Sunn O))) / Oren Ambarchi The Music Gallery, Toronto ON - May 22, 2006

The capacity crowd that filled the preserved church of the Music Galley this Victoria Day was taught some serious lessons in darkness and discipline during the Toronto debut of droning black metal minimalists SunnO))). The entire experience unwound with funereal tension. Once rightfully regarded solo artist and SunnO))) touring member Oren Ambarchi wound down his bombastic and highly memorable opening set of perplexing, prepared guitar drones, SunnO))) let their dry ice and army of smoke machines run wild to create a fog so thick you could only make out the silhouettes of those surrounding you. North European (Scandinavian? Norwegian?) marching music served as SunnO)))’s opening rite. Then the houselights dimmed and a blood-red glow poured from the stage to fill the inescapable fog. Founders/guitarists Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson took to the stage with Ambarchi and ex-Melvins bassist Mark Deutrom in tow, with all but Ambarchi adorned in the band’s signature hooded cloaks. Sunn O))) then slowly built a sparse, percussive opening movement of silence and fleeting drone-sounds that effectively sucked the remaining air from the room. The band’s infamous stage-long row of towering stacked amps was virtually invisible within all the smoke, but when the initial crushing guitar chord was struck, there wasn’t a person there who didn’t feel those speakers shaking along with their rib cage. In that first chord’s wake came an hour’s more waves of feedback, shifting and progressing ever so slightly the whole time to create a physical and mental experience that was intermittently daunting, boring, compelling, disorienting and transcendentally stimulating. Sunn O))) set out to create a spiritually black experience and that is exactly what they accomplished, by driving their audience into sensual submission with overbearing waves of drone. SunnO))) is something unique to behold, like an exorcism, or a sacrifice.