Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Inter Arma – Paradise Gallows (2016) / 89%

The International Armada of Southern Post-Metal

After the impressive one-song extended play The Cavern released two years ago, Inter Arma doesn’t have anything to prove to anyone. They’re one of the best american metal bands of their generation and their third full length will only solidify their status as a genre bending and untamable epic beast.

The first noticeable aspects of an album are always the artwork and the title and there’s a clear newfound identity found in the cover art of Paradise Gallows. Compared to Sundown or Sky Burial, it’s full of colours and could almost fit an indie rock band but the scene illustrated is bleak and ultimately fits the sound of Inter Arma. Compared to its artistic rendition, this album is far from being a shipwreck. It’s probably more the large rocky island in the background which is known for leading ships to their demise. Just like the crew of a well-managed ship, the songs on Paradise Gallows are fairly diverse but they learned to work well together to maintain the deck and ride the sea like no one else.

While somewhat sunnier than Sky Burial and overall perhaps softer, it’s still pretty heavy at times. The big Southern melting pot is the basis of their identity. They mix this depressive but warm and dirty sludge sound with healthy doses of black/death metal recalling the elusive Bölzer full of cavernous vocals but they keep things mid-paced or hellishly slow. Songs like the nine minutes “Transfiguration” bring forth the gloomy atmosphere while never losing the focus on tight and riff based metal. I guess we could say that their approach seems all over the place, right?

Maybe... but wait, there’s more! The combination of the massive Neurosis-like riffs with hints of funeral doom/death works quite well. The integration of psychedelic elements also feels natural (listen to the droney but catchy “The Summer Drones”) and there’s a slight nautical aspect to their compositions. It feels like you’re on the Atlantic, near the state of Virginia while listening to the darkest Nick Cave albums but your buddy suddenly plays his Eyehategod mix-tape on his boombox.

“Potomac” (speaking of said nautical feel) is this gorgeous instrumental song full of clean proggy guitar leads and piano and it’s a soft interlude before we’re served two extended heavy numbers.They’re all over the place with their styles of riffing and melodies but they’re surprisingly able to have a clear and solid direction while battling the intense waves made by the aggressive kraken.

Mike Paparo’s presence is outstanding in its richness and diversity. From the harsh yet deep black metal growls to the Mastodon-esque rough delivery of “Violent Constellations”, he’s a gifted metal singer. He’s also great at other styles including the tragically romantic vocals neo-folk of acoustic closer “Where the Earth Meets the Sky” and this sort of entrancing quasi spoken word (check out “Primordial Wounds”).

The guitars of Dalton and Russell range from megalodonian to intricate and psychedelic. This album is long (71 minutes) but it’s always inventive and spectacular. Their weaving of calmness and bludgeoning intensity has reached its peak on Paradise Gallows and the evolution of their sound since their 2010 debut has been an enjoyable process to follow. This is a great album.

Inter Arma on Facebook
I can't wait to see them Saturday in Montréal.

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