Release Date: Jun 10, 2016
Record label: Thrill Jockey
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Metal, Heavy Metal, Noise-Rock, Sludge Metal, Post-Metal
Sumac, Aaron Turner’s new trio, succeeds at making minimalist doom metal because they recall what fans of Isis loved without resembling his past work in the slightest. Sludgy heaviness and melody meet as before, but they clash instead of meld, and their fraught coexistence is drawn out. Turner attempted this with Split Cranium, a collaboration with Finnish experimental/metal linchpin Jussi Lehtisalo, but the space he affords himself in Sumac goes a long way.
What One Becomes is the second album by Sumac, a trio led by Aaron Turner, formerly of Isis. Sumac's sound is somewhere between brutal sludge metal and chaotic experimental noise rock, with harsh, guttural growls and scorching guitars accompanied by explosive drumming. When the rhythms are steady, they're often slow and hammering, but they never stay in the same place for long.
Striking while the iron is hot, Sumac are unleashing their sophomore album, What One Becomes, a little over a year after debut The Deal. The bull-headed pace and dense riffing remain, but the songs are augmented by a more visceral and disorienting take on the trio's bestial brand of metal. Here, Sumac have penned five expansive odes to our fragmented attempts at stabilizing personal identity that are equal parts confounding and cathartic.The most immediate development is an almost complete abstention from traditional song structure.
Having released one of 2016’s most ethereally beautiful albums in the form of Mamiffer’s The World Unseen, former Isis dude Aaron Turner crops up again with one of its heaviest. And boy, do we mean heavy. The five mini-epics that make up What One Becomes are absolute spine-crushers; real hole-in-the-surface-of-the-earth stuff, and their density and duration make for a punishing listen.
The overwhelming impression that What One Becomes gives is of deliberately plodding doom metal. It’s heavy like a man using chains to pull huge cinder blocks across an expanse of concrete. While that’s an evocative image, it’s not a particularly pleasant one. And so it goes with Sumac’s music.
With a collective résumé of Isis (the band), Old Man Gloom, Baptists, Botch, and Russian Circles, it would be understandable if Sumac never emerged from the shadow of its members’ past achievements. But the band transcends its supergroup status with What One Becomes. Sumac’s first LP, The Deal, is an angular mindfuck, though it also bleeds outside the lines—a bit too much.
Look at the cover for Sumac’s new record, What One Becomes. Just look at it. It’s a fucking mess, but an artful one. And it’s a fitting description the album’s content. With members of Isis and Botch, you know going in this is gonna be ugly and confrontational music. But it's Chuck ….