Sound — 8
On their seventh release, Monoliths & Dimensions, Sunn O))) continuously expands their sonic palette. Although it features the usual ultra-downtuned guitars, Sunn has introduced several new elements into their sound, such as an orchestra conducted by Eyvand Kang. The song "Alice" is a perfect example of guitars meeting orchestra rivaling something like Metallica's S&M live album as the orchestra provides fills inbetween the guitar interplay. However, the song closes without the guitar and just horns playing as the album showcases trombonists Julian Priester and Stuart Dempster and French horn player Josiah Boothby. In addition, there are many other uncommon instruments that complete Sunn's drone sound such as a conch shell. That right there is innovative. Another guest featured on the album is Earth's Dylan Carlson whose low-tuned guitar adds to the mixture. The album comes across as a dark mixture of vile sounds, and that means that Sunn achieved their goal: to create something that touches a listen unlike anything else they have ever heard.
Lyrics — 8
Sunn has been famous for a long circle of rotating guests that appear on their releases. Since most of their music is instrumental, there is not always much singing especially on earlier albums like 00 Void. However, Monoliths & Dimensions features legendary Mayhem vocalist Attilla Csihar whose mysterious vocals greatly add to the dark dense feel of the album. Between grunts and growls that are listed merely as "voices" in the album's liner notes, his contribution adds to the dark vibe produced by Sunn. In addition to Csihar, Sunn surprises its listeners utilizing choirs. A male choir and a female choir are both present on the album, each adding an extremely eerie feeling to the music, especially on the song "Big Church" which comes across as an immense wall of sound guaranteed to move the listener. Overall, on Monoliths & Dimensions, Sunn has brought in more singing than ever but obvoisuly not a traditional singer, something sinister which is suiting to the dark ambient genre.
Overall Impression — 8
Sunn O))) keeps widening their range of ambience each album. Guests like Earth's Dylan Carlson, Mayhem's Attilla Csihar and violinist Eyvand Kang make this one of their best efforts yet. The very small world of ambient music that Sunn exists in cannot offer much to compete with them. The orchestration on "Alice" is both haunting and beautiful at the same time and the crushing guitar of "Aghartha" is enough to make riff masters like Black Sabbath or Meshuggah shiver. This album is a crushing brick of many sounds produced by guitars, drums, choirs and even an orchestra. Simply put: amazing.