Soused is unlike any previous Scott Walker recording for two reasons. First, it's a complete collaboration with the doom drone duo Sunn 0))); second, it, unlike any of his albums since 1984's Climate of Hunter, requires no previous context for appreciation. While these five tracks are undeniably "heavy," as a whole the music is more conventionally "melodic" than one would anticipate from this pairing. Sunn 0)))'s Greg Anderson and Stephen O'Malley add their third guitarist, Tos Nieuwenhuizen, while Walker is again assisted by longtime associate keyboardist and sound sculptor Peter Walsh, with an unusually small cast of players. "Brando" kicks off with bright keyboards and Nieuwenhuizen playing lead lines straight out of '80s pop-metal. Walker's baritone erupts like he's singing musical theater: "Ah the wide Missouri/Dwellers on the bluff/Across the wide Missouri..." before his centered denouement admits "...No, never enough...." Sunn 0)))'s overdriven power drones, a bass drum, and the sound of cracking bullwhips enter before Walker intones: "A beating would do me a world of good." The fractured imagistic narrative unfolds lyrically and sonically, juxtaposing pastoral nature with violence as the language of exchange in power and submission, religiously and carnally. In "Herod 2014," Walker addresses one of his favorite topics: totalitarianism. He uses the New Testament narrative of the slaughter of innocents as a metaphor for the endgame of state paranoia. Amid distorted and detuned angular guitar drones are massive throbbing keyboard and drum effects and a lone bell. Though sometimes nearly drowned in the mix, the bell is constant -- the mother's voice protecting her children. "Bull"'s atonal guitars squall onto a wall of sine-wave hum, feedback, Moog, bleating trumpet, and voices in dynamic textural shifts. It's dangerously, deliciously close to heavy metal. "Lullaby" is the most abstract thing here, yet its recurring sectional themes are easy to accommodate. A limited palette of sonic colors creates a frame for doomy, droning, and stinging metallic guitar riffs, dissonant and melodic keyboard effects, and programmed drums. Throughout the set, Walker's lyrics are more than poetic devices; they're textural and sonic elements that add dimension to his singing. As defined here, "Soused" accurately means "drenched" in sound. Walker's and Sunn 0)))'s individual identities, while always on full display, are brought jaggedly and thunderously together in an enthralling recording that equals the sum of its mighty parts.
AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek