Sunn O)))/Eagle Twin

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Sunday, September 27, 2009

Over the past year or so Sunn O))) has become something of an obsession for me. Although they are certainly not a group that everyone will enjoy, I have found them to be one of the most interesting and experimental drone acts and their newest release Monoliths and Dimensions was an incredible listening experience. So when I discovered that they were performing at Sonar in Baltimore last Wednesday I knew I had to check it out. I armed myself with some earplugs (which were recommended by everyone I talked to who had seen Sunn O))) before) and headed out, and the night’s performance would end up being one I will never forget.

Opening up for Sunn O))) was Eagle Twin, a duo that features guitarist Gentry Densley and drummer Tyler Smith. This summer they released their debut full length The Unkindness of Crows which was a mixture of doom, sludge and even a little blues rock. Once the duo took the stage, they launched into material off of this album and barely paused to take a break for the 45 minutes that their set lasted. Although I have listened to Eagle Twin’s debut quite a few times it was hard to make out specific songs throughout the course of their set, and I often got the feeling that there was some improvisational jamming going on throughout. There were some minor issues throughout the set which mainly had to do with some instrument failures. While these would have stopped some bands dead in their tracks, Eagle Twin forged onward and at one point Gentry Densley continued with some guitar work while Tyler Smith sprinted off stage to grab a replacement snare drum. Densley also demonstrated that his vocal talents were genuine and not altered by any recording tricks as in person they were spot on. Overall, Eagle Twin had a ton of energy and despite some minor technical issues they played a blistering set that left many of the people in the crowd satisfied.

As I mentioned earlier, I brought ear plugs for Sunn O)))’s set at the suggestion of some people who had seem them in the past, and the wall of amps that they had on stage made me glad that I had done so. Shortly before the set began a fog machine was turned on, and by the time the night had come to an end the entire room would be so foggy that it was hard to see the bar even though I was only a foot or two away from it. Although it made the room extremely hot, the fog would end up adding a hell of a lot of atmosphere and make Sunn O))) look even more menacing and creepy. When Greg Anderson and Stephen O’Malley came on stage wearing their trademark robes, they immediately launched into their trademark bass heavy drone. If you’ve heard any of the group’s albums you should have a general idea of what this sounds like in your head, but live it is about ten times louder. You see, Sunn O))) plays so loud that it physically moves your body. The vibrations move through your body from head to toe, and it feels as though you are not just watching this performance but truly experiencing it and becoming one with the sound. Shortly after the pure drone began, Attila Csihar came on stage dressed in a robe that obscured his face and began chanting, singing, and screaming. During much of this time he also used laser pointers that were attached to the gloves he was wearing and made different gestures and shined them into the crowd. The overall appearance of this was somewhat ritualistic and ominous, and considering that he was bellowing out shrieks and creepy chants at the same time that was not overly surprising. Later on Attila would come out in a costume that was covered in mirrors and he had a head dress on that made him look like a possessed Statue of Liberty or some sort of Sun God. The overall performance put as much of an emphasis on visuals as it did on the actual drone, and after the group finished their hour and a half long performance my jaw had dropped from what I had just witnessed.

This type of music definitely isn’t for everyone, but if you appreciate Sunn O))) on album then do not hesitate to check them out live as it will be an intense experience that you will likely never forget. But just remember to wear ear plugs if you do though, as I have a feeling that your hearing will not be the same if you do not bring any. Eagle Twin is also worth checking out if you’re into doom/sludge as they have a lot of energy and are able to keep playing no matter what happens. Overall, this is one of the better shows I have been to in recent memory and should either group come around again I will not hesitate to go hear them again.

Leave a Reply