SunnO))), Boris, Red Sparowes, Isis, and Tia Carrera
Reviewed by Austin Powell, Fri., Nov. 10, 2006
The "Children of the Grave" congregate around the sacrilegious sludge of Black Sabbath's Tony Iommi, Master of Reality. Dragged slowly "Into the Void" by the gravitational pull of Earth's ominous undertones, past Sleep, new terrain in the metal underworld is unearthed. At this Altar, minimalist Black Ones Sunn O))) and Japanese doom-metal trio Boris, cloaked and hooded, forge a truly unholy alliance in the name of Southern Lord. "Etna," with its low-end distortion drone and percussion, is a snarling Cerberus at the gates of hell, while the murky and bleak "Blood Swamp" bubbles and burns slowly for what feels like eternity. The flight of Red Sparowes' Every Red Heart Shines Toward the Red Sun (Neurot) begins At the Soundless Dawn and ascends until the point of incineration, an explosion in the sky like nothing that's come before it. Guitarist Clifford Meyer pulls double duty with Isis, whose post-metal artistic vision is even clearer In the Absence of Truth (Ipecac). The Chicago quintet's fourth album fully manipulates the mind's eye, slowly building from an atmospheric trance with greater emphasis on Aaron Turner's surreal vocals to cataclysmic clairvoyance. This is made apparent through the 20/20 hindsight offered in Clearing the Eye, the band's first live DVD, though the footage feels more like watching the band practice after passing a few joints than the transcendent experience of Isis live. No strangers to the "Sweet Leaf," local metal trio Tia Carrera's latest self-titled set of improvised jams (Australian Cattle God) is a comprehensive study in "Tone, Levels, and THC." Hit once and let it burn.