August 22, 2016 Inter Arma – Paradise Gallows (Album Review)
How far can music take a listener on an atmospheric journey without a hint of duplication? It is no secret that Metal consists with an immense amount of sub-genre branches. However, Richmond, Virginia’s Inter Arma discovered a technique to incorporate a handful of styles into one album. It is easier to consider this particular act in the Experimental Metal category where their music ranges from Punk Rock to Black Metal and practically everything in between. One would wonder if that is even possible to place numerous sub-genres into one full-length album. However, with Inter Arma, anything is possible, especially with latest masterpiece, their second full-length album via Relapse Records, Paradise Gallows.
Growing fast over the last ten years, these Well-respected, admired members of the Metal Community consist of T.J Childers (drums), Steven Russell (guitar), Trey Dalton (guitar), Mike Paparo (vocals), along with Joe Kerkes (bass). Many would look to their 2010 debut album, Sundown, that kicked off their diversified sound that included elements of Sludge Metal, Doom Metal, Death Metal, Black Metal, Avant Garde, and Punk Rock. Released on July 8, 2016, Paradise Gallows, the initial follow-up from 2014’s one 45 minute song EP, The Cavern, their experimental efforts continue with this long seventy-one-minute album. Complemented by artwork designed by Relapse in-house artist Orion Landau, it displays a ship sinking into horrendous waters as the sky is lit with pastel colors from above.
The album opens up with a soft interlude in “Nomini,” which holds a Progressive introduction and continues to flow with a harmonious and emotive-esque journey. It is an instrumental piece that each segment remains engaging as it is well refined and distinctively detailed. Transcending next to a darker and haunting realm, “An Archer in the Emptiness” enters as the drums chime in with a stirring pounce. There is a moment of silence as the instrumentals return along with grunting, hellish vocals. This is where Melodic Death meets Black Metal as the darkness continues to unravel with a constant melody, however, differentiated techniques. As the song is halfway through, distorted elements enter as a horrific guitar riff explodes with an emotion of feeling trapped or stuck in one’s own mental prison. Towards the end of the song, the pace picks up into an aggressive frenzy as it remains an engaging tune.
As the album continues to heat up, “Transfiguration” rolls in on a powerful melodic note as the drums rumble in, along with the bass, as a distorted guitar riff slowly enters. After the vocals begin, the song shifts towards a terrifying demonic level as the vocals scream along with furious riffs. Adding intrigue, as the song progresses, the demonical sound turns into a hypnotic Doom Metal melody. These two moods switch throughout the song where the listener would get lost in its Doom/Melodic blackened tones. There are a few simple rhythms; however, it remains chaotically destructive as well.
Sneaking in next with a slow distorted introduction, “Primordial Wound” continues to accelerate, however, remaining a mystery as the listener would not know what direction is next. Once the vocals enter, it moves towards a ritualistic, blackened sound as it continues to move eerily. It is a powerfully possessive track that runs with muffled sounds and a lengthy guitar riff throughout the instrumental changes. Continuing on, “The Summer Drones” comes in holding a Doom and Blues-esque sound with relaxing riffs, a stronger bass, and a light tap on the drums. One of the most mellow tracks of the album thus far, the pace surprisingly changes with chaotic distortions until its merciless conclusion. This is when the album hits an intermission mark with “Potomac,” as it has a similar melody as the opening song “Nomini.” However, this time, it slows down to an ambient, serene flow, giving a break from the chaos as it moves with Progressive riffs.
Moving on, title track “The Paradise Gallows” opens up with a lengthy panic-induced instrumental as it morphs into a Progressive pattern. Despite the vocals, the pace remains slow and mysterious until it reaches a unique dramatic shift that will induce spine-shivers to the listener. The song captivates even further as it fluctuates between two rhythmic emotions; a lengthy guitar solo and the melody moving as though one may find answers to pieces of a missing puzzle. An ultimate climax to the record, it is followed with the explosive, aggressive instrumental entitled “Violent Constellations.” It remains coarse and merciless as there seems to be no room for a Progressive light, and it is the most extreme piece of the entire album. This leads to Paradise Gallows conclusion with “Where the Earth Meets The Sky.” A slow acoustic song with clean vocals, it is a beautiful way to wrap up an album filled with darkness.
Inter Arma’s Paradise Gallows is a lengthy mind-blowing album that captures a Progressive-like journey into an abyss of Extreme and Experimental music. There are numerous layers in this album where it is essentially a requirement to listen to more than once to pick up on its brilliance. CrypticRock gives Paradise Gallows a 4.5 out of 5 stars.