SUMAC – Love In Shadow

Big time artists do big-time things, at big times, to paraphrase my favorite sports analogy. 2018 is shaping up to be a crazier time in the world than ever, full of chaos, and special kind of hubris that fuels the mania. Art is typically a reflection of society, and for me personally, I have been clinging to art in a vain attempt to help save my own life in this tumultuous time. One of those artists giving me life has been underground supergroup SUMAC, with songs as big as the all caps in their name. Turning in yet another massive release with Love In Shadow (Thrill Jockey), the band peels back the curtain on this undercurrent running through all of us and shows us the glorious ugliness many choose not to see. Continue reading

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The Body – I Have Fought Against It, But I Can’t Any Longer

Throughout their recent collaborative works with Full of Hell and Thou, Portland noise conjurers The Body have released their seventh studio album I Have Fought Against It, But I Can’t Any Longer on Thrill Jockey, leaving listeners shaken with content dejection. The experimental duo, Lee Buford and Chip King, have been testing the definition of ‘heavy’ since the early 2000s but this body of work has finally shattered the preconception. Continue reading

Stream The Body And Full Of Hell’s “Ascending A Mountain Of Heavy Light” EP

The Body and Full Of Hell released their Ascending A Mountain Of Heavy Light EP last month, and as Ross said in his 7/10 review, these two bands “continue to push the boundaries of what qualifies as music.” In case you’re still unsure about picking it up or not, Thrill Jockey is streaming the entire EP online right now. Continue reading

The Body And Full Of Hell – Ascending A Mountain Of Heavy Light

The Body and Full Of Hell are no strangers to collaborations or to each other, as both acts have teamed up in the past together and individually with some of the undergrounds best bands (Thou, Code Orange, Krieg etc). One Day You Will Ache Like I Ache (Neurot) was an assault on the senses, and you’d expect nothing less from both bands, but with Ascending a Mountain of Heavy Light (Thrill Seeker) they look to push the boundaries of what qualifies as music even further. Continue reading

SUMAC – What One Becomes

SUMAC - What One Becomes album cover ghostcultmag

With the formation of SUMAC back in 2014 featuring Aaron Turner (Isis, Old Man Gloom), Nick Yacyshyn (Baptists) and Brian Cook (Russian Circles, These Arms Are Snakes) and the release of their début album, The Deal, shortly afterwards, the metal community was taken back by the sheer exponential experimentation that was introduced on this project. And let’s just say that they left quite a raw post-metal-ish impression. Nevermind that the expectations were already set pretty high with such an all-star line-up, but what is more stunning is that they met them effortlessly with The Deal, showing the machinic beauty in minimalistic chaos.

Now one can only wonder what to expect from SUMAC’s sophomore release, What One Becomes, having newly signed to Thrill Jockey Records. How are they going to show progress after such a smashing début? Well, they sure as hell did something because the bar has officially been set higher for all bands in the cold metal game. This 5-track LP is a masterpiece of mechanical pandemonium and order, props to Kurt Ballou (Converge) for mixing. All tracks clock in a minimum of 10 minutes, with the longest one, ‘Blackout’, being a 17-minute journey. One of the aspects of this record that stand out the most from the previous is that on the balance scale of control and chaos… a tad more weight was placed on control although chaos still has more emphasis.

The first stand-out track, ‘Image of Control’, pushes out an interpretation of what it feels to be in constant battle with an anxiety-ridden mind. It begins its manifestation with confused out-of-key guitar distortion and cavernous vocals. But as the clouds of confusion begin to break, the lone guitar signifies the deep breathe of relief to finally gain order in the midst of it all. And so begins the heavy monologue of awkwardly orchestrated harmony between the zombie guitar/bass riffs and marching drums. To the untrained ear, it may sound like just noise. But with each additional listen, one will realize the strong musicianship and technical skills needed to create this amazing sound.

Another stand-out track is, without a doubt, ‘Clutch of Oblivion’. It starts off with a somber annunciated guitar riff which leads into a slow progressive groove that can easily give you an Isis flashback. But SUMAC is a lot dirtier sounding and experimental, which is one of the greatest differentiations from the band members’ past projects in general. Nevertheless, the track suddenly shifts from that familiarity to this wall of epic sound, bringing the listener back down to harsh cold earth. The technicality is most notable on this track because the time signatures throughout this entire track (and every track for that matter) are so strange and unpredictable that it leaves you intrigued.

With the magnitude of progressive and experimental metal available for your listening pleasure, you can often find yourself knowing what’s coming next whether it be a down tempo breakdown, extended distortion or ambience. But with SUMAC, you truly cannot see what’s coming. Every track on the album leaves an everlasting feeling and one can easily find themselves circling back through the entire album without hesitation. This solid body of work is truly a highlight of 2016 metal releases thus far and will surely be on plenty of end-of-the-year lists.

9.5/10


EBONIE BUTLER

 

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