Sunn O))) & Pita, Vienna Arena, 3 June 2009

An overwhelmingly loud and brutal concert from the metal band it’s OK to like (and certainly the only one I like). In fact this evening was more akin to a test of physical endurance than possibly any other I have seen. Here were Sunn O))) as they should be heard – just the two men on guitar, with no extraneous vocals or instrumentation. Playing – or, more accurately, improvising off – their 1999 début The Grimmrobe Demos, the duo issued a full 90 minutes of nothing but malevolent guitar drones and sub-bass frequencies monstrous enough to make your entire body quake.

There’s a lot of talk about Sunn O))) having a deadpan humour to their work, a certain quality of sending themselves up, but I can’t see it when the outcome is as relentlessly tortured and funereal as this. With their cowled selves only ever partially revealed through the impenetrable curtain of fog, their agonisingly slow onstage movements and their uncanny, somehow menacing salutes, O’Malley and Anderson seem less concerned with acknowledging a sense of the ridiculous than with presenting a coherent and disturbing vision of Hell.

Those who arrived early had the pleasure of seeing local laptop hero, and head honcho of Editions Mego, Pita aka Peter Rehberg, who forms one half of KTL with O’Malley. More or less reprising his April set at the Rhiz, Rehberg took full advantage of the much larger PA to generate ferocious coils of sound from his two Macbooks. That haunting and fevered third track from Get Out loomed particularly large again, sounding like a deranged part-animal/part-machine as it swooped and seethed about the place.

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