What happens when you combine Aaron Turner of legendary band Isis, powerhouse drummer Nick Yacyshyn of Baptists, and Brian Cook of the incomparable Russian Circles? You get Sumac. One of the most phenomenal bands to recently emerge onto the metal scene. Ever since the 2015 release of their debut album, The Deal fans have been anxiously awaiting their next release. The recent reveal of a song off of their next album, What One Becomes has only raised the bar for what we can expect from this band in the future. The album was recorded at The Unknown in Anacortes, WA and mixed at GodCity Studios in Salem, MA with Kurt Ballou. It is set to be released this June, and this exceptional track is only making that wait seem even longer.
Fans of Isis, Russian Circles, and Baptists should not go into Sumac wanting or expecting it to sound like any of those bands. It is its own entity, entirely separate from the trademark sound of each band the members are from. Sumac reflects each member’s talent and excessive skill, without leaning heavily on past experience or styles. Aaron Turner, for example, has a distinct voice, yet when one listens to Sumac, they are not reminded of Isis. Neither are they reminded of the epic, poignant sounds of Russian Circles, or the driving relentlessness of Baptists. What we have is an entirely new sound, forged from the fire of a unique creative vision.
Photo by Faith Coloccia
The new track, “Rigid Man” begins with heavy, hard-hitting bass, drums, and distorted, electric guitar. Once Turner’s voice barrels into the fray, the song immediately becomes more pulsating and rhythmic. You immediately hear how in tune each instrument is with one another, almost to the point where the individual sounds weave into a tapestry of depth and intensity, where one is entirely dependent on the other to create the desired image. Around four minutes in, the song takes its first dive into a more spacey, almost meditative sound that makes it easy to get lost in. The complexity of the guitar picks up and deviates some from the sound on their debut album, especially as the song trails off into a low, screech, then into near silence.
At this point, the song transforms into something that sounds almost experimental. Gentle, scraping guitar and ambient noise dominate the soundscape, which allows the listener to reflect after the initial onslaught of heaviness. This continues up to eight and a half minutes, when it suddenly feels as though the band returns after a brief absence, and the former brusqueness returns with them. The song then carries with yet more power and intensity until the distortion from the amps slowly fades into silence. The end result is a ten minute song that takes you on a journey, and leaves you aching to hear what else this band has in store.