Sumac is a sludge metal supergroup, featuring members such as ex-Baptists drummer Nick Yacyshyn, Russian Circles bassist Brian Cook and none other than ex-Isis vocalist and guitarist Aaron Turner, who’s probably at his most prolific, looking at his recent output.
The band basically already released a third of the album before its actual release, seeing as it’s only 6 songs short. Both the first and the last track are comparatively short instrumentals that do their respective jobs pretty well.
Spectral Gold, which is the title of the opening track, consists of an ominous, atmosperic build up that starts the album off, whereas the closing track The Radiance of Being paints the picture of a vast, melancholic wasteland.
Those two instrumentals build a frame, which is filled with four tracks that range from 8 to 13 minutes, the first being Thorn in the Lion’s Paw.
The track begins with a piano sample that rings out until even the static cuts off and which gets repeated a few times until it’s joined by the intro riff. Most of the first half of the song is spent on a build up that leads to some band interplay halfway through the song that showcases how well those three guys perform together.
That section then leads into a really heavy and catchy groove segment of stoic riffing backed up by drum rolls and blastbeats which then goes over into the last third of the song, the outro, which also brings back some piano notes.
After that we have the track Hollow King, which is a bit more straightforward with a more emotional first third which transitions over into a pretty long “noise” section. After that the tone of the song switches drastically, with light, rock-ish sounding riffing that gets progressively heavier until it reaches the kind of default tone of the album again.
Following that song we have Blight’s End Angel, a doomier track that despite being 10 minutes long, doesn’t feel like that at all. It’s very well paced and captivating enough to make it seem shorter than it actually is. The last half of this song also features the heaviest, catchiest groove section of the entire album.
The last (actual) and longest track on this album is the title track, The Deal, that contains some slightly progressive elements. The Deal is at times very mysterious sounding with Aaron faintly shouting the back and then repeatedly goes back into louder, more upfront parts. However, the sound never really erupts but only gets increasingly more ominous and urging with one slow and low section that basically breaks the song down before we reach the atmospherically intense climax of the track.
Overall the band doesn’t disappoint in the slightest. The riffing and vocal performance of Aaron Turner is, as usual, captivating and I feel like his playstyle blends really well with the other two band members. I also enjoyed the really kind of initiative-taking drumming of Nick Yacyshyn and the heavy bass playing of Brian Cook that knows when to support and when to step up.
Sumac presents us with an outstanding debut record and I’m excited to see where this project is headed.