Sumac is the latest project involving Aaron Turner, known best for his role as the singer/guitarist for the seminal post-metal band Isis. Another super group to add to his roster of growing projects, Sumac is made up of Turner, Brian Cook of Russian Circles and Nick Yacyshyn of Baptists. Sumac’s sound is huge, much like the post-metal giants that their members were involved in, it is led along by Yacyshyn’s rhythmic, pounding drumming. Turner still has his influence making up most of the bands DNA, with The Deal coming off sounding very similar to Old Man Gloom. Unfortunately this leads to the album having a bit of an identity crisis, despite containing some truly memorable moments and tracks.
Turner brings his chugging, huge riffs and his raspy screams, what is missing are the somber clean moments that permeate Isis and Old Man Gloom. This is not necessarily a bad thing, leaving The Deal to have a massive, monstrous sound, like a distillation of Old Man Gloom’s heaviest parts. ‘Thorn In the Lions Paw’ contains one of the most memorable and odd riffs to come so far out of anything Turner has done, followed with pounding, spastic and seemingly random drumming from Yacyshyn. It is not long before the method to their madness is made apparent, with repetition leading to understanding as songs structure starts to become clear to the listener.
Many tracks on The Deal bleed into each other, with their lengths exceeding ten minutes much of the time. One track can involve so many elements that it feels as if another has started, making the album feel more cohesive together. This LP is best taken in one sitting, rather than on a track by track basis, the opening and closing instrumentals providing the only obvious delineation from the norm. The songs are not remembered so much as the individual sections on each track , as their length and wealth of content can be overwhelming. Some parts can drone on for minutes, making The Deal an exhausting listen at points.
The Deal is an example of an album that demands listener participation, focus and time. It provides an experience as whole that is much stronger than its individual pieces, although the tracks themselves are not without merit. At points the LP can sound a little too much like Turners past projects, while lacking their variety and brevity. This can cause unwanted comparisons, with his other work being the stronger of the two. The Deal still provides a heavy, pounding piece of post-metal that would please any fan of its individual members and their previous contributions.