Review Summary: One of the most challenging works in Sunn O)))’s discography, but certainly a worthwhile listen for fans, and one that should not be overlooked.White2
is the fourth album by drone metal band Sunn O))), released by Southern Lord Records in 2004. Much like its 2003 predecessor (appropriately titled White1
finds itself both temporally and musically situated between the straight-up Earth
-worshipping drone of their early records and the more experimental, atmospheric work of their later records. The album contains elements of drone doom, dark ambient, noise music, and avant-garde music, and its three tracks are notably distinct from one another, showing three very different sides of the band’s sound. This results in an admittedly uneven listening experience; however, each track has something unique and interesting to offer, and it is from this quality that the album draws its strength.
The first track, “HELL-O)))-WEEN”, is a relatively conventional Sunn O))) composition, if such a thing exists. It most closely resembles the straightforward drone metal of Flight of the Behemoth
, with a slow, repetitive, insistent guitar riff gradually flat-lining into a single note for several minutes before the song ends. It is as hypnotic and heavy as music in this genre ever is. Fans of Earth 2
, The Grimmrobe Demos
, or either of Sunn O)))’s first two full-lengths will undoubtedly enjoy this track, and it makes up what is probably the most accessible section of the album.
The second track, “bassAliens”, is hardly a metal track at all. It features creepy keyboards, found sounds, dissonant guitar improvisations, and a terrifying, loud bass sound that becomes more and more intense and dissonant as the piece continues. It at times resembles the harsh breakcore of electronic artists Aphex Twin
and Venetian Snares
, though the focus is primarily on ambience and contrast. It may prove challenging for even some Sunn O))) fans, but its atmospheric effect, once embraced, is stunning.
Closing track “Decay2 [Nihils’ Maw]” is by far the most abstract and challenging piece on the album. It features droning guitars and synthesizers; various found sounds, including banshee-like shrieks; and low, guttural growls and chanting by Mayhem’s Attila Csihar (the vocalist primarily used by Sunn O))) in live concerts). This track is the closest the album comes to a pure dark ambient piece; it is easily the creepiest track on here, and also the least typical in terms of the band’s traditional style.
is not necessarily the best or most cohesive work in Sunn O)))’s discography. Albums such as Flight of the Behemoth
, Black One
and Monoliths and Dimensions
are all far better collections of work when listened to as whole experiences. This is due to the fact that the White2
’s three tracks are so drastically different from one another, despite the undeniable quality of each one individually. Because of this unevenness, White2
is not necessarily the best starting point for newcomers; however, for fans of drone metal, dark ambient or Sunn O)))’s other works, this album is definitely a rewarding experience that is not to be missed.