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SUMAC - What One Becomes

bryan.batiste   (124 reviews)

Posted: 05/11/2016 | Comments: 0 | Rate:

It was just over a year ago that I reviewed The Deal, the debut LP by supergroup of sorts SUMAC. The post metal trio features Aaron Turner of defunct band Isis and champions of social media and advance record trickery Old Man Gloom on vocals and guitar. The lineup is rounded out by Baptists drummer Nick Yacyshyn and Russian Circles bassist Brian Cook. I've already ranted and raved about the aforementioned record, so needless to say I was excited to have my ears punished by What One Becomes.

"Image Of Control" starts with immediacy, as wall of guitar drones a single chord while Yacyshyn and Cook occasionally accent with thunderous impact. Aaron Turner's throat shredding bark hits the mix after a minute of buildup, and is noticeably soaked in ambience. The overall ambience found on the record can be attributed to the venue in which the album was recorded. The Unknown Studio was formerly a Catholic Church in the early 1900's, which explains the magnificent ambience. Kurt Ballou had previously mixed The Deal, and has returned to handle all facets of production on What One Becomes. The term "dynamic range" is almost all but forgotten in the world of heavy music, and I'm happy to inform you that all facets of dynamic range are present on this record.

The aforementioned opener continues to build in intensity, trudging along over 10 minutes before finally breaking down to random squeaks and noise. "Rigid Man" picks right back up and drones along at a slow tempo while Turner's guttural bark accents dissonant chord stabs and palm muted passages. The beauty of the aforementioned ambience is displayed in the random breaks in chaos, as Turner's lone guitar drones on a single note or flashes with a solo over a wall of chaos. The back half of "Rigid Man" is a fine example of this, before transitioning back to a more direct attack until it's conclusion.

The 11 minute "Clutch Of Oblivion" builds upon a droning guitar and expands upon it for close to 4 minutes, before Turner's vocals hit and SUMAC takes you on a ride through various tempos and dynamics. The mammoth 17 minute "Blackout" starts with a tom heavy drum groove and Turner's vocals, before a chug heavy guitar riff joins in tandem with the aforementioned drum groove. The track maintains the same sludgy pace for close to 10 minutes, before briefly picking up the pace courtesy of Yacyshyn's acrobatic drumming.

Album closer "Will To Reach" maintains the pace and mood of the 50 minutes that precede it. Overall, I find the record to be a more straightforward performance from SUMAC that scaled back it's usage of electronic/noise elements. When used, they create great textures whether in a break amidst the sludge or when thrown on top of a build in chaos. What One Becomes will be released on June 10th via Thrill Jockey Records, and you can stream the track "Rigid Man" below:



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