By Kevin Stewart-Panko
It’s inevitable; the minute any band starts racking up sales totals, accumulates an audience and attains any amount of popularity beyond their small circle of been-there-since-the-beginning supporters, cries of “sellout” come quicker than a New Yorker screaming “Terrorism!” at the sight of a forgotten gym bag on the D-train. Relevant here are the fingers that have been pointed at Mastodon and Baroness for imagined crimes against the sensibility and sacredness of the scene. Hark! There is hope for those of you who take discomfort in the knowledge that Mastodon is signed to a major and Baroness has shown increased flashes of brilliance since The Red Album. Gather ‘round, ye of the underground, for here is a band of Richmond dudes who combine touches of all manner of metal, from doom and thrash to black and traditional to sludge and psychedelic, and do so with a gritty, dirt-under-the-working-man’s-fingernails sound lacking show and polish.
Indeed, Mastodon and Baroness immediately comes to mind as influences – specifically, the former’s Remission and the latter’s First and Second EPs – as this quintet temper sugary sludge with a strong sense of melody and broad strokes of guitar layers. The ascending, harmonized riff in the chorus of “2000 Years” is the sort of unadulterated awesome that’ll make your arm hair stand on end and have you pulling the air guitar out from under the bed while “Epicenter” answers the oft-asked question, “Just what would it sound like if 1349 hailed from Arkansas?” Then, there’s “The Reclamation” which is what Torche might sound like if they had never heard The Beach Boys and the concluding, emotional dirge that is the title track and sounds like Neurosis and Led Zeppelin being put through a meat grinder from which they fire off stunning volleys of southern rock lead guitar screaming.
Not only that, the cover drawing is a detailed slice of artistry that tussles with the sacred cows of religion, the environment, spirituality, native societies and death; the dust jacket feels like some sort of recycled cardboard and the whole thing screams “DIY or die!” The elitists will have to have fun with this while they can, because with an album this awesome, Inter Arma shouldn’t remain obscure for long.
(Forcefield / Mirror Universe)