Release Date: Mar 19, 2013
Record label: Relapse Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Heavy Metal, Post-Metal
On the second full-length from Richmond, VA's heavy psychedelic alchemists Inter Arma, danger and apocalypse always loom nearby, casting long shadows over everything within sight. In these eight songs, the destroyer becomes the vaunted creator. Humankind sends the earth into a vortex of despair and decay. End-times gloom represents a lone currency of hope.
Trying to categorize Richmond, VA’s Inter Arma into a neat and tidy genre for the purposes of giving the band a home would do the music of Sky Burial, the band’s second full-length, a total disservice. It would also prove to be nigh on impossible, as this quintet incorporates a multitude of musical influences which touch upon various sonic signifiers, including—but not limited to—doom, sludge, black metal, psychedelia, progressive metal and Americana, to create, what is ultimately, an expansive metal record. Sky Burial isn’t welcoming by any stretch of the imagination, as its cross-colonization of genres would suggest.
With a heaviness that leans more on melancholy than malice, Inter Arma deliver a genre-spanning metal experience with Sky Burial. Where most metal can easily fall under the "apocalyptic" description, the album here has a kind of lonely openness about it that feels more like the soundtrack to the cataclysmic aftermath than the event itself. Even during tracks like "'Sblood," where a stampede of percussion and harmonic feedback creates an almost suffocating oppressiveness, there's still enough atmosphere to create the feeling of the song being inescapable without that sense of claustrophobia one might normally find in black metal.
The moniker Inter Arma roughly translates to "war time" and is a part of the larger phrase inter arma enim silent leges, or "in times of war, the law falls silent. " Inter Arma make a concerted effort to challenge the unpredictable, easily corruptible periods of unchecked power that can result from martial law on their second full-length release, Sky Burial (the album title itself referring to the funereal practice of ritually feeding a body to carrion birds, effectively burying them in the sky). While the genre they operate within is often simplified to "blackened groove," Virginia-based Inter Arma incorporate elements of everything from psychedelia to doom, with vast, experimental song structures swirling and evolving, evoking Neurosis or Kylesa.