Sunn O)))


Sun O))): "Báthory Erzébet"

from Black One (Southern Lord; 2006)

By Mark Abraham | 2 February 2006

This track’s named after a 17th century member of the Transylvanian aristocracy who liked to bathe in the blood of virgins to preserve her aging skin. Elizabeth Báthory eventually decided that drinking the blood might also be a good idea, and would often do so directly from the slit throats of her victims. Not to be one-upped by his subject, claustrophobic Xasthur member Malefic sends us his vocal track from inside a locked casket. Way to be creepy, Sunn O))).

If that all seems gimmicky, then put on a warm bath before cranking this up. The opening drones nail bathtub reverb, distending and sputtering like water (or, um, blood) pressing against eardrums. And, while I’m no expert on 17th century Transylvanian home design, the frigid tones littered with subterranean bass and electronics seem to capture the ambience (and, I assume, lack of heat) perfectly. Echoing Báthory’s fear of aging, a solemn bell that tolls infrequently in the distance is the only sense of tempo in this slow and deliberate piece.

In fact, the tension between Báthory’s guilt and her tragedy might just be the hook. In the second act, as Malefic must confront his own fears to sing a song about a murderer (and much of it is simply frightened breathing), Sunn O))) create a dark sludge of droning guitars peppered with shining glistens of hopeful feedback. Stick this on your Tender Tributes to Serial Killers, Vol. 1 mixtape next to “John Wayne Gacy, Jr.” Another band would insert the scene where Báthory kills and imbibes her victims; Sunn O))) veer left and create a majestic soundscape narrating (with at least a little sympathy) the vamp’s last moments as she died, alone, in her castle.