SUMAC
Love In Shadow


3.6
great

Review

by Xenophanes STAFF
September 25th, 2018 | 34 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: For all of its many faults, this is the closest Aaron Turner has come to realizing his art-house-post-metal vision.

As dissimilar as they are, you cannot separate last year's collaboration with Keiji Haino from Sumac's new album, Love in Shadow. The Japanese noise-rock auteur has blurred the lines of what rock, metal, et. al for years which helped create the delirious American Dollar Bill, an album by all rights Sumac was incapable of crafting on their own. After this experience Sumac went back into the studio to make adjustments to their already written third album, adding in the improvisational elements that made American Dollar Bill such an audacious feat. Therefore Keiji Hano, in a way is credited with Sumac's most outlandish and impressive record to date.

In so many ways, Love in Shadow succeeds as the art-house post-metal album that Aaron Turner has been striving for since Isis' Wavering Radiant. In fact, most of the album sees Turner at his bravest, with areas completely devoid of his signature density and energy. For every moment of aggression there are two moments of ritualistic procession or an unassuming and airy interlude. Those that found Sumac's previous release, What One Becomes to be too unwieldy might find a lot to love in this amalgam of post-metal, ambient, and jam-band aesthetics. It feels more free, more emboldened, but unfortunately, less tenuous. Acerbic bouts of noise in "Attis' Blade," for example, butt up to a very sparse but regimented guitar line which feels about as natural as it sounds. Most notable to this reviewer was a moment in "The Task," which felt revelatory; a heightened and beautiful moment of complete restraint and nuance that felt so at odds with everything I have ever known about Aaron Turner. About halfway through the song suddenly stops. It slips into an incoherent, eerie, and spotty collection of guitar and reverb, feeling completely unlike the Sumac that just wouldn't let up on 2016's What One Becomes; occasional shouts speckle a sparse landscape that calls to mind the quieter moments of maudlin of the Well or even Talk Talk. It continues. Then it continues to continue, until the end feels more like a favor rather than a satisfying goodbye. This is the moment that defines Love in Shadow, an album of two parts: one part brilliance and the other, a dart board of ideas with darts haphazardly strewn on the ground.

It's difficult to say how Love in Shadow would have turned out were it not for Keiji Hano agreeing to collaborate with Sumac last year. The jarring elements do feel shoehorned, like edits made to an already polished draft. These edits don't always feel natural, as if Sumac were imitating a sound they wanted, rather than a sound they actually felt. Regardless, Love in Shadow is a startlingly unique addition to the band's catalog, and the most dynamic and interesting album that Aaron Turner has ever created. It's easy to see the multitude of cracks and smudges that besmirch this messy record. It's even easier, however, to just sit back and enjoy one of metal's weirdest and most fascinating releases of the year.



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user ratings (90)
Chart.
3.9
excellent
other reviews of this album
rafalafa (4.5)
Expressive, captivating, and exciting....

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The Deal

What One Becomes

Comments:Add a Comment 
Xenophanes
Staff Reviewer
September 25th 2018


1390 Comments

Album Rating: 3.6 | Sound Off

I started writing this three weeks ago because I have many differing feelings about it

Digging: Coheed and Cambria - Vaxis - Act I: The Unheavenly Creatures

deathschool
September 25th 2018


22667 Comments


Great review. I really loved What One Becomes. I'll probably listen to this right now, honestly.

(Also, I missed the Haino collab)

Digging: Tim Hecker - Konoyo

TheBarber
September 25th 2018


3737 Comments


Ecstasy of Unbecoming m/
Interesting take for the review also, although it reads a tad uncertain at times. To you, is this "their" record or is it not ?

Digging: Szun Waves - New Hymn to Freedom

Xenophanes
Staff Reviewer
September 25th 2018


1390 Comments

Album Rating: 3.6 | Sound Off

I am uncertain as to how I feel about it. I find it incredibly interesting and beautiful in so many unexpected ways, but I can’t deny that there are huge swaths of this album that just feel out of place or, to be frank, sound really boring.



It’s “their” album but they went back to the drawing board after completing it once they finished their collab with Keiji

robotmagician
September 25th 2018


907 Comments


I don’t know if it’s fair to say they went back to the drawing board. it has sounded like there were already going to be improv elements to the album, something they’ve hinted at with the past two albums, but their experience with keiji emboldened them/made them more confident in what they were doing. they didn’t rewrite the album

Napes
September 25th 2018


11 Comments


I got an advance copy of the LP at one of their shows and though I haven't given it enough listens yet, the performance was one of the most awesome things I've ever seen. A true master class on how to play weird, heavy and noisy metal music.

kevbogz
September 25th 2018


587 Comments


sounds like actual dogshit, but since it's Aaron Turner it's "art" and "improvisation"

brantron
September 25th 2018


33 Comments


Saw them play this in Nashville the other week! Mind-bending show

RogueNine
September 26th 2018


3650 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Agree with the review in many respects. Album has some loose ends that really need tying but woo buddy, Ecstasy of Unbecoming is fire.

trilogique21
September 26th 2018


2068 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"sounds like actual dogshit, but since it's Aaron Turner it's "art" and "improvisation""



lol

Digging: Horrendous - Idol

rafalafa
September 26th 2018


87 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

You seem to have enjoyed the middle section of “The Task” more than I did. It felt very out of place in a bad way to me, whereas the end with the organ felt perfect.

¯_(ツ)_/¯

CaptainDooRight
September 26th 2018


2569 Comments


will def listen soon

already on the playlist

Taxt
September 26th 2018


1197 Comments


I love this
Probably doesn't top What One Becomes for me, but that's a high bar to clear

CaptainDooRight
September 26th 2018


2569 Comments


Just listened, didn’t like it

Tw1ster
September 26th 2018


161 Comments


Enjoying this quite a bit on first listen. On a side note, Aaron Turner's vocals have always made me think of the bad guy from Inspector Gadget....."I'll get you next time Gadget!"


Dewinged
September 27th 2018


11309 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Going through this now and holy fuck it's dense.



"You seem to have enjoyed the middle section of “The Task” more than I did. It felt very out of place in a bad way to me, whereas the end with the organ felt perfect. "



Agree with this, it's cool to see them trying new stuff, but it sounds like some of those improvisational moments during a jam where everyone is effectively lost but the rythm section.



Great review as always Xeno.

Digging: Ancestors - Suspended in Reflections

froghawk
September 27th 2018


189 Comments


The aforementioned part of the task is easily my favorite part of the entire record and fits perfectly in that song. It's incredibly tense.

Flugmorph
September 28th 2018


19115 Comments


best album of the year

Hawks
September 28th 2018


60926 Comments


Ohhhh I gotta jam this.

Digging: Four Fists - 6666

PistolPete
October 1st 2018


4815 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I feel dumb for asking but what exactly is art-house-post-metal anyways?



I kinda feared Sumac would make an album like this after working with Keiji Haino. Not sure how I feel about it but "Arcing Silver" is pretty good.

Digging: Irreversible - Irreversible



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