98. Sunn O))), 'Monoliths & Dimensions' (2009)
"I would never claim that Sunn O))) is a jazz band, but I think there are elements of jazz, if it's not the tone, it's the theories and the openness," Sunn O)))'s Greg Anderson told The Wire. While no one will confuse Dave Brubeck with Sunn O)))'s signature roar – wall-rumbling slabs of drumless, heavily amplified electric-guitar drone – the open-ended platform allows the avant-metal duo to collaborate and experiment with ease. Over the years they've teamed with indie-rock violinist Petra Haden, shoegaze-metal stalwarts Boris, noise artist Merzbow and a parade of black-metal vocalists. Inspired by the free-form/longform work of Miles Davis' electric era, sixth album Monoliths & Dimensions is their most expansive to date. Here, the band opens their dark drones up to string, brass and choir arrangements courtesy of Seattle composer Eyvind Kang, giving their long-held notes cinematic drama. For album closer "Alice," a 16-minute sun-dappled meditation that stands as the band's best song, John Coltrane/Duke Ellington trombonist Julian Priester adds a gorgeous coda as the heavy-metal textures fade into mellow ambient twinkle. "I literally almost cried when I heard it," said Anderson. "It's so moving. I was so blown away." C.R.W.