SUNN O))) and KHANATE's Stephen O'Malley picks 5 intense metal songs over 15 minutes | Revolver

SUNN O))) and KHANATE's Stephen O'Malley picks 5 intense metal songs over 15 minutes

Long-form heaviness curated by a man who knows
khanate 2023 PROMO, Ebru Yildiz
photograph by Ebru Yildiz

Last week, Khanate — the cult doom-drone supergroup featuring members of Sunn O))), OLD and Blind Idiot God — resurfaced without warning after a self-imposed 14-year hiatus, surprise-releasing their new, fifth album, To Be Cruel. The three-track, 60-minute follow-up to 2009's Clean Hands Go Foul is long-form extreme metal at its most grueling and gut-wrenching. Considering that each of its songs tops the 15-minute mark, Revolver reached out to the guitarist Stephen O'Malley, also of Sunn O))), to get his picks for his favorite metal songs by other artists that boast similarly attention-span-challenging runtimes.

"Here are the cream which came to mind," O'Malley responded. "The word 'favorite' is probably irrelevant, if I'm to be honest, but these [songs] have all nailed themselves to my neurons for various reasons."

Check out his selections below.

Sleep - "Dopesmoker/Jerusalem"

In the first degree, a no-brainer. In the second-degree degree, no-brain. A third-degree, no-knowing. Driving through Georgia in a stinking minivan packed with Joe Preston, Khanate and Sigh (and Yosuke from Abigail), one of the oddest tours I've attended. Stoned and wading in simmering hostility, daydreaming of bombers over Dresden. Incredible how popular this album has become over the years and its legacy… evergreen masterpiece.

Abruptum - "Obscuritatem Advoco Amplectère Me"

One of the most unlikely candidates for avant-garde/experimental music crossover in the history of metal. Abruptum has been discussed rigorously with (and by) cryptomusicologists from The Wire more than any other black-metal band. The differential between Scorpions, Link Wray and Underground Resistance. It is under a sofa. Electrocution of the singer. The recipes of myth-making.

Abruptum - "Vi Sonus Veris Nigrae Malitiaes"

It's probably the greatest of the original three Abruptum albums. Nearly touching the void of the 7-inch (demos were primordial). And also Tony Särkkä's solo album. After 15 years, I understood this to be Abruptum's kind of "Ultimate sin." Guitar style, satanic gloss and crude digitalization of the arcane. This album was also one which broke the pure charming spell of black metal forever, for me. The naïveté devastated. Bury it.

Abruptum - "In Umbra Malitiae Ambulabo, In Aeternum In Triumpho Tenebraum"

Dan Swanö's podcast memoirs about recording this masterpiece (and many other records) are amusing, insightful and decorated, and he says it all. Dan donated a DAT to Tony to record for 74 minutes, but only in stereo. Dan left the session with the DAT (stereo) running for an hour to go home and eat sandwiches. A steaming pile was captured, until the Alesis reverb coated at 80 percent… which defined "the audial essence of pure black evil." The first time I visited Stockholm (1997), I had arranged a meeting with Säarkä, but it wasn't meant to be. For the best, I was an asshole, and the flame of Abruptum is alive in the consciousness to this day. Horrible and horrifying.

Corrupted - "Garten Der Unbewusstheit"

All of the releases of this band are magnificent, but you know that. No cartoons here. I once saw them as a trio at Conpass in Osaka (Heavy played bass). The guitarist's tone was nihilistic, layers upon layers of digital clipping distortion, absolutely acid — the acrid smell of frying speaker cone glue and type C overheating amplifiers, their temple incense. Have yet to encounter such an antagonizing and aggressive tone as that set.