» Blog Archive Review: Inter Arma's Paradise Gallows -

Paradise GallowsThere comes a point every year where an album is released and instantly the metal community (somehow) all agrees that it is, in fact, good. Normally, come December, this album gets thrown onto everyone’s Best Of lists, and we see websites and magazines give the band awards for such a crowning achievement. As such, this year it is Inter Arma who are falling into that category with Paradise Gallows, and immediately it’s realizable that this album is going to be a wild ride from start to finish, both critically and musically.

Inter Arma are something of prime example of what extreme metal can be in 2016: their page on Metal Archives labels them as “Blackened Sludge/Southern/Post-Metal,” and right away it’s obvious how all of those labels fall upon the band. Combining the best of each aspect of those genres, it’s hard to imagine being able to pinpoint exactly what Inter Arma is as a metal band. Thankfully, Paradise Gallows manages to deliver in the quality of the band’s previous release, Sky Burial, yet does not take that extra step needed to experiment and deviate from the path like its predecessor. In return, the songs are more direct and focused on singular ideas, leaving the album with a sense of fullness and with a satisfying payoff, allowing it to not be Sky Burial 2.0, which so many bands are quick to capitalize on after receiving recognition prior.

Inter Arma Within the album’s first ten minutes, the band sets up their sonic landscape right away: “Nomini” introduces the band’s melodic aspects, whereas “An Archer in the Emptiness” takes a more black metal-esque approach, contrasting the previous track entirely. While black metal is definitely an influence in the band’s sound, they prove to be not afraid to bend the rules and run between styles frequently. Case and point is the following track, “Transfiguration,” which sets the mood in an oddly melodic way, only to have the song introduce massive doom metal-like chords to drone out over the driving drums and syncopated guitar work. Around the three minute mark, the band launches into a fully blown black metal inspired section, almost acting as an organic jam session of sorts. This then sees the band  making a full circle and moving back into doom territory, returning to the original ideas that the song started out with.

Inter Arma liveThese songs are roller coasters and effective at generating their own identity as the album moves forward, but each of them come together to form a complete idea that is Paradise Gallows. Sitting at 70 minutes in length, albums this long have a tendency to drag on and wear out their welcome in the final stretch, but Paradise Gallows manages to avoid that in its closing tracks. The pacing for this album should be noted by bands wishing to do the same, as it allows the listener to feel like progress is being made and they’re not lost in a sonic vortex for the duration. The album’s intro previously mentioned and midway-interlude, “Potomac,” share a common musical melody, acting as a theme for the album and unifying everything, but it’s the arrangement of the tracks that help give this album a fresh pacing. Especially with the longer tracks being saved for the second half, the album feels like you’re near the end of an adventure upon arrival of “Where the Earth Meets the Sky.”.

Inter Arma live 2Perhaps the only aspect of Paradise Gallows that can be ridiculed is a matter of preference. While this new album is more cohesive and of a singular idea, it just falls short of what I enjoyed on Sky Burial, given that it was more experimental in the possibilities of Inter Arma’s sound. One could argue that Inter Arma have definitely found themselves musically and, while exploring aspects of doom metal, black metal, and other hellacious sounds, nothing quite stands out as much as “The Long Road Home.” Even still, moments like the penultimate and sinister “Violent Constellations” are fresh and unique unto themselves, especially when compared to bands that try to bend and mix genres quite like this but do so in a less effective way.

The one definite strength that Paradise Gallows does hold over the previous effort, and why it may be a longer-standing album, is that it gets better with each listen. This was something that I needed to discuss with other people to verify and it was agreed upon that the album becomes stronger instead of diminishing as flaws becoming apparent. That’s simply because there barely are any flaws to be found on this album, and in the coming months, it’s clear that we’ll begin to see Paradise Gallows on numerous end-of-year lists. That cannot be denied.

Inter Arma are making it difficult to write a review, as there is not much to criticize but so much to praise them for. The exploration of sound possibilities and the overall blending of genres seamlessly pushes this band forward in ways that many artists, even on the international level, cannot even comprehend. Repeated listens are rewarding and enjoyable, and while the experimentation is more emphasized on sound than in the songwriting and arrangement, Inter Arma are providing quality, top-tier metal that appeals to many different people across many different genres, Between sludgy doom and post-black metal black holes, Inter Arma are playing by their own rules and doing a fine job with it, too.

Paradise Gallows is available via Inter Arma’s Bandcamp right now.


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