Boomkat Product Review:
Sunn O)))'s Greg Anderson comes correct with his solo debut (!), melting Earth-style doom riffage into the cosmic horror fantasticism of Goblin, John Carpenter and Fabio Frizzi. We're surprised someone hasn't done a record like this sooner.
Since Sunn O))) emerged in the late 1990s, it's been Stephen O'Malley who's been busiest on solo activities. While Anderson's put in work running the Southern Lord imprint and as a member of Goatsnake, he's kept a lower profile than his bandmate - it's taken until now for him to finally reveal his first solo project. And for Sunn O))) devotees, "Forest Nocturne" shouldn't come as a complete surprise. If O'Malley's solo material has emphasized his interests in ancient folk music, avant-improv and contemporary composition, Anderson's debut embodies the other side of the Sunn O))) coin, focusing on sinister synth motifs, Bernard Hermann-riffs, black metal theatrics and heavyweight doom.
'Forest Nocturne' is described by Anderson as "music of the night", and takes its cues from vintage horror scores. You know the sorta gear we're on about here: John Carpenter's "Halloween", Goblin's prog-synth classic "Suspiria", Ennio Morricone's "The Thing". But the album is way more than a straight-to-VHS sequel, Anderson doesn't just attempt to recreate the late 1970s/early 1980s, he injects this serum directly into his own patented blend of chilly Nordic black metal and crocked Pacific Northwestern doom. The Lord gets into character quickly with the optimally-titled "THEME", opening up the album with hair-raising metal riffing that echoes the bombast of Claudio Simonetti's synth-metal score for Lamberto Bava's 1985 gorefest "Dèmoni".
The album takes a swift about turn with 'Church of Herrmann', reinterpreting "Psycho" composer Bernard Herrmann's recognizable sound using pipe organ and (eventually) guitar. It's a potent mix, juxtaposing the inherent cinematic spookiness of the church organ with Sunn O)))'s unmistakable sheet-metal drones. And while the duo have tested the limits of the genre in recent years, experimenting with new age synth styles and widescreen composition on albums like 2019's "Pyroclasts" and "Life Metal", this feels like a completely untapped seam. 'Lefthand Lullaby' is even more direct, a sickly Carpenter-esque arpeggio that growls from FM bells and hotwired oscillator fluctuations into blustering, serrated doom in the second segment.
Anderson even leaves room for spine-tingling negative space minimalism, excavating subsurface oscillations on 'Deciduous'. But like with all good horror movies, he saves his most crushing cut for the finale, roping in ex-Mayhem vocalist and Sunn O))) collaborator Attila Csihar to add guttural growls to 'Triumph of the Oak'.