Inter Arma - Sky Burial
There are few more exciting and rewarding experiences than hearing a band realise their full potential. It is a joy to behold a group of musicians take that step forward from being a great band to being a fully fledged creative force, from exciting trailblazers to titans and whilst only time will tell just how high Virginia’s Inter Arma will climb, Sky Burial certainly sees them with all hands grasping the mountain side and all pulling in the same direction.
Sky Burial is Inter Arma’s first release for Relapse Records after a string of demos splits and EPs beginning in 2008 and each building upon the last with unwavering progression. Now, progression and progressiveness sit firmly planted at the centre of Inter Armas sound; extended track times, meter shifts, instrumental passages and swirling guitar riffs have always been present in their work but not until Sky Burial has their heady mix of doom, prog, sludge and blackened metal felt so well married and whilst simultaneous comparisons to Neurosis, Baroness and at times Pink Floyd are inevitable it would be unfair to describe what unfolds across Sky Burials nearly hour long run by way of other bands.
With so much going on on one album, the combination of melodically sublime and the viscerally sharp displayed on Sky Burial could easily come across as contrived, as pompous, as ‘over reaching’ but there is a wholly evident sense that each passage of each song has been created with the utmost care and placed precisely where it needs to be. The way in which pummeling album opener ‘The Survival Files’; a track laden with sludge riffs, blast beats and tortured voals waxes and wanes into the soaring double track ‘The Long Road Home’ is a prime example of a band having been given enough time and almost more importantly enough space to carefully map out such a hulking movement of music and flex it’s creative muscles.
It would be rude not to give guitarists Trey Dalton and Steve Russell a mention of their own as it is their evidently thorough understanding of how to both engage and transport the listener that really helps bring the album to life. Guitar fireworks are certainly not in short supply with the albums title track showcasing their highly developed twin guitar styles but it is ‘Sblood’, a song built entirely on dynamic variations of one single note - ONE - underpinned by a throbbing bed of ritualistic drums and shrieking vocals that really stands out and embodies Inter Arma’s ever forward way of thinking.
Intelligence is abundant throughout Sky Burial but never feels cold or calculated, moreso instinctive and it is this that serves best to create an almost ritualistic immersion in sound and a sense that this album was supposed to be made. It is, quite simply sublime. Sky Burial paints a portrait of band that has not so much matured as grown - physically grown into a living, breathing behemoth replete with multiple heads and arms, the power to breathe fire and the ability to utterly steal you away.