Gig Review: Sunn O))) + Thorax

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Sunn O))) + Thorax
Manning Bar, Sydney
15 March 2016
Review by Greg Smith
Photos by Rod Hunt

It was great to see the Manning Bar near capacity on a rainy Tuesday night, and I was primed to see two unique bands do what they do best, play live. The band given the unenviable task of warming up a room full of drone metal devotees was Sydney five piece Thorax.

Their music is unique, making them difficult to classify into any one genre. It is both raw and heavy, with stop-start riffs, pounding rhythms, and prog-like tempo changes, while vocalist Kallie’s guttural vocals give it a doom-like edge. Their set consisted of songs from their 2015 self-titled LP, including Nachthexen, All Else Is Shadow, Banshee and Vampyrotuethis Infernals. If you want to see a band that is pushing the boundaries, you should definitely check Thorax out.

Next, the ground-breaking, Earth-shifting, genre-defying noise that is Sunn O))). Despite existing in various forms for seventeen years, at least nine releases, and critical acclaim, the only way to truly appreciate a band like Sunn O))) is to experience it live. More ritual than rock show, it begins with every square millimetre of the room filling with smoke. Then, four hooded figures emerge, standing in front of a wall of amplifiers, and then, the noise begins.

Sunn O))) don’t make songs in the traditional sense, they make a wall of sound, a monotonous drone of bass, guitar, keyboards and samples, melodic chanting, and murderous shrieking, each note louder than the last, each sound reverberating through the walls, the floor, and every cell in your body. It is a relentless, bone-jarring, ear-drum crushing experience. Sunn O))) are, without doubt, the loudest band I’ve ever seen.

The smoke and lighting were enthralling, but the highlight was the bizarre experience of standing in a live music venue where everyone was just standing still…. listening. It was both serene, and eerie. Time seemed to both stand still and speed up, for despite the set going for just on 2 hours, it was over before you knew it, and just like that, the wall of sound stopped, leaving a room full of people to check that their vital organs were still intact…and functioning.

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