Gravetemple - Impassable Fears album review

Deafening Sunn O))) duo offer a new glimpse of the void

Cover art for Gravetemple - Impassable Fears album

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The most feverishly terrifying sounds tend to be spawned in the hideous spaces between ritualistic drone-doom, death-industrial and dark ambient. For every cold-sweat-inducing masterwork there are a dozen turgid dirges, but you can rely on Stephen O’Malley and Attila Csihar. Bonded in Sunn O))) since 2004, they’re seasoned sonic transgressors, and this is Gravetemple’s first studio album since their 2007 debut, so there’s none of the creative diarrhoea afflicting others in this idiom. The two gripping, disorientating 10-minute tracks sound like drone strikes on a performance art space where a zombie learns jazz drums during a poetry recital by a man turning into a werewolf, but at 35 minutes the album’s brevity feels like a distraction; inconsequential instrumental Domino sounds like a fire in a smoke alarm factory, and the synths radiate newfound celestial beauty at the end of Eternal Endless Void, for about a minute, and then the album’s over. Gravetemple’s stated aim is to induce trance states, but Impassable Fears feels more like a teaser trailer than the full immersion.

Chris Chantler

Chris has been writing about heavy metal since 2000, specialising in true/cult/epic/power/trad/NWOBHM and doom metal at now-defunct extreme music magazine Terrorizer. Since joining the Metal Hammer famileh in 2010 he developed a parallel career in kids' TV, winning a Writer's Guild of Great Britain Award for BBC1 series Little Howard's Big Question as well as writing episodes of Danger Mouse, Horrible Histories, Dennis & Gnasher Unleashed and The Furchester Hotel. His hobbies include drumming (slowly), exploring ancient woodland and watching ancient sitcoms.