Words and Photos by Andrew Parks
And there you have it. It took Sunn O))) 15 minutes, tops, to lose their stranglehold on a crowd of curious masochists, here at Brooklyn’s Masonic Temple to soak up pea-soupy patches of fog and feedback that feels like a fireball to the face. Or at the very least, a bass-heavy full body massage.
Of course, you’ve gotta be willing to wade through waves of slowwww, shape-shifting distortion for a good 90 minutes if you want the true Sunn O))) experience. And, well, we thought about leaving several times during the quartet’s (rounded out by multi-instrumentalist Steve Moore and Mayhem frontman Attila Csihar) late-night set. Not because we were surprised and/or bored by what we were witnessing.
If anything, we were simply distracted by all the goddamn smoke. We get why the duo uses it—to establish a meditative atmosphere and make those robes seem a tad less silly—but they were pumping out enough plumes of the stuff to choke a steel-lunged fireman. The group’s 2006 bill with Boris and Oren Ambarchi, on the other hand, balanced the B-movie theatrics with the music itself, an unending hymn of praise to The Riff.
Thank Hades for the unparalleled operatic vocals of the almighty Attila, then. While we haven’t the faintest idea what he was shrieking/shouting/sing-speaking about throughout Sunn’s set, there’s really nothing like watching a scarily-intense Hungarian in his very own Hellraiser costume, complete with laser claws and a crown of thorns. Then there was his tree get-up, a Guillermo del Toro-like creation that could easily play a starring role in our next never-ending nightmare.
Here’s the thing, though: Attila doesn’t need to pretend every night is Halloween to hold our attention. His voice is undeniably haunting, and creepy in parts that should come off as pure camp. And that stage presence—wow. Get this guy a role in Broadway’s first black-metal-scored play, please. Thanks.