Virginia's Inter Arma is rapidly approaching a stratosphere occupied by very few names. The Richmond quintet is crafting a vast sound that reaches to the furthest expanses of what is understood to be Metal. The weight of their music has begun to rival that of Neurosis or Swans as they share a similar crushing force through which they deliver their music. The way Inter Arma fashions their sound has become unique to the band itself. Their music captures a Southern essence and over the past handful of years, their prowess for incorporating that into the music has become immediately recognizable. Contrasted walls of immense sound against captured negative spaces and interludes keep the listeners' interest piqued, as there is never a stale moment. Such was apparent on 2013's Sky Burial and subsequent The Cavern in 2014. It rings greatly more true as Inter Arma tinkers with perfection on their newest album, Paradise Gallows.
It has been mentioned before, but it is worth noting again that Inter Arma refuses to be pinned down by obscure microgenres or general genre classification. Their music is becoming transcendent, and it is apparent more than ever on their newest album, Paradise Gallows. Inter Arma works from an easel loaded full of many metallic colors and shades. Opening instrumental track, "Nomini", is a Southern Rock sunset that slowly dips into the black night of the Death Metal "An Archer in the Emptiness". The album's first single, "Transfiguration", serves as a robust, sonic bridge between prior works from the group (Sky Burial, The Cavern) and what occurs throughout the rest of Paradise Gallows. The slow burner, "Primordial Wound" is where some of the Neurosis and Swans comparisons begin to sneak in. It is a tense ten minutes of music highlighted by the wide open spaces of single, sustained guitar notes and drum/cymbal hits while vocalist, Mike Paparo, flexes his dynamic vocal range moving from hymnic chant to harsh bellows and ultimately to distorted screams.
The tension carries into "The Summer Drones", which echoes throughout the ear like it was performed on the edge of a cliff. The pressure subsides as the Southern Rock sun rises again for another instrumental track in "Potomac". This second moment of respite quickly becomes a showcase of guitarists Trey Dalton and Steven Russell's and bassist Joe Kerkes and their ability to create intricate layers of guitars against the interwoven piano section. Drummer, TJ Childers, uses the following two songs, the title track and "Violent Constellations", as his own musical playground. Over the course of 23 minutes, Childers rips through a various number of drumming techniques and tempos that steal the show for the album's two longest tracks. Paradise Gallows is wrapped up wonderfully with "Where the Sky Meets the Earth", a mellowed, acoustic track that carries the album out with the tide. It features clean, group vocals and a similar feel to former tracks, "Nomini" and "Potomac".
While it emanates many hues of the Heavy Metal spectrum, it should be known as just such. This is not just what Post or Sludge or any subgenre of Metal should be, this is what all of Heavy Metal should strive to be. A diverse, holistic album that radiates with vibrancy and ferocity from beginning to end. Every song is orchestrated in such a powerful and precise manner, that these pieces make an absolutely satisfying whole. Inter Arma have crafted a truly captivating album that fans of any kind of Rock or Metal can love and appreciate. Paradise Gallows is a marvelous plumage of musicianship, intelligence, and creativity that rivals anything that has been released this decade. It stands to be the Richmond group's opus until they decide to top themselves again.