Monday, 2 May 2016

Sumac - "What One Becomes" (Album Review)

By: Charlie Butler

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 10/06/2016
Label: Thrill Jockey


The fact is, this is a monolithic, multi-faceted, beast of an album.  Rigid Man” sees Sumac in familiar territory, relentless riffs raining down on the listener like an armour plated Shellac playing Isis’ “Celestial”.  The band weave seamlessly between periods of crushing heaviness, fragile calm, hypnotic repetition and mind-bending mathematical chaos and overall “What One Becomes” sees Sumac taking all of their previous achievements as a foundation and building something even bigger in their own unique vision. This album sees Sumac really find their voice and deserves to see them mentioned in the same breath as their forbears.



“What One Becomes” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1). Image of Control
2). Rigid Man
3). Clutch of Oblivion
4). Blackout
5). Will to Reach

The Review:

Just over a year has passed since the release of Sumac’s stellar debut “The Deal” and the trio are back already with an embarrassment of riches in the form of “What One Becomes”.

Given the short gestation period of their new LP you would be forgiven for expecting a raw, back-to-basics record. The fact that it is a monolithic, multi-faceted, beast of an album that sounds like the product of years of craft is all the more impressive. It’s hard to talk about the band without discussing the members’ incredible track records - their times spent in the hugely influential likes of Isis, Old Man Gloom, Botch, These Arms Are Snakes and Baptists all make a mark here.

Image Of Control” opens the album in difficult fashion, everyone flailing furiously at their instruments to create a simmering cauldron of free noise. Even once they settle into a more recognisable structure it isn’t an easy ride. This is much more jagged and awkward then anything on “The Deal” yet still recognisable as Sumac and completely compelling. There is more evident organic complexity to the music here too, probably the product of this album being the first created by all three members in collaboration.

Rigid Man” sees Sumac in more familiar territory, relentless riffs raining down on the listener like an armour plated Shellac playing Isis’Celestial”. The moment when Aaron Tuner’s wrings searing notes from his guitar as Brian Cook and Nick Yacyshyn lock into a tectonic plate-shifting groove is truly transcendent. All three members are at the top of their game throughout, with Yacyshyn’s furiously inventive drumming raising everything into a higher dimension, particularly at the frantic climax of “Will To Reach”.

The full scope of Sumac’s expanded sonic palette is best demonstrated during the 17 minute behemoth “Blackout”. The track covers a huge amount of stylistic and dynamic ground during its mammoth duration, crafting a jaw-dropping progressive voyage into the beyond. The band weave seamlessly between periods of crushing heaviness, fragile calm, hypnotic repetition and mind-bending mathematical chaos.

While “The Deal” was a fine debut, it felt a little like a re-tread of former glories, albeit in glorious style. “What One Becomes” sees Sumac taking all of their previous achievements as a foundation and building something even bigger in their own unique vision. This album sees Sumac really find their voice and deserves to see them mentioned in the same breath as their forbears. At this rate I look forward to a paradigm-shifting triple LP sometime in 2017.

“What One Becomes” is available here



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3 comments:

jediak said...

You lucky cat you, I've been eagerly anticipating this release, can't wait to hear it.

Unknown said...

I could listen to Nick Yacyshyn play drums all day. What a pure fucking beast.

Unknown said...

I could listen to Nick Yacyshyn play drums all day. What a pure fucking beast.