Friday, 24 August 2012

Inter Arma - Destroyer

Inter Arma's Sundown was a ton of fun to listen to. The band's thick soup of sludge, death and black metal oozed crustily out of the speakers with a kind of doesn't-know-its-own-strength looseness that made you want to stumble around and bang your disassociated head out of time to the massive, lumbering riffs. The way the instruments dragged each other laboriously through the songs - trawling through muddy dirges before scraping sluggishly through an overweight blackened thrash assault - was wild.

In contrast, "The Calm Before the Shitstorm" from their split 7" with Battlemaster was, for the most part, a fast, tight, blazing sludgy hardcore epic.

With these two quite different releases in mind, I was very interested to see what direction Inter Arma's new 12", Destroyer (on Toxic Assets), would take. The first thing that strikes you is the production, in particular its clarity, which gives the music a very different feel. It doesn't necessarily detract from Inter Arma's heaviness, but it does smooth out some of the rough edges that made Sundown such a ripping good time. On the other hand, it has allowed them to play around with a much broader range of guitar tones and sounds than they did previously, the drums are much fuller, and they have made greater use of dynamics to make the songs move, rather than relying on jumping between disparate song parts.

Inter Arma have also drawn from different influences in writing Destroyer. Sundown did have a few reflective moments that let you regain your balance, but those elements are more focused and feature more prominently here. Most surprisingly, "Darker Movements" is a psychedelic slide-guitar freak-out and the intro to "The Long Road Home" is a Pink Floyd-esqe jam that slowly builds to a soaring guitar solo that brings you back to earth before completely shifing into its cavernous black metal inspired verses. The title track evokes thoughts of Tom G. Warrior barking over a buzzing Sleep riff, and it works a treat. But the song that seems most familiar here is "Wailing Moon", although it also reflects the direction in which Inter Arma seem to be headed. It packs a mighty punch that alternates between blasts of blackened violence and a deeper, more mid-paced pummeling. However, the slower parts now have less Brainoil or Noothgrush and more Bison BC or, dare I say it, Leviathan-era Mastodon.

Destroyer seems like a statement of intent from a band that has grown from its experience to this point. Its 4 songs are more polished and solidly written than their earlier stuff, but they also maintain an edge that makes Inter Arma stand out. I've read that their live shows are something to behold, and as they have recently signed with Relapse you'll no doubt hear more about these guys soon.

Look here, listen here.


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