The title Paradise Gallows is a very good one, suggesting that you are doomed, to a brutal old-fashioned death, but also that you long for execution. Perfect tone-setting for the bleak sounds of Inter Arma. The crushing extreme metal climaxes of this album are so inevitable that the band are in no hurry to get to them, circling quietly before releasing the furies. On Relapse.
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Ah yes, being epic. It’s fun. People like doing it. Artists like playing mountainous riffs, reviewers like saying “grandiose”, people like to post Facebook statuses about “face-melting” shows… it’s all here for the taking. If you listened to ‘The Cavern’, Inter Arma’s thirty minute, single-track treatise on most metals, then you’ll know they have a penchant for making a scene. That record is sorta the band’s version of Pig Destroyer’s ‘Natasha’, a contained, aesthetically divergent short story amidst a stream of more traditional releases -- ‘Paradise Gallows’ is a monolithic hour plus ten in length, and features all the band’s dynamics split and split into separate evil songs.
Inter Arma love to do the hybrid, and as such are constantly assembling bits from certain musical columns. The opener is piece of grand acoustic bardry worthy of Ulver’s folk phase, while the record also has its fair share of psychedelics, stonerisms and blackened blastbeats. The record swings to and fro like an RPG character walking from one setting into another, with the first ten minutes alone swirling out of chaotic riffs, stringently contained drumbeats and chugs worthy of a Morbid Angel or Meshuggah. The death growls? To boot.
Regardless of its mix-and-match style, ‘Paradise Gallows’ feels like one massive love letter to metal, an enduring force that exists through several different seats in a wider council. The chiming drums that sometimes appear amidst the rollicking fills sound earthy and descriptive, while the squeaky-toned riffs that the band return to sound silly, jubilant, as immediately recognisable as a song people would burst into at a football stadium. The psychedelically-echoed doom pace is a constant cleansing force, breaking down the record’s breakneck speed so you can launch into it again. The band even enter into a spoken word soliloquy, drenched in distortion but made to feel like a sermon from the very epicentre of existence.
It’s certainly big music. It’s huge music. I can’t lift it off me.
8/10 Greg B. 2nd February 2017
Inter Arma are a band that’s quite difficult to pin down, given that their music blends together a variety of genres, such as doom, sludge, black, death and post-metal, even in just one song. This year, with their 70-minute behemoth of an album ‘Paradise Gallows’, the five-piece from Richmond, Virginia staked their claim as one of the most exciting underground metal bands for the future, as they are one of the few bands today who can deliver such punishing excess, expansive musicality, and devastating beauty all at the same time.
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