Sumac – The Deal (Profound Lore)

Thursday, 12th February 2015
Rating: 7.5/10

Since the disbandment of Isis (you know which one), vocalist/guitarist Aaron Turner has had his hands in a lot of projects, none of which rivaled the monolithic post-strokes of his former breadwinner. Indeed his work in the acclaimed Old Man Gloom is always ear-catching, yet apparently the urge is still there for Mr. Turner to go forth with some unbridled heaviness, which is where Sumac comes in.

Designed as a full-fledged band with touring prospects imminent, Turner is joined by Baptists basher Nick Yachshyn on the drums, as well as session bassist Brian Cook. The band’s first output is the strident The Deal, a body of work that naturally recalls some of the rip-roaring action found across those mandatory Isis albums, yet with more flexibility in the arrangement and rhythm department, as in, don’t expect a deluge of those fantastic quiet-loud-quiet moments Isis had mastered. Sumac wisely avoids pillaging that idea-scape.

Turner’s bearded, supremely ugly bark has remained intact, and is practically indecipherable as ever. While he’s not capable of carrying a song with his vocals, he’s got the right angle to things on a jam like the bristling “Thorn in the Lion’s Paw,” which canvasses complex drum patterns and discordant riffing. The noise-laden, pounding “Blight’s End Angel” gets the nod as The Deal’s most involved song, where upon Yachshyn gives his tom’s a full workout, along with a steady diet of no-frills, surging riffs from Turner. The title track follows suit, with an array of un-godly bellows, and some excellent use of quiet dynamics and space, something that (as noted prior) wasn’t overdone.

Mad props to Turner for even attempting a new band. His legacy in Isis is virtually untouchable, and rightfully so, but Sumac shouldn’t do anything to sully what he’s done before. Rather, the band appears to looking to operate a familiar, yet not totally comfortable plane, something that serves The Deal quite well in the near-term.

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