Sunn O))) & Boris Altar

Everything about this collaborative album rings of magnitude: the musicians involved, the unholy album cover, and the pièce de résistance — a Halloween release date. A union that any doom metal fan has been praying for, the teamwork on this record is nothing short of extraordinary, but likely not for the reasons you’d imagine. As sinister as you’d assume Altar to be, it’s bound to throw some a curveball or two. Characteristics of both Sunn O)))’s American droning black metal and Boris’s Japanese stoner sludge grace the six compositions, showcasing the meeting of the minds you’d expect to be overwhelmed by. "Etna” shows both sides can have their cake and eat it too, as an ominous cloud of feedback ruptures into a barrage of swelling bass and thunderous drums. "Akuma No Kuma” meanwhile lurks like the Reaper in a waiting room, as doom/sludge icon Joe Preston uses a disturbing vocoder to make death announcements amidst noise that knows no severity. The epic "Bloodswamp,” meanwhile, finds ex-Soundgarden axe-man Kim Thayil piercing through a distorted swamp with his high-pitch sonic wails. However, it’s the more unconventional experiments that make Altar more than simply a clash of titans. "Fried Eagle Mind” floats in limbo like a static-plagued soundscape by Labradford; and even more startling is the humbling beauty of "The Sinking Belle (Blue Sheep),” a reverb-laden dirge featuring the devastating vocals of alt-country siren Jesse Sykes. It’s an opus that reveals just how much magic this partnership has up its sleeve, and also one of the most beautiful tunes I’ve ever heard. Let’s hope this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship. (Additionally, the first 5000 consumers will find a bonus 28-minute monster "Her Lips Were Wet With Venom” featuring doom godfather Dylan Carlson.) (Southern Lord)