The notion of heaviness in music has been redefined and obfuscated so many times that sometimes it’s easy to forget that revelatory moment when you first experienced it.
Metal’s staple tropes will be no help to you whatsoever during Soused, this meeting of maverick minds and morbid mischief-makers. This is very much Scott Walker’s album, and anyone who’s been thrilled (or, indeed, appalled) by his recent solo work will instantly recognise that amorphous signature of nightmarish stream of consciousness married to unfamiliar sounds that jar, jab and disorientate. But the key to enjoying these cracked aural visions lies in the contribution of Sunn O))). There’s a fierce logic behind this collaboration in the first place, of course, but Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson have built an artistic reputation on their ability to slow down time and to enable us to plunge bodily and spiritually into the space between thick wads of bowel-loosening resonance. Having been dragged into Scott Walker’s world of avant-garde horror, those reliable Sunn tools of perpetual drone and mortified serenity are instantly knocked off balance, as shards of verbal grotesquery repeatedly but irregularly pierce the humming void. All the hirsute duo can do is hide in the sonic shadows and churn out as much intimidating bottom end as they can muster, while throwing any number of warped distractions into the resultant storm. At certain points – the hellish, clanking lurch of Bull, the restless, monochrome haunting of Lullaby – it almost sounds as if Scott Walker is narrating the Sunn boys’ most harrowing fever dreams, as their trademark drones splinter and change course, wrenching the rug of familiarity from under their feet. And yet every last moment here makes a kind of cockeyed sense, every textural pause punctuated by a lyrical knife-thrust, every burst of poetic obscurity underpinned by a surge of speaker-frying soul. It’s fair to say that most Black Stone Cherry fans will not know quite what to make of Soused, but for those who relish an opportunity to experience the dark magic of creativity cubed, this is 2014’s most irresistible beckoning finger.