Review of the Album: INTER ARMA Brand-new Paradiso

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Inter Arma stand out in the discussions among genre aficionados… darkened, deathly, muddied… who really bothers? They perform weighty, creative music with as much unpredictability as it possesses classic riffs. This is exactly what characterized their 2019 record Sulfur English as a splendid fusion of sounds, whether it involves neofolk climaxes like “Stillness” or powerful blows like “Citadel.”

To get a glimpse of Inter Arma‘s varied interests, one can look no further than their cover EP Garbers Days Revisited, which ranges from Tom Petty and Prince to Ministry and Venom. It truly seems like this band is capable of exploring any avenue, as more or less exemplified in their latest release New Heaven. With Inter Arma delving into dissonant, abstract black metal, there comes some of their most melodious compositions up to this point.

The otherworldly textures and discordant riff transitions on the album create a genuinely eerie experience. The initial title track sets a perfect tone, with T.J. Childers‘ vigorous drumming propelling Trey Dalton and Steven Russell through a series of atonal disharmonies and spiraling cascades of notes. Even though Mike Paparo‘s vocals begin on a lower register, the atmosphere is much icier than anticipated after Sulfur English.

One aspect that persists from the band’s existing catalogue is their inclination for patience. Even amidst Childers‘ thundering on “Violet Seizures,” his urgency doesn’t hinder the guitars from absorbing into ethereal modulations or enchanting anti-melodies. The full introduction of Paparo‘s screaming side firmly establishes this album within the realms of experimental black metal.

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While many eccentric black metal aficionados tend to approach chords akin to how abstract artists approach their canvas, genuine skill and thoughtfulness are evident in compositions like “Desolation’s Harp.” Even without considering the lively guitar solos towards the conclusion, the abrasive clashes of notes leave ample space for emotive chord progressions amidst the percussive chaos.

These solos turn out to be a foreshadowing of the monumental doom interlude “Endless Grey,” which also serves as a progressive rock segment filled with melodious basslines from Joel Moore and weeping guitar motifs. You can label it as idolization of Pallbearer, but it also acts as a refreshing contrast to the stern turmoil that precedes it.

Any assumptions of this being a peculiar black metal album eventually fade as “Gardens in the Dark” and “The Children the Bombs Overlooked” steer the album into an enthralling blend of somber, ominous elements of goth, post-rock, and folk. Despite sharing captivating deep vocals, the shimmering drones and ethereal guitar melodies in the former track build up more gradually into a hypnotic lament of cinematic euphoria.

On the other hand, the latter track feels like a showcasing platform for Childers to unveil his astonishing drumming prowess. He keeps elevating the intensity, transitioning from an evolving tribal aura to an almost jazzy solo segment into the expected blast beats from fans. The guitars and vocals impeccably follow the escalating action, moving through perpetual moments from desolate despair to a torrent of melancholic blackness.

Attention to sound characteristics also helps maintain the allure of Inter Arma‘s stylistic transitions, as more melancholic tracks like “Concrete Cliffs” exhibit a notably warmer, robust drum tone supporting the hazier guitar timbres. In essence, the doom resonates like doom just as much as the black metal echoes like black metal. They are unafraid to alter the production standards to capture the essence of the desired music, from destructive intensity to the mellow alt-country vibes of the closing piece “Forest Service Road Blues.”

Such an intricate blend of piano, acoustic strumming, and guttural singing would effortlessly warrant an entire album in this genre. The plaintive string arrangements, vivid storytelling, and lush sonic landscapes surpass the experimentation of lesser groups. This doesn’t come off as a metal band trying to venture into country music; it presents itself as a collective of talented musicians composing what resonates with them.

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While the beginning might lead listeners to anticipate what Inter Arma has in store with New Heaven, the overall album experience is as varied as ever. This band simply cannot detach itself from creativity as it is ingrained in their musical foundations. This album may not appeal to genre purists, but rather to enthusiasts of unadulterated expression crafted by individuals with a profound grasp of multiple music genres.

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