Inter Arma- Paradise Gallows (2016 Relapse Records)
Here it is, my personal most anticipated album of 2016, it is finally here. Before listening to this I wondered how in the world Inter Arma could follow up 2013’s Sky Burial and 2014’s The Cavern? In my opinion both of those releases are flawless and so incredibly unique in their nature. Inter Arma are a band that many struggle to put into a genre they have a little bit of black metal with some sludge, doom, death, stoner, and psychedelic elements all rolled into one package perfectly. So to answer the question of how does one follow up Sky Burial and The Cavern? Inter Arma answer that question quite simply with Paradise Gallows.
This album starts out delicately with acoustic guitars and lead guitar solos with the instrumental intro track “Nomini.” It’s a wonderful intro track that quickly changes pace by a quick T.J. Childers drum roll and the listener is introduced to some absolutely heavy riffs that live within the walls of “An Archer in the Emptiness”. This is one of Inter Arma’s heaviest songs to date. This is the type of stuff that dinosaurs would mosh to if they still walked the Earth. We are only two tracks into Paradise Gallows and one is already aware of the many sounds that Inter Arma create, from the night and day difference between “Nomini” and “An Archer in the Emptiness.” The trend continues with the absolute pummeling heaviness of “Transfiguration”, but this isn’t your run of the mill sludge metal song. It has this really weird riff that I cannot begin to describe with aggressive drums all through out (T.J. Childers is the man we’ll just state that now). In the background of this song you can actually hear Trombone, which completely shocked me and I loved it. The surprises of Paradise Gallows do not stop here though, we will have more on that later. The next song “Primordial Wound” starts out with a continuous droning riff where the doom metal sound of Inter Arma is shown. This is also when the versatility of Mike Paparo’s voice is shown with chanting, shouting and screeching all used in this one song. The one thing about this album that is different than previous Inter Arma releases is it is some how even more progressive and psychedelic. “The Summer Drones” features psychedelic riffs and groovy drumming with some suprising clean vocals used by Mike Paparo. Now the halfway point of the album starts with the second instrumental “Potomac” which is absolutely beautiful featuring piano and very impressive lead work. “Potomac” also features musical motifs from “Nomini” and goes into the title track “The Paradise Gallows” flawlessly. This is also the point of the album where I was already blown away and then what was left of me continues to be mesmerized by the brilliance of this album. “The Paradise Gallows” is one gorgeous song where Mike Paparo once again uses incredible clean vocals in the beginning and then builds up into the nasty stuff. When listening to this track you cannot help but feel the hopelessness of the person the song is about as they are laughing all the way to their grave. “Violent Constellation” starts out with groovy drum licks and then is accompanied by a very groovy sludge riff reminiscent of Brent Hinds. “Violent Constellations” is yet again another great song on a fantastic album. The last song though “Where the Earth Meets the Sky” is the perfect closer. Along with “Nomini” it allows for the perfect beautiful bookend to this. It completely caught me off guard with just how even more delicate Mike Paparo can make his voice. Before this I thought Mike was one of the best vocalist in metal right now, but now I know its true. His voice is very much like Inter Arma’s sound as a band, its capable of anything and everything and that is exactly what it achieves, as well as what the band achieves.
Inter Arma are a band that have mastered their sound. Paradise Gallows exceeded every expectation I had for it and features incredible song writing and musicianship by all involved. This is hands down one of the best albums of the year.
Give Paradise Gallows a listen here: https://interarma.bandcamp.com/album/paradise-gallows-2