In the Summer of 2017, Sumac entered the studio with Japanese avant-garde legend Keiji Haino to record what they describe as “a series of unrehearsed, completely non-premeditated sessions”. The resulting collaboration is a wildly experimental and violent display of guitars, percussion and vocals that pushes at the boundaries of noise and metal. American Dollar Bill is not an easy listen by any stretch of the imagination, but it is an often thrilling and extraordinary one.

With Haino being a serial collaborator - especially with noise and metal acts like Merzbow, Boris and Sunn O)))’s Stephen O’Malley - it’s no surprise that the album feels like a natural melding of the two acts’ disparate styles. Sumac’s hypnotic, and expansive rhythms provide the perfect accompaniment to Haino’s improvisational approach, which embraces silence and tension as much as it does exhilarating noise. Over the album’s 3 compositions (two of which are slit into two parts) we see the group in a near constant cycle of build and release.

The album’s title track, which opens the album, best exemplifies this approach. The first nine minutes are an ever-increasing cavalcade of thunderous guitars and percussion, with Haino’s wild yells above all the noise. Then suddenly it takes a turn with Sumac scoring an atmospheric drone of feedback and rumbling drums under whispered growls and gulps from Haino. It’s almost a complete juxtaposition to the track’s opening, with an oppressive, almost horrific tone - Haino’s vocals lost and isolated from the instruments. The track threatens to explode once more with guitars and percussion forming new melodies out of the drone and then locking into a rising wail for the song’s final moments.

‘What Have I Done?’ is, by comparison, more relentless in its sound. Part 1 seems to open in the midst of a song with tremolo guitar and rolling percussion that sets the standard for the rest of the track. A second guitar plays a sporadic and free-form riff that occasionally syncs up with drum beats before itself joining the same wild blur of chords, each guitar impossible to tell apart. The track’s second part (which closes out the album) layers more effects onto the guitars and descends into waves of descending guitar riffs over a wall of feedback. ‘What Have I Done?’ feature no vocals, so it really relies on Nick Yacyshyn’s drums to provide a bodily, human presence as the guitars and bass create monumental noise-scapes.

‘I’m Over 137% A Love Junkie’ is expansive in a completely different way. Unlike ‘What Have I Done?’ the two parts of ‘Love Junkie’ sit side by side allowing the group to make the most of a combined track length of 26 minutes. Part 1 is a slow-burning and relatively quiet piece, with clean guitar riffs and bluesy, detuned chords over a steady, hypnotic rhythm section. It’s only when Haino’s pained vocals enter around halfway through that this frankly idyllic moment is shattered. Guitars grow more monstrous and distorted, the bass a deep growl drowning out the chords that continue to play throughout. The noise subsides once more, only to return in ferocious fashion at the start of part 2, which skews heavily towards the thick guttural metal sound that characterises Sumac’s albums.

‘Love Junkie’ part 2 is almost a mirror to part 1. Where the first track opens quietly and then erupts into noise halfway through, the second opens in noise before settling down around the mid point. the mid point of ‘Love Junkie’s second part has a far more ominous tone however, we have been here before and know that violent sound awaits us, the tension is in not knowing when it’ll return. As the guitar plays a meandering melody other instruments pop, crack and wail in the background begging to be freed again. This moment is the experience of American Dollar Bill in a nutshell. Less an album than an uninhibited exploration of the primal power of metal.