Sumac, YOB, & Neurosis at Neumos

The nice thing about living in New York City, for SGM’s purposes, is that we tend to get a lot of shows passing through.  One could argue that the tradeoff is, say, Chinatown in the dead of summer and the stench of fish and garbage, large rodents and indestructible insects, and subway cars ripe with all sorts of heavy air and unpleasant odors.  But let’s not think about summer in the city just yet.

There are also times, however, when a band or bands do a short run of dates in other parts of the country and the tour looks so tempting that you find yourself on travel websites at odd hours of the night looking for flights to places like Seattle, Washington so you can see the trifecta of Sumac, YOB, and Neurosis at Neumos.  

Is this scenario hypothetical?  In this case no, that is exactly what I did.  My only regret being that I inadvertently stumbled upon that gross gum wall while I was wandering around Seattle.  Note to self, enticing stairs descending to pretty cobblestone streets don’t always result in mysterious Diagon-like alleys.  Sometimes they lead to a lot of people, mostly tourists, chewing gum, blowing bubbles and taking selfies while you awkwardly twitch in revulsion and try to push through while inexplicably holding your breath for no reason.

neumos-9

Sumac

 

So yeah, Sumac, YOB, and Neurosis at Neumos.  It was really something I wanted to experience, especially having heard so much about Neumos as a killer venue.  Sumac played first and compared to when I saw them at Saint Vitus, I felt like the energy at this show and for this particular set was on another level.  Maybe Seattle feels like home and the vibe is different, but it was palpable.  I always like watching the dynamic between bandmates and seeing these guys joking like brothers onstage and playing such intensely dynamic music together was really endearing.  The entire set had a very climactic feel to it, and when they struck their last chord it was like being snapped back to reality after a deep meditation.  Even the gentleman next to me couldn’t help but smile, look over at me and say “Man, that was transcendental!”  I could not have agreed more.

Up next was YOB, beautiful YOB.  One of the most zen metal bands ever to exist.  It’s so clear they love what they do and they love being on stage sharing their music with all of us.  Bathed in a warm kaleidoscope of light, guitarist Mike Scheidt removes you from the venue and the crowd and brings you into a rhythmic trance with him.  The unique mixture of worldly sounds, sludgy doom, and distorted vocals all creates the ethereal experience known as YOB.  It’s a feeling few bands are able to accomplish so sincerely.

neumos-12

YOB

Last but certainly not least, as we all know, was Neurosis.  I’m still kind of amazed at what a difference the venue made.  I’d never been fortunate enough to see Neurosis in a venue this size and it was really refreshing.  I could tell the crowd felt very connected to the band and hopefully the band felt the same.  A low stage also meant they were basically standing right in front of me, so close it was almost difficult to shoot at some points, which I found comical.  As I’ve  come to expect from Neurosis, their set was well crafted, with a natural ebb and flow.  Their recent anniversary show in San Francisco is still in the forefront of my mind as one of the best shows I’ve ever seen, but this show was a close second.

Check out the photo below!

-Skc Photo-

Sumac

 

YOB

 

Neurosis

Sumac at Saint Vitus, Brooklyn

It’s no secret that we at Some Girls Metal are rather fond of the various projects of Aaron Turner, both past and present.  His most recent endeavor, Sumac, is no exception.  Upon hearing they would be gracing the stage at Saint Vitus in Brooklyn not once but twice in a week, we made sure not to miss our chance to catch them live.

Turner has a commanding presence regarding his music.  He seems to approach everything with a level of seriousness and care I feel the music scene in general is lacking.  He stands no shorter than six feet tall and as he preps onstage, with brow furrowed and an intense look in his eyes, you can tell the only things he sees in front of him are his guitar, pedals, and amps.  He is in his element and whatever sounds we’re about to hear are carefully crafted between him and fellow bandmates, Brian Cook and Nick Yacyshyn.  

It is easy to see why Turner sought these specific people out while putting Sumac together. Cook’s bass playing with such bands as Russian Circles and These Arms are Snakes should be testament enough to the level of talent he possesses.  Combine that with Yacyshyn’s force-of-nature drums (he may currently be one of the best drummers on the metal scene) and you have a lethal concoction.  Every note, every moment, even the between-song looping feedback from Turner’s guitar felt deliberate and precise, almost like the sonic output from some obscure branch of math that you’d only learn by taking electives in school.

Not a word was spoken throughout the set, each member staying completely immersed in the music, but at the close, Turner turned and addressed the crowd with words that I have always felt should be said more often by people sharing something they love and are passionate about.  Metal in general tends to have a bad reputation as being something fueled solely by anger, and this has always been true and perhaps may always remain so. As Turner stated, anger is in fact a part of metal and his creative process, but it stems from a place of love.  A love of music, a love of playing, and a love of sharing it with people.

To me, that sentiment has always been at the core, and I was grateful to hear him share the same feelings.  It is for this same reason that I go to shows, take pictures at concerts, share albums I love with friends, and am a part of Some Girls Metal.  Metal has always provided me with “a place to go.”  A place where my feelings of anger seem as if they were being described and somehow my wounds were being licked.  It inspires me and drives me to put all of these feelings into my photography.  As are the songs created by musicians not just a song but a part of them, so are my photographs not just a picture, but a part of me.

Sumac was joined at this show by Jaye Jayle and Nordra.  Both felt like possible candidates for a Twin Peaks soundtrack, even while sounding very unalike, but I found myself more drawn to Nordra.   This one-woman unit from Seattle is a mix of guitar, pocket trumpet, loops, and vocals.  She is equal parts industrial and ambient with beautifully eerie vocals gliding on the surface.  I hope to see her name crop up more in the future.

Jaye Jayle brought their own brand of punk infused blues with them from Kentucky. Formed in 2013 by vocalist Evan Patterson, this group has only released a run of limited 7” pressings, but with their catchy songs and vagabond vibe, they were already well known by the crowd.  Forgoing house lighting and setting up their own single-bulb lighting system which gave their set a more down to earth vibe, as if they were stopping by a stranger’s house for a jam session.

Sumac has completed this leg of their tour but will join Neurosis and YOB for two very special performances in Seattle and Vancouver in support of Neurosis’ 30th anniversary. We look forward to seeing all of your beautiful faces in Seattle when we jump coasts to see how it’s done in Washington.  

-Skc Photo-

 

Nordra

 

Jaye Jayle
Sumac

 

On the Turntable – Sumac ‘What One Becomes’

SUMAC by Faith Coloccia-2

Sumac, Aaron Turner’s newly formed trio, has once again emerged on the doom metal scene with a second album; the jolting, sloshy epic that is What One Becomes. The album as a whole illustrates a contained chaos, as if Turner has thrown you into the depths of a harsh reality that you just have to deal with. The sludgy heaviness conflicts with the melodic guitar riffs, creating a never-ending confined space. Turner, formerly of Isis and Old Man Gloom, is once again joined by Brian Cook (Russian Circles, TAAS) and Nick Yacyshyn (Baptists), bringing in these noise elements to create an expansive space that shift away from the mechanical stomp-beats of his previous collaborations.

The leadoff song, “Image Of Control,” filled with scraping guitar riffs and heavy vocals, catalyzes the album’s pattern of jarring epics followed by impactful moments of peace.  The pockets of rhythmic drumbeats and steady bass within the following tracks, ‘Rigid Man’ and “Clutch Of Oblivion,” tease pleasantries that soon erupt into the same mayhem. Sumac has displayed the simple nature of the calm before the storm, just not in that order. The balance of anxiety and hope is eschewed by the ever-present darkness that looms both beneath the surface, and right in your face. 

While the album’s structure is interesting enough to distract from each song’s 10-minute mark, Turner’s vocals leave one wishing that he deviated more from traditional black metal singing style. For example in “Rigid Man,” Turner’s voice shifts from vivid darkness and longing, to splotchy and uncomfortable. Perhaps it’s Turner’s attempt to mimic the album’s fluctuating structure, however, it comes off more distracting than supportive of the overall theme of repression. Despite this, the work is strong as a whole. The album’s recording location, a former Catholic church in Anacortes, Washington, is perfection. The sound captured in the massive, repurposed space, now donned The Unknown, enhances the ambient, dense sound of the album. Sumac may lurch us around and throw us into the mosh pits, but they remain by our side with each step. What One Becomes effortlessly captures the juxtaposed feelings of anxiety and the things we tell ourselves to get through the day. 

What One Becomes was released on June 10th, 2016 by Thrill Jockey.

Rolling Image by Claudia X Valdes.

Article Image by Faith Coloccia

-Tallulah-

Sumac Announce Tour Dates

Sumac has just announced a run of tour dates in May and June in support of their upcoming album. What One Becomes is due out June 10th on Thrill Jockey Records and will be their second release.  You can listen to their newest track, “Rigid Man” here.  Check out the tour dates below!

05/20 Bellingham, WA – The Shakedown

05/21 Seattle, WA – Black Lodge

05/22 Portland, OR – Bunk Bar

05/23 Eugene, OR – The Boreal

05/24 Ashland, OR – Club 66

05/26 Chico, CA – TBA

05/27 San Francisco, CA – Hemlock Tavern

05/28 Sacramento, CA – Starlite Lounge

05/29 Los Angeles, CA – The Complex

05/30 Phoenix, AZ – Valley Bar

05/31 Albuquerque, NM – Sister

06/01 El Paso, TX – Bowie Feathers

06/03 Austin, TX – The Sidewinder

06/04 Dallas, TX – Club Dada

-Thalia Gore-

Sumac Unveil New Track

What One Becomes cover

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.

SUMAC by Faith Coloccia

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.

-Faint Sketches-

 

 

Sumac ‘What One Becomes’ Pre-Order on Thrill Jockey