The title track of Sumac’s latest album, 2020’s May You Be Held (Thrill Jockey), is a tough-love affirmation built for trying times, when soothing sounds just don’t cut it anymore and you need self-care that’s more like the cathartic group therapy you might find in a Klingon gladiatorial arena. The postmetal power trio use punky, chopped-off riffs to kick off a blood-spattered journey through light and shadow. The dynamics shift dramatically as they fight their way through a tightly controlled conflagration that feels like it’s about to burst into a supernova for a good chunk of its nearly 20-minute running time; meanwhile front man Aaron Turner (formerly of postmetal cult legends Isis, currently of Mammiffer, Old Man Gloom, and other projects) gazes unflinchingly into an apocalyptic horrorscape that has not yet come to pass. The song culminates in the sort of prayer that can ring hollow when it doesn’t feel earned but raises goose bumps when it does: “May your limbs move through gleaming waves / Your body rest upon the earth to embrace, part, return.” Along with Turner, the band includes bassist Brian Cook (Russian Circles, These Arms Are Snakes) and drummer Nick Yacyshyn (Baptists). Sumac have also collaborated with fellow heavyweights, including Japanese psych master Keiji Haino, with whom they’ve released 2018’s American Dollar Bill—Keep Facing Sideways, You’re Too Hideous to Look at Face On and 2019’s Even for Just the Briefest Moment Keep Charging This “Expiation” Plug in to Making It Slightly Better. This month they announced a third record with Haino, Into This Juvenile Apocalypse our Golden Blood to Pour let us Never, which they’ll release in October via Thrill Jockey.
Montreal-based avant-garde metal trio Big|Brave released their fifth album, Vital (Southern Lord), last year; it’s heavy and wild and meticulously constructed. Their sound is focused but variegated, and front woman Robin Wattie is a commanding presence throughout—she’s alight with righteous rage and adept with soulful, folky melody. There’s a time to be loud and a time to be quiet, and Big|Brave command those extremes and all the space in between. This magnificent bill is rounded out by Bhutan-born, Asheville-based guitar improviser Tashi Dorji (who’s also collaborated with Aaron Turner). Come prepared for a show that will require and reward your full attention.
Sumac, Big|Brave, Tashi Dorji Sumac headlines; Big|Brave and Tashi Dorji open. Mon 8/8, 8 PM, Lincoln Hall, 2424 N. Lincoln, $20, $18 in advance, 18+