I’m having a good year, and musically Inter Arma makes it all the better. 2016 has been full of highs for metal fans everywhere. Take what you will from the tumultous wave of releases, those who say this year’s music is any less than any other year is lying to you – there is no such thing as a bad metal year.
‘Paradise Gallows’ is an enriching experience from top to bottom. It’s no real surprise that the guys from Inter Arma could pull off an album of this sheer magnitude combining a genre pool so amicable it was basically begging for an amalgamation of this sort. Equal levels of doom, death, black, post and progressive sludge metal all intertwine into one of the year’s better compositional slabs of metal and with all this focus on how many genres can fit into the talent pool that is Inter Arma it’s no wonder just how easy most listeners’ will lose themselves within ‘Paradise Gallows” depths. Inter Arma’s 2016 effort has something for everyone and whether you’re into taking apart each and every influence in a band’s music before preaching the word “true”, chances are you’re missing the point completely. ‘Paradise Gallows’ is the result of meticulous soundscapes, developing a natural progression to where-ever the music takes them. Even after the sedate opener, “Nomini” the typical metal aesthetics of Inter Arma take over. ‘An Archer in the Emptiness’ is a sludge filled black n’ roll display of modern day music grandeur. Monolithic bellows pierce the air, coupled with some forward thinking, yet simple rhythm work. It’s a cacophony of sound… I welcome it.
‘Paradise Gallows’ is a big album. And as vague as that statement is there’s no real way to describe each elemental shift of sonic devastation throughout the album’s 71 minutes of run time. Littered with highlights, Inter Arma’s 2016 effort takes away the need to break each track into sub-sub genres. Rather, the listening experience is highlighted if you think as ‘Paradise Gallows’ as simply a “metal” album making full use of the umbrella term and defining what you hear under it. “Primordial Wound” is a perfect example of the band’s intent; with a ritualistic feel and a tendency to teeter with the tempo this ten-minute opus helps ‘Paradise Gallows’ stand as high as it does. Cavernous croon falling into the spoken word style permeate in the background before being consumed by anguished screams coupled with ringing chord patterns. Instrumentally the album is as great as you want it. There’s no verbose use of technicality, just simple song awareness articulated into brilliant songwriting. They may seem like they are the same thing but it’s Inter Arma’s ability to separate each feature, each component before bringing it back together in the best possible way.
Even the album’s title track takes things to a whole new level. A contrast to the rest of the record it’s one of the slower tracks to emerge here. If not for the marching percussion that builds the introduction, listeners’ could almost be swept away in the minimilist feel presented here and despite being the longest track on the album, there’s no dragging to be found here. The title track combines that minimalist feel with a subtle sense of melancholie, providing a sensual atmosphere throughout. The soloing here is some of the business’ best, the progressive blues pentatonic lives strong here, nibbling away at the Mastodon-like tendencies this band has before slipping back into the minor chord progressions that dominate the album as a whole.
Overall this is one the year’s better albums. Period. ‘Paradise Gallows’ may be long to sit through but there’s reward in patience. Think about how long it would’ve taken to record such an opus, all you have do is sit for a little over an hour and soak it all in.