On the Long, Numbingly Repetitive Ancestry of New York’s “Let There Be Doom” Sunn0))) Review


New York magazine is good for one absolutely maddening piece about music every month or so, whether it be the much reviled “Jukebox” feature, once described in this space as “a shame, and a perpetually bad omen,” or the mag’s Mountain Goats feature in March, about which the name– “God & Worshipper: A Rock-and-Roll Love Story, of Sorts: The complex bond between the Mountain Goats’ John Darnielle and his sensitive fans.“–says it all, although at the time we then tried to say even more. One reason for this is the magazine’s inexplicable preference for writers (or worse, “citizen critics”) who don’t usually write about music–by no means a dealbreaker, as Peter Terzian’s upcoming Heavy Rotation anthology amply demonstrates, but often one. Among other things, the practice tends to lead to startling and dispiriting ledes like the one below:

    The last thing anyone expects at age 38 is to become a fan of something called “doom metal.” But one evening I asked a friend–a perfectly reasonable 42-year-old, gainfully employed with a nice family–what kind of music he enjoyed, and his fateful answer dropped like an anvil: “Metal.” Professional curiosity led me to join him one night at the Knitting Factory, where I bore witness to the work of a Japanese doom-metal band called Boris: four silhouetted figures on a fog-choked stage, laser lights shooting from behind their heads, playing the absolute loudest music I had ever heard in my life.

Something called “doom metal.” This, literally three years after the similarly pitched and now infamous “Heady MetalNew York Times Magazine cover, which presumably addressed the same group of potentially imaginary neophytes as New York would surely say they’re addressing here. The Times piece, as a matter of fact, was preceded by an even earlier Times feature, hilariously titled “Heavy Metal Gets an M.F.A.,” and a 2005 Slate piece–“Heavy Metal For Hipsters.”

All of these pieces, like New York‘s new “Let There Be Doom,” pretty much take Sunn0)))– the two-man wrecking crew whose Monoliths & Dimensions is only the latest of a string of compelling albums that date back nearly a decade–as their ostensible starting point. And all of them operate on various degrees of the assumption that their audience has no idea what the fuck they’re talking about, an assumption that in 2009 is starting to feel more like parody than customer service. (“There’s something about a global financial meltdown that calls for a curative blast of palette-cleansing noise,” etc.) And while we could continue to angrily quote from the review, we’ll instead merely demand again that the powers that be at the magazine let Nick Catucci out from whatever soundproofed cage they’ve been keeping him in and turn this whole show over to a someone who actually knows what they are talking about.