Live Review/ Sunn O))) @ SWX

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By Gail El-Halaby, Third Year Psychology

Sunn O))) are an American five-piece experimental metal band from Seattle, Washington founded over twenty years ago. A band like no other, they’ve been an ever-unique presence in the metal community, with their other-worldly fusion of drone, black metal, dark rock and downright deafening corruption of the ears.    

SWX, a notoriously sub-par (sorry, not sorry) club night venue, popular with freshers and students looking for an easy night out, was a transformed space for the night. The wait for Sunn O))) was accompanied by a pagan-esque ambient backing track of a woman’s voice chanting slowly on repeat for over twenty minutes and incense- laced smoke slowly blanketing the entire crowd, with a backdrop fog of blue and pink lighting on-stage.  Finally, the lights went down and five-robed figures walked onto the smoky stage.  

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O)))ur UK tour with Anna Von Hausswolff begins tomorrow in Bristol!!! ⁣ ⁣WE CANT FUCKING WAIT!!!⁣ ⁣(tix for shows are selling fast, close to sold out and in the case of the home of Sabbath is sold out!!, don’t miss out on seeing us….we want you!~)⁣ ⁣⁣ ⁣We will have these killer tour posters by the great artist: Simon Fowler at the shows!!!!⁣ ⁣⁣ ⁣OCT24⁣ ⁣SWX Bristol⁣ ⁣Bristol, United Kingdom⁣ ⁣SUNN O))) + Anna Von Hausswolff⁣ ⁣⁣ ⁣OCT25⁣ ⁣QMU Venue⁣ ⁣Glasgow, United Kingdom⁣ ⁣SUNN O))) + Anna Von Hausswolff⁣ ⁣⁣ ⁣OCT26⁣ ⁣The Crossing Digbeth⁣ ⁣Birmingham, United Kingdom⁣ ⁣Supersonic Presents: SUNN O))) + Anna Von Hausswolff⁣ ⁣⁣ ⁣OCT27⁣ ⁣Albert Hall⁣ ⁣Manchester, United Kingdom⁣ ⁣SUNN O))) + Anna Von Hausswolff⁣ ⁣⁣ ⁣OCT28⁣ ⁣Roundhouse⁣ ⁣London, United Kingdom⁣ ⁣SUNN O))) + Anna Von Hausswolff⁣ ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ ⁣#sunno⁣ ⁣@annavonhausswolff ⁣ ⁣@oldempire ⁣ ⁣@southernlordrecordingseurope

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I hesitate to call this experience a gig, as it felt more like an artistic performance than anything else. It would be impossible to define a set-list, instead there was only drone in different keys. This was a metal-experience unlike any other, with the crowd completely still, some members eyes closed, it felt almost like a collective offense to so much as move during the set, apart from the odd individual raising their devil-horns in pure admiration for the assault of the sense we were experiencing. This, combined with the constant smoke and dark faceless silhouettes, felt-ever more like a ritual as it continued.  

Throughout, the slow, gloomy heaviness could be felt meandering through the nerves of my entire body, putting me into an almost trance like state for most of the show, truly captivated by what I was watching. Sunn O))) are probably more known for their sheer quantity of sound, rather than quality of sound, with posters loitering the venue stating that it was strongly recommended ear protection was used for this gig, it didn’t take long to understand why.  

Image Credit: Gail El-Halaby

This definitely is not for everyone, it’s niche, and almost a test of musical endurance. I won’t lie, as the set ended, I began feeling like my brain was seriously melting in my skull and started feeling like I was nearing the end of my journey with what I was hearing yet is impossible not to appreciate the pure genius behind it.

For the next week, anything I listen to will feel like light-pop in comparison to the genius-brutality Sunn O))) delivered. It was a truly unforgettable experience, and one which every fan of metal and the such should endure.

Featured Image: Instagram/Christophe Moracin

AUTHOR

Gail El-Halaby

Colourful haired gal passionate about mental health, rock music and veganism.