Reviews of music from the doom/stoner/psych genre(s) tend to be littered with hyperbole. Writers seem to enjoy closing their eyes and pretending that what they’re listening to is not drums and guitars, but a train made out of carcasses, trudging full steam through a bottomless swamp of molten tar and rusty nails, up from which writhe the screaming souls of the damned. Or something like that.
Of course, there are good reasons for the tendency. It’s a kind of music largely founded on huge sonic impact, mountainous tonal density, and often, repetition. If properly executed, these things culminate into a single, continuous effect, one which typically takes precedence over subtler intricacies, textural variety, or heartfelt lyricism. A lot of indie bands want to remind you that they’re just normal guys, singing normal songs about some girl they’re not sure they want to go out with, or what kind of cereal they eat in the morning. But not these doom dudes. These dudes are titans, they’re from parts unknown, and they don’t make music. They make carcass trains.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love this kind of music, and I don’t mean to downplay, or poke fun at, any legitimate response to what it might invoke. So, if only for the sake of argument, I want to put a genuine effort into describing what Sunnata’s Climbing the Colossus would be if I closed my eyes and let some drug-induced vision replace what I otherwise know to be the work of mere mortals. Here goes:
Sunnata’s Climbing the Colossus is an archaic machine. After our own civilization has ended, and the world has been left barren by [take your pick of apocalyptic catastrophe], it rises from beneath the earth and plows through the few crumbling remains of humanity. It is a sophisticated machine, but an unfamiliar one, and the survivors of our race know it to be millions of years old, the handiwork of a civilization eons before our own, buried so deep beneath the earth that this is the first sign any human has ever seen of it. Perhaps it was left here by aliens, perhaps planted by some forgotten deity; regardless, what’s clear is that it was deliberately hidden, set to remain dormant until the day that humanity would no longer stand as a hindrance to its agonizing progress. And that day has come. It moves slowly, steadily, mercilessly oblivious to whatever might stand in its way. It gets closer and closer, and as it does we come to see that within its industrial framework there’s something glowing red, pulsing. For fuck’s sake this thing has a heart. And I don’t mean it has heart as in, it has a soft side, I mean there is a living, beating organ within that son of a bitch that keeps it going. This is not merely a machine, but some monstrous hybrid of the mechanic and organic, and as it nears that pulse becomes overwhelming. You stand there dumbfounded, utterly incapable of speech or motion as it lumbers past you, and as it moves on you’re shocked to find yourself still standing. It recedes further and further into the distance, but the pulse gets no less deafening, ringing still in your head as you watch it vanish…
Shit. Did I just describe Tarkus by mistake?
Oh well. Regardless, that’s what I want to say about Climbing the Colossus. Above all, it’s a really good album, and it succeeds at being a whole greater than the sum of its parts. It moves ever forward, and it pulses. It’s well built; everything fits together. It’s has a cool track listing that puts short, numbered interludes in between full songs, and the nice thing about this is that it means there’s no need to ever get soft within songs. They can just plod forward, slowly but surely, like some fucked up, subterranean, doomsday machine.
Download the album here. Close your eyes and and see what you see. You’ll be glad you did.