Review of Sunn O))) gig at Sonar

On Wednesday the 23rd of September 2009 I got off of work and met up with a friend of mine to head up to Baltimore to catch Sunn O))) at Sonar. Sunn O)))They didn’t play the main stage, but the much smaller “club stage”, which was fine by me as it was much more up close and personal. Sunn O))) is a strange band, they rarely tour and when I heard they were coming to Baltimore, a city within driving distance, I had to get a ticket. People either love this band and think that what they are doing is really groundbreaking and genius, or they think it’s just boring ambient noise and a total waste of their time. I’m not a huge drone fan but these guys are one of the best at it, and when describing their music I often think of abstract art in music form. It’s hard to define “songs” of theirs, as it all sort of melts together and the songs don’t really have any structure, well not in the normal sense at least.

Sunn O))) At SonarBefore they even took the stage they ran a fog machine on high for about 20 minutes, with a low volume recording of some sort of chants. Then at about 10:30 pm Greg Anderson and Stephen O’Malley came out on stage in their monk/jedi robes and started playing what I think was the beginning to the song Aghartha. Usually I’m pretty good at knowing what songs are being played, but again, this band doesn’t make that easy. Then about 10 minutes later Attila Csihar came up on stage, wearing a similar robe. This is the same Attila of Mayhem fame, and I’d actually seen him play with them at this same venue back in May as part of Maryland Deathfest VII. His performance at this smaller show was pretty outstanding, though sometimes I got the feeling he was being a bit distracting from the music itself, it was a Sunn O))) show after all, not an Attila show. Overall it was a really excellent performance from him though and it really showcased his vocal talent quite well. I always liked him better in Mayhem than Maniac, but this Sunn O))) show really highlighted his vocal range, even if I don’t think he said one actual word the whole night.
The set seemed to be what I’d basically call “songs” from their latest album, Monoliths & Dimensions, but I could be mistaken I suppose. It was an unreal experience though, like no concert I’ve been to before. At times everything seemed to be in slow motion, the music, the band’s movements, almost as if time was stretching as you fell into the event horizon of a black hole. The fog and lighting added a sort of murky element, like trying to look at something through dirty water. It was a really overwhelming experience, and it was LOUD. I mean I just saw Motörhead a few weeks before and that was loud, but these guys really made you feel every slow plodding note vibrate through every bone in your body. Of course I was a lot closer to the stage for this show, right up front. Sunn O))) doesn’t have a drummer but they did have a guy doing some sort of programming in the back, and I know I saw a trombone poking out of the fog at some point. The bass was thick and heavy like the foggy air in the room throughout the performance, and the whole thing almost seemed like it was from outer space at times.

Attila Csihar Of Sunn O)))Attila added to the theatrics at about midway through the set when he put on some gloves that had laser pointers built into the fingers. The lasers really stood out in the fog and surprisingly the whole effect didn’t come off as a raver thing at all, maybe it was the oversized robe. At some point Attila wandered off the stage for a bit to put on his next costume, which I gotta say what a bit over the top. It was another robe, but this time it was covered in fragments of mirrors. Attila Csihar Of Sunn O)))It also had a head piece, something like a head band with big pointy mirror shards coming out of it, somewhat resembling the statue of liberty’s head piece. He kept the laser pointer gloves on with this and did some cool things with the lasers reflecting off the mirrors, especially off the ones on his head. It was certainly a bizarre costume, not sure I’d be caught dead in that, but then Attila has always had a thing for wearing costumes on stage. The two guitarists also had some interesting poses and lurched around on stage very slowly, giving the production a feeling of peeking in on a secret ritual of some Lovecraftian cult.

The music fit this all very well and with the slow build ups and pure raw sound had the audience hypnotized. The slow singular notes building up in intensity into something almost resembling a chord progression really worked well in this setting. There were no breaks between “songs”, it was just one big musical experience. In all the show ended around midnight to an ovation from a crowd that had just had their minds melted for about 90 minutes. As I walked to the car with my friend, we caught a glimpse of the Stratovarius show, which was on the main stage that night at the club, and I remember thinking how I’m so glad I got to see Sunn O))) instead of being into that power metal crap! Damn, they had the bigger audience but those people really had no idea what they just missed only a few feet away. I’ve always been a fan of some of the more strange, bizarre and out there metal bands, of which Sunn O))) definitely fits the category of, so maybe my views on the whole thing are a bit biased, but still I highly recommend checking Sunn O))) out at least once, they definitely put on a show unlike any other band, metal or otherwise.

First Post

All right you mother fuckers, this is my brand spankin new DC heavy metal blog. I have many names, Chewie, RapeJesus, Butt-Rash, Badass McAwesome, Shutup Asshole etc… but the most popular seems to be Metal Chris so that’s what I’m going to go by on here. This blog template still looks retarded as I write this, and hell I might even switch from this WordPress BS, but  I wanted to post today. It’s September 11th and to commemorate the atrocities religion brought us on this day 8 years ago, I’m starting my metal blog. If you want a description of what to expect here, you can find that in the About section, I don’t feel like repeating it in detail here, but basically I’m sick of not having a good website for all the info on heavy metal in the DC area. I’ve found myself scraping this info together for quite some time simply so I can know what the fuck is going on in regards to heavy metal, and I figured I might as well post this info to the net cause maybe there’s some other people out there who would like this info but are too damn lazy to do it themselves. Well you lazy asses, you’re lucky that I’ve got a metal addiction and spare time! I plan on hoarding relevant links on this page as well, so you don’t even have to bother reading my inane drivel if you don’t want. Also, I’ll try to link band names to their MySpace pages so you can listen to their music there if you want, and I’ll link album names to their listings on Metal Archives, if possible, and I’ll link song names to their pages on Songza so you can stream the song to listen to it, if the song is available that is.

Since this is the first post I’ll be a bit all over the place, normally I’ll try to keep different subjects in different posts for clarity’s sake. Currently I’m listening to the new Dying Fetus album, Descend Into Depravity, that comes out officially on Sept 15th. I just got it as a 320k rip from vinyl today off of the net. Now if you’re looking for it, there’s been a lot of fakes of this floating around, particularly one by a ripping crew going by the initials TRI. That is really just Dying Fetus’ 2007 album, War Of Attrition, with the tracks mixed up and the song and file names changed to the track listing on the upcoming album. Anyways, this is my first listen to Descend Into Depravity and it’s not bad. I really didn’t like their previous album War Of Attrition at all but this one seems better. Not as many break downs as I was expecting, but that’s ok. The drums are pretty standard death metal but they’ve kept the intensity in the guitar work. And for those who don’t know, Dying Fetus is from the DC area, probably the biggest death metal band from the area actually. They really were at their peak with their albums Killing On Adrenaline and my personal favorite Destroy The Opposition, after which most of the band left to become Misery Index, tho the drummer, Kevin Talley, has since left Misery Index also and now plays with Dååth. Anyways, if you want to check them out I recommend Destroy The Opposition before their newer stuff. I don’t believe Dying Fetus has any tour dates in the area any time soon, or I’d mention that here.

OK, so now that I’ve at least talked a bit of metal here, I’ll mention that I totally need to redesign this site’s appearance. I need some Photoshop skills to do that, which I simply don’t have. So until I can get someone to actually put the ideas I have into digital form, and do it for free, it’s not going to be ideal in appearance. Also, I’m still figuring out this WordPress stuff so we’ll see. I may just switch to another website before moving tons of posts to another site becomes a pain in the ass. Also, I need to figure out how to get some nice looking calendar widgets on here so I can have a calendar for upcoming metal shows in the area as well as upcoming album releases of note. I’ve seen a cool one on Bands In Town, but they don’t list every venue (and thus not every concert can be added). Since I don’t have those things set up currently, I’ll just list a bunch of them now. Here’s the upcoming albums of note (I’m probably missing some so deal):

MegadethEndgame (Sept 15)
Dying Fetus
Descend Into Depravity (Sept 15)
Black Sabbath
reissues w/ Bonus Tracks (Sept 21st)
Echoes Of Eternity
As Shadows Burn (Sept 22)
Wormwood (Sept 24)
All Shall Fall (Sept 25)
Þyrmir EP (Sept 25)
Teraphim (Sept 28)
Arch Enemy
The Root Of All Evil (re-recording pre-Angela material) (Sept 28)
Alice In Chains
Black Gives Way to Blue (Sept 29)
BelphegorWalpurgis Rites – Hexenwahn
Cannabis Corpse
The Weeding EP (Oct 12)
PortalSwarth (Oct 20)
GorgorothQuantos Possunt ad Satanitatem Trahunt (Oct 21)
HypocrisyA Taste Of Extreme Divinity (Oct 23)
Dark Tranquillity – Where Death Is Most Alive (DVD) (Oct 26)
PelicanWhat We All Come To Need (Oct 27)
VreidMilorg (Oct 27)
Slayer – World Painted Blood (Nov 2)
KatatoniaNight Is The New Day (Nov 2)
ImpiousDeath Domination (Nov 6)

Note that I list whichever date is earliest for the release date, US, Europe, Japan, whatever. Since the internet makes it pointless for bands to release albums on different dates in different countries, I just go with whichever is first. Most of the important ones leak online before the release dates anyways. Well, here’s some of the upcoming metal shows to the DC area (I’ll list other areas when I get a calendar working):

Samael @ Jaxx on Fri 16 Oct – They aren’t headlining, Moonspell is, but the latest Samael album, Above, was surprisingly awesome!

AC/DC @ the Verizon Center on Fri 16 Oct – Tix are already on sale, so if ya feel like spending over $100 for bad seats, go for it!

God Dethroned @ Jaxx on Sun 18 Oct – The openers suck, but I’ve never seen em live so I’m curious about their live show.

Dethklok @ the Patriot Center on Sat 31 Oct – I think it’s GA only for this show, floor “seats” only for this Halloween show.

Ensiferum, Hypocrisy and Ex Deo @ Jaxx on Fri 6 Nov – I wish Hypocrisy was headlining but oh well, and Ex Deo is basically Kataklysm trying to be the Nile of ancient Rome, but not as technical.

Eluveitie, Belphegor and Vreid @ Jaxx on Thurs 12 Nov – Vreid is basically Windir minus the guy who wrote all the songs (he died), but still I really wanna see them cause they’re pretty good.

Pelican @ the Rock & Roll Hotel on Fri 4 Dec – They’re an instrumental band somewhere between The Fucking Champs and Dysrhythmia.

Gwar @ 9:30 Club Thurs 10 Dec – Good ol Richmond natives Gwar, playing the 9:30 Club in December again.

Well, that’s it for my first post. Hopefully this blog will become more kick ass over time. No idea how frequently I’ll post, it will probably depend on how often metal news in the DC area comes out. Feel free to follow me on Twitter at and I’ll post links to new entries as soon as I post them here. Keep it brutal DC!