SUMAC deliver stunning technical metal display at National Sawdust

National Sawdust doesn’t host a lot of heavy metal bands, but on Saturday local Brooklyn promoter AdHoc placed SUMAC in the unique performance space. The technical, sometimes perhaps improvisational, stylings of SUMAC actually worked spectacularly in the venue that most regularly hosts the likes of avant-garde, classical, and jazz.

Over the course of 1 hour, SUMAC only played four songs, which – to be fair – were made up of many different movements. The first and third song are from the trio’s upcoming album due out on September 21, starting with “Attis’ Blade”. The 15-minute epic journeys through free-jazz spazz-outs, head-banging sludge-metal riffs, and tribal drums, with Aaron Turner’s soulful growl bringing you back to earth amongst the experimental instrumentation. One of SUMAC’s most intriguing traits is their ability to create so much noise with just a single guitar/bass/drums player on stage. Turner’s employment of effects pedals certainly helps, and works well to create an atmosphere in the interludes before the more brutal guitar parts. To achieve this, a lot of unconventional stuff is happening on stage, like detuning guitars and even playing guitar with a drumstick.

At one point, I believe during the unreleased song “The Task”, the music broke down to just a drone, over which Turner delivered one of the most heartfelt vocal performances I’ve ever seen in the realm of heavy music. It truly made the hairs stick up on half the crowd, I swear.The 10-minute closer “Image of Control” properly capped the night. The track featured guest vocals from Alan Dubin (formerly of Khanate), who somehow took things up another notch with his tortured, high-pitch scream, a stark contrasts from Turner’s deeper, demonic growl.

All of this taking place in the beautiful confines of the experimental music hub of National Sawdust was quite the treat, and it was nice to see what it sounds like when it’s really turned up to 11 in that space. It looks like AdHoc is relatively committed to bringing a different style of programming to the room, with upcoming events with Low, Andy Shauf, and Matthew Dear on the books.

Check out National Sawdust’s program here.

Check out AdHoc’s program here.