Words About Music
Sunn O))) & Ulver “Terrestrials”
American drone doom metal/ambient black metal group Sunn O))) and Norwegian experimentalists Ulver have both done basically everything that no one thought possible with the heavy metal genre. Sunn O))) made nearly rhythmless and often repetitive songs that still find ways to remain moving and beautiful, while Ulver have toyed with everything from folk metal to modern classical in order to depict themselves as one of the genre’s most progressive bands. So I suppose it was only a matter of time before both acts convened to create a collaboration effort, which happens to be titled “Terrestrials.” On this album styles from both bands are evident, though it’s not as compelling as anything either band has ever released.
I’m not gonna lie: I’m a much bigger Sunn O))) fan than I am an Ulver fan. While I do respect Ulver’s experimentation in electronic, classical, and avant-garde stylings, nothing they do or have ever done really appeals to me. So naturally I was a bit worried when word of this project first became published. I’d prefer a new Sunn O))) album as they haven’t released one in nearly five years, but I suppose this will have to do for now.
“Terrestrials” is composed of three songs, all of which feature ambient drones and some stray strings and horns elsewhere in the mix while the final track actually features vocals from Ulver’s end of the collaboration. For the most part, I don’t have many complaints about the music itself. “Let There Be Light,” the opening track, is a perfectly suspenseful and fairly light song that starts off sounding like a toned down latter day Sunn O))) track while it later develops into a more fully realized song in its 9th minute. The second song, “Western Horn,” is a bit more Ulver than it is Sunn O)))-y, but that doesn’t appear to be a problem as it still incorporates both styles in a fairly appealing way. And, as I mentioned before, the final song “Eternal Return” is the only one that features any sort of vocal part.
If I have any complaint at all about this record, it’s that it is mostly underwhelming. I wasn’t wowed by it like I was wowed by “Monoliths and Dimensions” when I first heard it. The music itself is just fine and both bands mess around with atmosphere in ways that really serve to prove each band’s abilities. But there isn’t really enough here to convince me that this collaboration is worthwhile when both bands seem to do just fine on their own. I might think differently if this were an album from an unknown artist, but both bands have been establishing themselves in the experimental metal scene for over 15 years. While I did hope for more, I wouldn’t say that this album was bad or unlistenable. I’d just say that it’s kind of forgettable.
SCORE – 6.0
FAVORITE TRACKS – Well, there’s only three and I like them all just fine I guess
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