Album Review

Review: Sumac – The Deal (2015)

12" Glued Sleeve

I can safely say that Isis was a big game changer in terms of the type of music I was listening to before I heard them and the type of music I started listening to after them. Aaron Turner and the rest of the band created something I had never heard before. I remember it was the record In the Absence of Truth that was my first album experience with them, a record I still love. Since Isis broke up several years ago though, Aaron (along with the rest of the other members of Isis) have kept busy with various other side-projects and bands. Sumac – is the newest project from Turner.

The reason I kept bringing Turner up in the above paragraph is because he’s the only member of Isis in this band (if you still want to complain about me not mentioning them by name, sorry. I’ll mention them by name if any of them release an album I want to write about in the future). But onto Sumac. The rest of the band is filled out by Nick Yacyshyn (Baptists) on drums and Brian Cook (Russian Circles, Botch) on bass with Turner on guitar and vocals.

To focus only Turner for one more paragraph,  since Isis dissolved he’s been involved with a variety of different projects. He’s performed in the experimental drone act Mamiffer with his wife Faith Coloccia, the industrial act Greymachine with Justin K. Broadrick, performed vocals on two Jodis records which include the likes James Plotkin and Tim Wyskida, played with members of Circle in the crust punk group Split Cranium, among several other groups. He’s a busy guy who wears a lot of hats in many different groups. But it’s nice to hear him come back to doing something much more straightforward after all the experimentation (some of which I’ve really dug, some of which I haven’t so much).

Sumac is a grinding sludge group that, in my opinion, have released a monster of a debut album here. The Deal is among the very best records I have heard this year. I seriously cannot stop listening to it. Sludge metal is a genre that, more often than not, is one I think most people do not associate with the adjective “grinding”, but this is one of the few words that I felt comfortable using to describe the sound on this record. The guitar tone is mainly what makes that word come to mind for me. It’s not the typical sludgy, low-end heavy sound. It’s more brittle sounding, more mid-rangy – at least to my ears.

The rhythm section of the band kick ass on here. Both Cook and Yacyshyn bring together such lively performances. There’s a reason why Yacyshyn is so respected by other musicians – just listen to his playing on here. The dude grooves hard, like REALLY HARD. The drum sound on most records today mostly feel the same, sometimes a drummer might have a style that sticks out or whatever but for the most part, it’s pretty hard to differentiate one drummer from the next. Not on here. Yacyshyn hits hard – and it definitely sounds like it. I’m listening to the album as I write this review and I find myself wondering how often he has to replace the heads and cymbals on his kit.

Cook brings the low-end rumble that I love to hear on a record. For the most part he’s in sync with the guitars, but it’s great to actually hear a bass that doesn’t just blend in with them. Because the guitars sound more mid-rangy, the bass really brings that low-end to the table. Listening to this in my car, I could feel that bass.

It also has to be said that while the group focuses on groove for the majority of the record, the riffs that are played are just killer. I’ve had riffs from the title-track and Hollow King pop into my head ever since I first heard this album (back when it was released). The riffs are more in line with that kind of post-hardcore kind of vibe that was found on the early Isis recordings; and while I can’t say those were ever my favorite releases from the band, the riffs on them were always monstrous. Here – the slay.

So yeah, as I mentioned above, I think this is one of the best records released this year. The songs are great and really my only complaint is that it isn’t longer. I wish there was another song or two on here because the four main tracks that are on here (because there is an intro and outro) slay. I’ve put this thing on repeat and listened to almost nothing else for days and it still rocks as hard as the first time I heard it (if anything I like it even more now). Definitely check it out if you haven’t already.


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