Sunn O))) - Pyroclasts (Southern Lord)
Constructed as a by-product of the recording of Life Metal, it’s easy to think of Pyroclasts as a disposable also-ran but instead it functions as a more intuitive, contrasting piece that sheds a lot of SOMA and Gregg Anderson’s loftier aspirations and returns to their roots – pure tonal worship.
Each of its four pieces began as a modal drone, an exercise in sonic group therapy that acted both as warm-up and, in a sense, a part of the foundations on which Life Metal was erected. As such, it’s best not to go into this release as a compositional work and instead let it function as an immersive scrapbook, a peek into a 2-week period of a group whose whole function is immersion. These songs build and swell but never strive to go anywhere, happy just in their very existence and though there are some stand-out moments, like the shrill feedback and almost-melodicism of “Ampliphædies (E)”, Steve Albini’s real success here has been in capturing the sheer power and almost physical weight that Sunn O))) have always been counted on to deliver live.
It’s enough to make you wish for more, strange as that might seem, but even if we never get some super-lavish box-set of all of these group exercises, a combination of this and catching them live whenever and wherever they set up their amps should suffice.