Boomkat Product Review:
These two acts need little introduction - Sunn O))) have become something of household names in the last few years, taking drone to a totally new audience and showing people that it is possible to listen to slower music without getting bored. After masses of touring, playing a single note/chord for up to an hour at a time, it's without a doubt changed people's perception of what drone music is and also what 'metal' is. Boris are Japan's answer to Sunn O)))'s American doom explosion; taking cues from the Melvins and of course Earth, the band have successfully managed to flit seamlessly between heavy doom-laden drone ('DroneEvil') and a more traditional classic rock sound ('Pink') garnering them serious praise in the process. Releasing on the Sunn O)))-curated Southern Lord label it was only a matter of time before the two acts would collide, but a session this well realised and this progressive couldn't have been anticipated. Beginning with 'Etna' we're off to a fairly traditional start, as masses of distorted drones harmonise with eachother - then come the drums. It's safe to say that Sunn O))) have never embraced percussion, but hearing this you wonder quite why, the drumming doesn't sound out of place or intrusive, instead it becomes another layer in the epic composition, adding a sense of improvisation and unpredictability to the canon. However, the real surprise comes when we hit the third track, 'The Sinking Belle (Blue Sheep)' - a majestic collaboration with singer Jesse Sykes who adds her haunted tones to half-speed piece of atmospheric post rock. The result is closer to Low or possibly even early Mogwai than Sunn O))) or Boris's usual feedback laden drone hymns -but when you think about it the progression makes perfect sense. Just as Earth re-thought their ideas and came up with 'Hex' - an album which revelled in it's country roots, an album which took the core Earth sound and totally re-imagined it, keeping it's pace and emotion but allowing the sound itself to transcend simple stereotyping, these two bands here manage equally successfully to step out of the boots they have been lumbered with and write an album that simply 'is', and which represents perfectly just how talented both acts are. Elsewhere the Sunn O))) fellers rope in more favours in the shape of ex-Earth feller Joe Preston, better known possibly as Thrones, and shockingly Kim Thayil from grunge superstars Soundgarden and utilise their respective talents perfectly blending Preston's voice into 'Akuma no Kuma' and Thayil's guitar into 'Blood Swamp', the album's truly epic 15 minute closer. A breathtaking listening experience from start to finish, 'Altar' is truly one of the most stunning albums you're likely to hear this year and a record which should serve to redefine a genre. Buy.