Much like the abstract nature of the album cover, Sumac never paints a traditional straightforward sonic picture. This is Aaron Turner. Dude is going to tinker. Dude is going to twiddle some knobs. Dude is going to explore around the sonic edges of his instrument. It feels like Sumac is simply an exploration of the abstract. Sometimes it’s maddening. Other times is results in something beautiful. In still others, you’ll find yourself in a bombastic shelling of some of the heaviest riffs you’ll stumble upon.
The experimental nature of Sumac makes each album a grab bag of sorts. Sure, Sumac has a sound, but it’s always unclear as to whether things are going to gel into a cohesive whole or not. May You Be Held might be the most coherent of Sumac’s releases. The album is bookended by a couple of instrumentals that showcase the aforementioned tinkering, but the meat of the album features three fairly caustic and cohesive tracks. There’s not a lot of time wishing the guys would just kick things into gear.
I guess ultimately I dig this one. It’s definitely an acquired taste and if you’re a fan of Turner’s other post-Isis work, you’ll probably dig it. If you’re the type of person that needs immediate gratification in your music or if you suffer from ADD, this one might try your patience a bit.
3.5 flip flops out of 5