sunn

Looking for doom in all the wrong places? This meticulous recreation of the preamp from a rare ’80s amp is explosively effective.

Destructive amounts of volume, gain, and low end. Wall-of-amps doom in a box.

Somewhat confusing control labels and layout. EQ boosts can be subtle. You’ll probably want a noise gate.

$250

Frost Giant Architect of Reality
fuzzworship.com

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If doom metal and its variants are big blips on your radar, you’ve probably noticed there’s a dearth of all-in-one stompboxes capable of unleashing genre-worthy filth and mayhem. A Big Muff (or any number of other fuzzes) and a distortion or two will take you a long way, but for dedicated doomers the aural onslaught usually isn’t just about cascading gain—it’s watts and decibels wreaking havoc on speaker cones. Which is why powerful heads (often 120- or 200-watt bass or PA models) from the likes of Sunn, Ampeg, Peavey, Orange, Hiwatt, Sound City, and Marshall largely rule the realm.

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Photo by Jon Kristiansen

No bass. No drums. No songs. How did this experimental metal-drone band get so darn popular?

Sunn O))) may shatter your notions about what makes a great musical experience. Their live show can consist of 40 minutes of abrasive, detuned drones devoid of identifiable harmonies and rhythms—it can sound like Leatherface’s chainsaw wreaking havoc with a broken stop button. The tension builds and builds, broken only when a scary-ass guy in a robe emerges from the stage fog and starts chanting.

Skeptical? Well, Sunn O))) has amassed a vast cult following over the course of their two-decade career. Guitarists Greg Anderson and Stephen O’Malley met in Seattle around 1990, just as the grunge movement was burgeoning. Bonded by a mutual love of groups like the Melvins and Earth (a seminal drone band), the pair formed Thor’s Hammer, a doom metal act, in 1994. By 1998 Anderson had formed Southern Lord Records, and Sunn O))) was born.

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