Nearly every drone metal album is bound to receive the inevitable comparison to Sunn O))), and unsurprisingly so. Drone is a difficult genre to master, what with it’s focus on mood and experience instead of typical songwriting tropes. Yet, while perusing reviews of Crystal Shipsss‘ I Will See No Moon No Sky a couple years ago before writing my own, I found a blog with an interesting take on the album genre. While not verbatim, their general assertion was as follows: Crystal Shipsss’ brand of drone metal may recall Sunn O))), but in the end, no band can claim ownership of “the drone.” But let’s fast forward a bit – what exactly does any of this have to do with Twinesuns‘ excellent new album, The Empire Never Ended? Well, after but a few minutes into the album, it’ll become clear that 1.) the bands sounds like Sunn O))) & 2.) this by no means discounts the sheer intensity and invention that they bring to the genre.
What helps make this a reality is Twinesuns’ marriage of the pure backbone of drone metal with a keen sense of how to subtly tinker with a familiar formula. Now, for starters, let’s make one thing clear: the band’s guitars are LOUD; one playthrough of “Die Zeit Ist Da” will make this abundantly clear. Every elongated, feedback-laden note will rattle your bones and terrify your soul. It’s striking to feel just how indebted these riffs are to noise; it’s volume and strength feel almost unconstrained from mere strings on a guitar neck. But once you’ve settled into thorough drone-riff pummeling like the opening track “Simon the Magus,” the band hits you with a sudden calm of unsettling guitar notes flashing in the darkness. If Earth recorded The Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull in an abandoned sanitarium rather than a dusty plain, this is likely what it’d sound like.
Then there are even quieter moments, which make heavy use of Moog synths. Tracks like “Pneuma” create a chilling, steady atmosphere that fans of The Haxan Cloak will latch onto. This contrast in sounds is perhaps a noticeable difference from the early-Sunn O))) sound most people will extract from Twinesuns’ style, as the band leans just enough on the moments of pure drone to achieve heaviness without saturation. The final trick up the band’s sleeve is an all of the above approach, leveraging each of the sounds they’ve mastered in one compact composition. The title track in particular does this incredibly well, what with its humming, plodding synth melodies being crashed into with walls of guitar before the entire song subdues, eventually presenting the guitars as bursts of thunder in the distance as a synth melody swirls into oblivion at the track’s conclusion.
As cliche as it might be to say when describing this kind of music, The Empire Never Ended is truly a record that must be allowed to sink in firsthand. Twinesuns do an excellent job of carving out their own style within a genre that so typically relies on trickle-down tactics from one sole purveyor of its sound. Any fans of drone metal would be remiss not to let the band’s viscous darkness drape over them.
The Empire Never Ended is available January 27 via Pelagic Records.