There are few ideals that strike me as being as American as blending metal genres. Here Europe works so hard in defining and distinguishing characteristics, creating and reinforcing traditions, and then those ideas make it across the Atlantic and Americans go, “What if we put these things together?” and Europe, like the mustachioed police chief in a buddy cop comedy, gets all flustered and is like, “You can’t do that!” but the scrappy Americans — let’s say, played by a young, mulletted, less-creepy Mel Gibson — are already out the door and on tour with their blackened crust doom grind or some such improbable brew.
Put Richmond, Virginia-based five-piece Inter Arma in the Mel Gibson role and you might have a beginning point for understanding the kind of gleeful line-crossing that takes place on their Relapse Records label debut (second album overall), Sky Burial, a dynamic 67-minute melting pot that seems to want nothing so much as to turn preconceived stylistic notions on their head. This ethic isn’t dissimilar to that which typified Inter Arma‘s 2010 Forcefield Records full-length debut, Sundown (review here), just more cohesively the band’s own and more realized in terms of the overarching ambience. The 67 minutes, played out over eight tracks — four of which top 10 minutes long — are a resonant journey to undertake, and the echoes they leave ring even more massive than the guitar tones of Steven Russell and Trey Dalton.
The band — completed by drummer T.J. Childers (also The Might Could), bassist Joe Kerkes and vocalist Mike Paparo — would be hard-pressed to summarize the full breadth of Sky Burial in just one track, but the gradually unfolding intro to later cut “Westward” and the thudding, reverb laden post-metal oppression that ensues over the song’s 9:48 are as good a place to start as any. Elsewhere one might find black metal squibblies and blasts or doomed marching, but “Westward” accounts for a point on the record where Inter Arma seem most in their own element, Paparo‘s screams buried under a rising tide of vicious, insistently-rhythmic, somehow-psychedelic heft.
When the payoff hits, the effect is surprisingly cosmic, so check out “Westward” on the player here, and enjoy the commentary from Dalton and Paparo that follows. Inter Arma hit the road this weekend with Mutilation Rites, and those tour dates can also be found on the poster below:
Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!
Guitarist Trey Dalton on “Westward”
This is actually the last song we wrote before heading down to Nashville. If I remember correctly we finished the framework maybe a week before we left, if that. It all sort of came together while we were recording, though. With that being said, I’m the kind of dude who likes to write out a guitar solo well ahead of time. You know, craft it according to the needs of the song, but I wasn’t able to for this one. We had to rear back and shoot from the hip which put me out of my comfort zone. I’m pretty happy with how that part turned out, though. Surprised even. And because we wrote it so shortly before leaving Mike had no chance to do anything lyrically until we were there. TJ had this idea during the noisy bridge part that Mike should almost preach in a stream of consciousness kind of way. I love how that part came together. Given the songs relative infancy I think it turned out better than I initially thought it would.
Vocalist Mike Paparo on “Westward”
On our first U.S. tour in July of 2010 (with our brothers in blood Bastard Sapling) we were flying through the Mojave desert, 7 deep, in our dank van. The sun had gone down and it was still a solid 110+ degrees outside. All of the windows were down and it felt like a giant hair dryer was blowing in. The heat was getting to all of us. We passed through some particularly odd, desolate area blasting UFOmammut’s “Snailking” and the clouds started to come alive. Strange flashes of light started illuminating the night sky. Being that the Mojave is littered with military installations my mind started to wander. Was it heat lightning? Was it some sort of weapons testing? It was probably the former, but hey one can imagine. Too me, it was an almost psychedelic experience. When I first heard the opening of the song, it made me think back to this experience. I concocted a story around it. The imagery projected in the lyrics is a direct reference to this memory. As for the rest of the lyrical inspiration (i.e. most of the female narration)…well, that’s just going to have to remain a secret!
Inter Arma & Mutilation Rites on Tour
3/9 Cincy By The Slice – Cincinnati, OH
3/10 Cobra Lounge – Chicago, IL
3/11 Fubar – St Louis, MO
3/13-3/16 SXSW – Austin, TX
3/18 War Room – El Paso, TX
3/19 Chasers – Phoenix, AZ
3/20 Moustache Bar – Tijuana, Mexico
3/21 Slidebar – Fullerton, CA
3/22 Mayas – Corona, CA
3/23 Rock City – Camarillo, CA
3/24 DNA Lounge – San Francisco, CA
3/25 Colony – Sacramento, CA
3/26 Highline – Seattle, WA
3/27 The Shakedown – Bellingham, WA
3/28 Rotture – Portland, OR
3/29 The Shredder – Boise, ID
3/30 Burt’s Tiki Lounge – Salt Lake City, UT
3/31 Aqualungs – Denver, CO
4/01 Vaudeville Mews – Des Moines, IA
4/02 Medusa – Minneapolis, MN
4/03 High Noon – Madison, WI
4/04 Franks Power Plant – Milwaukee, WI