Release Date: Oct 25, 2019
Record label: Southern Lord Records
Genre(s): Avant-Garde, Alternative/Indie Rock, Experimental Rock, Instrumental Rock, Structured Improvisation
Stephen O'Malley once described Sunn O))) as his "guitar band," which is a striking understatement. Over the band's nearly two-decade run, they've never deviated from a singular mission: crushingly glacial guitars played at devastating volumes. Since 2009's Monoliths & Dimensions, the duo has gracefully slipped the shackles of heavy metal, remaining rooted in its ferocious aesthetic while pursuing high concept collaborations and drone at its most incantatory.
Let's cut to the chase here: Pyroclasts is not for those who see Sunn O))) as some sort of weird art experiment or novelty act centred on volume. I know that these people exist; some of them have unfortunately spoken to me. Seen as an aural appendage to Life Metal, the album actually has more in common with Sunn O)))'s earlier drone assault of The Grimmrobe Demos than their more recent 'sophisticated' output.
Five months after the issue of Sunn O)))'s Life Metal, Greg Anderson and Stephen O' Malley deliver Pyroclasts, a companion album (not a follow-up). This set was recorded during the same two-week sessions that produced its predecessor, though the process was a bit different. At the beginning and end of each day's recording at Steve Albini's Electrical Audio in Chicago, Sunn O))) and its collaborators -- cellist/halldorophonist Hildur Guðnadóttir, electric baritone guitarist Tim Midyett (Silkworm), and synthesist Tos Nieuwenhuizen (Beaver, God), engaged in stopwatch-timed 12-minute modal drone improvisations; they were akin to musical meditation practices that Albini recorded on two-inch tape.
The Lowdown: It was just a little over six months ago that Sunn O))) released the album Life Metal. Maintaining the band's tremendous use of distortion, Life Metal incorporated a mix of density and brightness, offering an appealing spin on Sun O)))'s iconic droning. At the time Sunn O))) announced Life Metal, the band also revealed that a second LP would arrive later in 2019.