In an excellent article for NY Mag, writer Joe Hagan explores the inherent contradiction of the soothing power of really, really heavy music:
Little wonder that doom-metal bands have names that wouldn’t be out of place at the local yoga center: Om, Ocean, Earth. It’s extreme-volume therapy, a spa treatment in black Satan T-shirts. When I learned that another friend, a bankruptcy lawyer who spends his days sifting through the wreckage of defunct Wall Street firms, was also a doom devotee, I wasn’t terribly surprised. Apparently there’s something about a global financial meltdown that calls for a curative blast of palette-cleansing noise.
I’ll take this even further. It’s not uncommon for me to unwind from a long week with a stereo date and the night’s playlist consisting entirely of discs by the likes of Om, Earth, Nadja, Sunn O))), and Brois. Inevitably, I never reach the end of my soundtrack. I’m out cold, engrossed in a deep and heavy sleep.
Really, when you think about it, there isn’t much structural difference between the doom metal of Sunn O))) and the early ambient works of Eno. Both artists use slow chord progressions and repetition to lull the listener into a dream like state. It just so happens that one of those artists uses garagantuan blasts of guitar and a deathly low-end rumble to achieve that goal.