bass drones, but the sludgefest is soon joined Boris skinsman Atsuo's powerful, crazed drumming and some classic Wata (FEMALE(!!!!) Boris guitarist) feedback. So the whole thing ends up being a slow-building fusion of the sound of both bands. Now, that's how a collab should sound! Shame on you Jello and Buzzo! (N.L.T. is just a short sequel of Etna and not really noteworthy.)

Track 3, The Sinking Belle comes as something of a surprise. I mean, I always knew that Boris had some melodic pop senibilities (remember Farewell, from their glorious album Pink?), but Mr. Stephen O'Malley and Mr. Greg Anderson? No way! I wonder who persuaded them into actually participating on this track. The song is a really melodious piece of shoegazer pop that consists of a piano wrapped in gentle-sounding guitar drones (you prolly won't believe me, but that's what it is!) and fronted by the somber, low (for a woman) voice of alt. country singer Jesse Sykes.

Akuma No Kuma on the other hand, soups up the same sound we heard in Etna with bizarre synths and a typical vocal delivery by Joe Preston (Earth, Melvins, Thrones, High On Fire, lord knows what else). The title means something like "Bear Demon", BTW.

Fried Eagle Mind starts in the same melodic shoegazer heaven that The Sinking Belle occupied before (Jesse Sykes on vocals yet again) and slowly descends into amp noise hell.

The final song, the 14-minute Blood Swamp is the most purely Sunn O)))-sounding track on here, but it still has a few twists, such as a warm, melodic synth and a feedback-heavy, undermixed lead guitar.

Even though Altar is a lot lighter and more mellow than what Sunn O))) are usually up to, the whole album retains quite a bit of their typically subtle sense of darkness. Even The Sinking Belle and Fried Eagle Mind have a strong undercurrent of doom and gloom, Sunn-style, and the sense of exploration, Boris-style definitely adds to it.

In conclusion, this unusually even collaboration serves as a good starting point for people who want to either discover the dark soundscapes of Sunn O))) or get into Boris's more experimental side, due to its (relative) accessibilty.



Recent reviews by this author
Om PilgrimageKing Crimson Larks' Tongues in Aspic
Fennesz Endless SummerBattles Mirrored
John Coltrane Interstellar SpaceFaust Faust So Far
user ratings (161)
Chart.
3.9
excellent
other reviews of this album
PropaneNightmares (5)
Altar is a great collaboration album that gives you what you wanted and throws in a few enjoyable su...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Jom
Staff Reviewer
December 3rd 2006



2591 Comments


Real nice review, dude. Kage has incessantly whored this band to me but I haven't checked them out quite yet. My only suggestion is to take it easy on the parentheticals next time around.

ValiumMan
December 3rd 2006



493 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks, dude.
'Bout the parentheticals: A lot of people say I use too many of 'em whenever I write something, but I just love them. They're kinda part of my style, y'know, and never EVER get rid of them. Simple as that. :D

Jom
Staff Reviewer
December 3rd 2006



2591 Comments


Haha, fair enough.

ValiumMan
December 3rd 2006



493 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

True, but who cares?

Kage
December 3rd 2006



1173 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Kickass review, man. I really enjoyed reading it and I agreed with every word. Fantastic album.

ValiumMan
December 3rd 2006



493 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks once again. I've basically only gotten positive response for any of my reviews now so far (even though it's only 5). That makes me happy and encourages me to write more. So in that sense, thanks to everyone who ever gave me positive feedback and/or clicked the lil' "well written" button.

Kage
December 3rd 2006



1173 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yes, keep writing please.

JordanS
December 3rd 2006



319 Comments


This is an excellent CD, I was thinking about reviewing it for a long while but dont suppose I will now. I thought it was a bit funny that Kim Thayil played on Blood Swamp yet you would never ever know it. Hopefully Sunn's next CD will be slightly more accessible than this, since that appeals to me much more.

_Mote_
December 3rd 2006



33 Comments


They played this a while ago in my local record store, and I was blown away.

I've been meaning to pick this up, but I can't find it anymore

Neoteric
December 3rd 2006



3243 Comments


more varied and accessible than anything Sunn O))) have ever Dunn O)))
Ohh the wit of it all :p

Great review, I really like your writing. I also want to listen to this, it seems really interesting.

ValiumMan
December 5th 2006



493 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I'd like to make a factual correction. I won't alter my review though, since I'm a lazy guy.

As I just found out surfin' the web, Wata is singing lead on Fried Eagle Mind, not Jesse Sykes, even though I'd never have known.

About Kim Thayil: I knew he played on Blood Swamp, but forgot it. Don't matter anyway.

any14doomsday
December 18th 2006



678 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

The opening track on this is killer. But its downhill from there for me. I think I expected way to much from this cd. I was hoping for some killer drone, but didnt really get it. None of the tracks are really bad, but there just not that great.

any14doomsday
April 23rd 2007



678 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I take the bad things back, I have let my expectations go, and have started to dig this a lot more, I even just ordered the 3x LP box set.

Slaapkamers
April 23rd 2007



596 Comments


"Blood Swamp" is the best one.

Mirror.Circuit
September 7th 2007



223 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This album is great,through and through.

cbmartinez
September 7th 2007



2525 Comments


This is a fantastic album but shouldn't this be under "Sunn o))) and Boris." I think there's already a music profile for them.

blackmilk
September 7th 2007



584 Comments


yeah it should be

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
September 6th 2010



14883 Comments


this was pretty insane live

Terrifyer
September 6th 2010



3403 Comments


fu boris is at the top of my list of bands to see live

TRMshadow
October 6th 2010



4982 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

Another reason why there is an utter lack of respect in the drone world. Who the hell names a song "Blood Swamp"?



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2013 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy