Sumac – The Deal (2015)


Author: Gay For Gary Oldman

Artist: Sumac

Album: The Deal

Label: Profound Lore


Straying from the stricter confined of pure metal for the moment, members of Isis, Old Man Gloom, Botch and Baptists team up for a monumental slab of sludgy, dissonant metallic hardcore. Ever since Neurosis turned their hardcore roots to post metal and Converge released Jane Doe almost 15 years ago, there has been a distinct and creative strain existing within the overall banner of ‘metalcore’. Whilst the more obvious bands play ostensibly (and arguably) metal music in the vein of Gothenburg riffing supplemented with hardcore breakdowns and some vocal traits, the other school of thought usually has a more overall hardcore sound, shape and look, injecting metal in the form of brutal, dissonant and thick riffs reclaimed from the metallic domain of sludge metal.

After darkly ambient primer Spectral Gold sets the tone, Thorn in the Lion’s Paw drones away with a singular dissonant guitar chord against a minimalist piano backdrop, until the rest of the band come crashing in behind it. What I’ve always loved about music from the hardcore side of the great genre divide is that the best of the music never loses the edge you would expect from seeing it live in a cramped basement club with 20-30 people. Nothing sounds polished, everything is apathetic to conventional structure, but the music remains tight and punchy enough to headbang furiously with one hand on the foldback, dodging the head of the guitars as they whip around the stage.

Hollow King will heave you thrashing about against the rhythmic syncopation and droning feedback until the last frantic seconds of the song, until Blight’s End Angel cranks in with a seemingly lost, unattached guitar distortion, practically yearning for the song proper to start. And when it does at 2:30, you’re all the more inviting for the grooving rhythm of the tom drums. However the song doesn’t immediately lives up to its early promise; instead opting for a mid-pace chug throughout the first half of its runtime, fulfilling hopes with a thrashing Every Time I Die-esque ending to the track.

It’s around this point in the album that the long runtimes of the individual songs began to weigh on the overall experience of the album. Whilst no individual moment is ever lacking, by midway through the eponymous track, I realized that I had no memory of the past six minutes of my life. And as much as I’d like to say it rocked my brain out of my ears, even when I regained attention I began to think that the music was really simply meandering for its own sake.

With the runtime of an hour, the album really needs more notable and memorable moments to hold onto, even if it means succumbing to (gulp) melodic or clean sections! But with the record being only 4 full tracks sandwiches between a (relatively) short opener and closer, there is really no excuse for this lack. The first 3 tracks would have made a breathtaking EP, and I must emphasize that despite the lower score the music is still enjoyable the way through. The score reflects that it is an above average record.



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