Review Summary: Sunn O)))'s fourth live album finds the group invoking doom in a Norwegian cathedral.
Hand claps are followed by silence. Slowly, organ tones fill the cathedral and remain there for quite some time. This is Sunn O))) at their most pious, standing before the great altar of drone. Dømkirke
, recorded during the Borealis festival in Bergen, Norway, marks a subtle departure in the group's sound, if only for that place in time. The setting gives even more celestial weight to the organ playing on "Why Dost Thou Hide Thyself In Clouds?" and provides an almost ancient timbre to Attila Csihar's operatic moans and chants. Distorted sub-bass frequencies are nowhere to be found in this first piece, setting it apart from Sunn's typically heavy-handed delivery.
The middle section of Dømkirke
pushes the listener back into darkness, but even Sunn's style of drone doom feels graceful in comparison to previous works. One can imagine those primal waves of feedback and drawn out chords floating throughout the cathedral, entrancing even the most skeptical listeners. Trumpet finds its way into the first half of "Cannon," like a twisted version of In a Silent Way
. Attila's gentle rasps sounds more akin to white noise than anything grim, and the organ again instills the feeling of melodrama.
"Masks of the Ætmospheres," which begins with disfigured bass sounds, gradual transforms into a brick wall of high gain amplifiers, foreboding cathedral pipe organ, and appropriately chilling vocal work. We are then left with only Attila and Steve Moore, ending as it had began nearly an hour earlier. The crowd's enthusiasm is understandable; the performance documented here is a landmark release for Sunn O))) and easily one of their best and most creative. Although it probably won't convert many of the group's detractors, Dømkirke
still stands up far beyond many of the drone releases today.