Inter Arma are the best band you’ve never heard. Debut Sundown snuck up on me and wrapped a tire iron around my head to snaffle third spot in my 2010 end of year list with its amalgam of black metal, sludge and NWOBHM.
Typically when I fall in love a record, any follow-up will struggle fill its shoes.
On their Relapse Records debut EP, Inter Arma do more than buck that trend, they torpedo that motherfucker out of the water.
Four-song Destroyer is such a step up that it leaves Sundown looking like the work of amateurs (it’s not, reread my first paragraph you numskull) in terms of songcraft and pure sound.
It feels like a real statement of intent. In the marked difference between the four songs, the EP feels like a showcase of the band’s talents ahead of their big leagues’ debut.
With its swirling euphoria and sky-bound riffs, opener Wailing Moon – a nine-and-a-half-minute plus epic – is the standout.
Crunchy propulsive riffing gets thing motoring in a very tasty manner before the song collapses in itself into to reveal a blackened maelstrom swirling beneath the surface.
Yet before you can catch your breath, the staggering song rights itself to gallop onwards, new grime streaking the guitars’ rippling sinew.
Tremolo-picked riffs seamlessly segue into sludgy psychedelia and back again via 70s guitar-god heroics.
The vocals are largely blackened but range from a croak and rasp to a righteously hoarse bellow.
This is fist-pumping stuff that stirs the blood, sure, but like early Baroness there’s aching melody amid the muscle. The climax of Wailing Moon is pure catharsis and ranks among my favourite musical moments this year.
A very short acoustic and FX-smeared filler track Darker Movements cleanses the palate but does little more than say, “Hey, we can do ‘nice’ too”.
Maybe that’s a little unfair. The interlude does set the stage for The Long Road Home, whose opening could have been an outtake from Dark Side of The Moon .
HEY! STOP! Come back!
Don’t be scared. Embrace the Floyd. Put your hand in its pants and have a rummage.
You never know, you might like it.
This meandering jam explores every crevice of a simple but affecting melody with ever-increasing intensity before unexpectedly pitching face first into the darkness of rasping vocals and tremolo-picked riffs that tear the writhing melody to shreds atop an altar of blasting drums.
Close-out track Destroyer is different again: ritualistic and foreboding.
The riffs drone like a great gong, whose slow-decaying vibrations are rent by disturbing screeches. Snatches of back-masked guitar add to the unease, while half-chanted, half-gurgled vocals complete the fearful atmosphere.
The drums slowly get more tribal until the song bursts into a sickly bloom, obliterating what’s left of your disheveled mind. It’s a powerful performance and utterly convincing.
This is one hell of an EP with great songcraft, a great sound and riffs falling out of its arsehole. A ripper of a bargain at $3.99 (or more if you fancy it, and you should) on Bandcamp.
I can’t stop listening to the damn thing. It’s one of my releases of the year.