Review Summary: SUMAC offers The Deal...Will you accept?
It would be unfair to say that the first album under the SUMAC name is entirely Aaron Turner’s brainchild; the individual parts are solely those of the musicians he brought along for the ride, Baptists drummer, Nick Yacyshyn and Russian Circle’s bassist, Brian Cook. Regardless, Turner, Yacyshyn, and Cook have offered The Deal and it’s up to you, listener, to decide if you wish to accept.
Yacyshyn, brings an intensity to the album that drives the oppressive tone to the listener’s chest and comes out the other side triumphant like a gladiator. His presence is most prominent in Hollow King, though in Blight’s End Angel particularly, Yacyshyn’s drums impose a cadence on Turner and Cook, which twists and turns relentlessly.
As for Cook, his bass pummels the air like a volcanic eruption, hiding behind Turner’s pained vocals and plodding guitar tones before exploding alongside Yacyshyn to the forefront. Cook provides a menace to The Deal to coerce the listener into buying what Turner is selling.
SUMAC provides a sort of middle ground for Aaron Turner’s mind and succeeds in blending the ideas he’s carried throughout his career. The album is six tracks, though the bookends Spectral Gold and The Radiance of Being are more of a prologue and epilogue respectively. In between are 45 minutes of what might be described as a mix between Turner’s other projects, Old Man Gloom and (now defunct) Isis, though The Deal is neither as dense as Old Man Gloom nor as melodic as Isis and the album suffers slightly because it never chooses a side.
Whether SUMAC’s album is a solid one-off or the beginning of something special to come is for listeners to ponder. In the interim, will you accept The Deal"