It is hard to think of a better space, acoustically speaking, to have heard Sumac run through material from their latest, What One Becomes, than inner SE Portland’s Bunk Bar. The album, which comes out June 10th on Thrill Jockey Records, is crushing, visceral, raw.
It was an ideal venue for them, because the space is loud. Ridiculously loud. Fucking loud. I was standing stage-side to get some photos, with earplugs, and it sounded barely less than full volume. I can’t imagine the amount of possible auditory damage someone could have suffered by standing in that room without any kind of ear protection. Seriously. It was loud.
And awesome. Fans of HydraHead/ISIS type metal know that Aaron Turner basically can do no wrong when he decides to get heavy, and Sumac is some of the heaviest, most caustic stuff he has written. I personally was hoping for two songs in particular: my favorite off the new album, “Clutch of Oblivion,” and my favorite from the first album, “The Deal.” Luckily for me, they played them back to back, and the crowd was more than eager to sway and bump each other while being absolutely destroyed with riffage.
The two openers were of the same dark quality and temperament but with vastly different aesthetics. Show opener Caustic Touch was impressive. The solo project of Andrea from Vice Device, she steadily built sampled vocals and simplistic bass lines to an envelope of pulsing dark ambience that perfectly set the mood. Main support for the night was Jaye Jayle, whom a friend described as “dudes who obviously like metal but want to play more bluesy, Americana stuff.” That description worked for me, as the music was straightforward and sometimes a bit bluesy, but also dark and droney, occasionally reminding me of a more rock-oriented Earth, which is certainly a compliment.