Perched on the fringe of the extreme metal underground and named after the brand of vintage amplifiers they use, the band Sunn O))) creates 90 minute mostly-improvised live sets that focus on bass and sub-bass (20-60 Hz) tones, played at a volume of about 120 dB. With a motto of “Maximum Volume Yields Maximum Results,” loudness is their musical content, and the droning, low tones they project require multi-sensory
interpretation, as they are felt in the body as vibrations.
This paper explores the experience of a Sunn 0))) concert, as it transgresses and dominates the listener’s body, controlling available sensory data. The heavily amplified low frequencies bring the listener's body into direct contact with the physical properties of sound, touching it with bone-rattling vibrations. Cloaked in thick artificial fog, the means of sound production remain hidden. Furthermore, the sounds themselves rely more on effects pedals than on instrumental prowess; the plucking of a guitar string may supply the signal for several minutes of music. This combination of visual deprivation and aural/tactile overload enacts a ritual of sensory domination, to which the audience submits.