SUMAC got attention in early 2015 when the supergroup, featuring well known post-metal/sludge musicians like Aaron Turner (Isis), Nick Yacyshyn (Baptists) and Brian Cook (Russian Circles), set out to create some of the heaviest music they had separately released until then, and ‘The Deal’ was the result of that. Now, the band is back with their sophomore album ‘What One Becomes’, continuing the crushing hardcore-sludge endeavor.
With ‘What One Becomes’, SUMAC goes a step further with complexity of song structures and the tracks are more powerful than ever. Top-notch production, thanks to Kurt Ballou of Converge fame, enables the formation of suffocating and dreary atmosphere. The album swings from hypnotic and meditative droning to immense aural pounding pretty fluently. The engaging interplay between the murky and sludgy guitars and bludgeoning drumming is what ties this bunch of ideas together so well. There are five tracks on this record, none of which are shorter than 9 minutes, and yet there are enough interesting concepts to not sound monotonous.
“Image of Control” and “Rigid Man” focus on noisy stifling sludge and ambience that pricks the uncomfortable zone of your mind. There is dissonance aplenty and the tracks are successful in creating sensations analogous to slimy creepy organisms crawling under your skin. They play the patient game of slow buildups and avoid superimposing everything together just to make it sound heavy. The vocals add appropriate character to these tracks. “Clutch of Oblivion” takes a calmer and more melodic approach to post-metal and is quite a departure from the atmosphere of the previous tracks.
Well that was only temporary, as “Blackout” brings some tension back as foray with chunky and droning riffs. This is the longest track of the record running for a whopping 17 and a half minutes of playing around with a variety of ideas. The track is a summary of SUMAC; there are sludgy riffs, droning and hypnotic sections, tempo changes, progressive guitar work, dissonance and an opus of pictorial ambience. “Will to reach” picks up the energy as you see more anger in the writing and the aura of doom is quite evident in the track. The exit act sees the band put in its all with speed and aggression and the blast beats add to the impending nothingness that waits after the album ends.
‘What One Becomes’ is what an album becomes when stretch your arms of experimentation further while continuing on the emotions seen in the previous works. There were sections that created a terrifying experience while some that makes one move about in anger. I did find areas where I drifted away in thought, and I don’t know whether that is a good or a bad thing, in that I lost attention from the music but it did push me towards a quasi-meditative state. Sludge and post-metal fans will love this album, and the heavier tracks are recommended for everyone else as well.