Any thought that SUMAC’s collaboration with Japanese free-improvisation guitar hero Keiji Haino was a one-off are shattered; if the project of SUMAC was to dive fully into freedom, then “Attis’ Blade” is the freest they’ve ever been, without sacrificing the hoary, seismic heavy rumble Aaron Turner’s projects have had since the return of Old Man Gloom. The work with Haino seems to have tightened Brian Cook and Nick Yacyshyn’s relationship. The song feels largely driven by a substantially jazzier approach to post-Melvins, hardcore-influenced, hyperbolically heavy doom in Aaron Turner’s guitar, with the rhythm section being more responsive in a jazz improvisational sense rather than being purely foundational. This is the biggest lesson SUMAC seems to have learned, a lesson which guides the entirety of Love in Shadow, the record from which this track is pulled: how to be a more fluid band, perhaps the closest to the dynamic of a well-balanced jazz group that metal has ever come. It also cuts through a major anxiety of Turner; SUMAC, as shown in this song, is just as groundbreaking, heavy, cerebral and physical as Isis.
From Love In Shadow, out September 21 via Thrill Jockey.
Langdon Hickman is listening to progressive rock and death metal. He currently resides in Virginia with his partner and their two pets.