Dust Moth’s daydream-inducing space doom, psychedelic power lure you away on debut ‘Scale’

Dust MothMost of what we cover here is adorned in decibolic heaviness, music that generally should terrify most of your neighbors if you were to play it out loud with the windows open on a wonderful, serene Sunday afternoon. I’ve never done that. But that doesn’t mean that music has to brutalize your hearing in order to make its impact and to have a healthy dose of weightiness.

Seattle’s Dust Moth is a perfect example of that and yet another band we’re covering this year that isn’t exactly metal but certainly can fit itself under the very ends of the umbrella. The band’s music isn’t raucous and brutal by any means. In fact, it often has the opposite effect, feeling atmospheric, psychedelic, and like something you’d want to ride on into the depth of outer space. But their buzzing haze is thick and tangible, while their mind-altering doom-gaze-pop can get inside your bloodstream and infect you upon impact. Given the power and magic behind their full-length debut “Scale,” if this band is given a chance, they should find themselves scraping in waves of followers intoxicated by the band’s sound and their own brand of heavy tidings. You don’t have to walk away with bruises in order to feel the jarring effects.

Dust Moth coverDust Moth, in just a matter of a few years, have carved out small body of work (they released an EP “Dragon Mouth” as a six-piece), but a large personality to go along with it. One of the band’s main powers is singer Irene Barber (XVIII Eyes), whose vocals soothe and soar, scorn and scar, making me think a lot about Nina Persson’s work fronting the Cardigans. It’s a nice counter to the band’s sound, comprised of Barber’s swirling keys, guitar work from Ryan Frederiksen (These Arms Are Snakes, Narrows), the thick bass of Steve Becker (Giza), and Justin Rodda’s (also of Giza) pointed drumming, all of which form to create a sparking cloud of sound that envelops you and carries you off.

The record opens with the fittingly named “Space Legs,” a track that immediately sinks you into the psychedelic waters. Barber gently navigates you through the verses, with her bursting open on the chorus, and the band leading you into mesmerizing sequences that end in a cosmic vibe. “Corrections” has some weirdness in the front, with guitars beginning to scrape and Barber taunting and floating. The chorus opens up, with Barber calling, “We’re glowing in the dark, showing all our scars,” and every time it returns, it etches its way further into your brain. “Night Wave” pulls back, with cleaner guitars and moody singing, sounding like something that will feel ideal on cool evenings in early Autumn. Another strong chorus, wooshing keys, and the guitars jabbing makes it take on a cool nighttime vibe that completely takes over. “Lift” is the longest track at 7:44, with burly, fuzzy riffs, Barber’s voice hovering, and a numbing chorus. “When I fell hard for you, I fell instead,” Barber admits, as mechanical guitars churn, and the music bleeds out in a heavy haze.

“A Veil in Between” begins amid a roomful of banter, with the song blending in slowly, and icy keys pelting like sleet. There are psyche gashes, countered by Barber’s soothing vocals, with her asking, “Do you love me?” in a place that feels unsettling. From there, the band engages in a long murky jam that stretches all the way to the end. “Up Into Blackness” has blippy keys, guitars engaging, and dream-state singing that provides a sense of haunting wonder that pulls against the tide. Proggy bass spills in, with the music catching fire, the rhythm section throbbing, and the cut melting away. “Shelf Life” has ominous keys, with guitars igniting, and the music hitting a mind-warping high. “I will always chase the sun with nothing to lose,” Barber strikes, with the music swirling around her. “The Shape of Clouds” is a quick instrumental with sounds droning and noise wafting, and that leads into closer “Essex” that opens up like a drizzle from the start. Guitars soak the ground, with a chill setting in right as Barber wonders, “How high can you go?” over the smearing chorus. The final moments of this trip are comprised of guitars agitating, the music bubbling to the surface, and the track heading out into ghostly mist.

I’m really excited Dust Moth swooped into my stratosphere, as their debut “Scale” is a really strong, alluring record that, clichéd as it may sound, gets better with every listen. This band brings a fresh perspective and approach to heavier music, and their buzzing dreamscapes are very rewarding and impossible to shake. I’m curious to hear how the band progresses from here and the black holes they drag us into and out of through whatever music they make next.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/dustmothband

To buy the album, go here: http://www.mylenesheath.com/pg/preorders

For more on the label, go here: http://www.mylenesheath.com/

Dark duo Wreck and Reference stab into personal darkness on ‘Indifferent Rivers Romance End’

Wreck and ReferenceLife is hard, man. Seriously, that sounds like I’m being flippant, but it is. You see the news all last week? How can that make you feel one hundred percent great about the future of humanity? It sure doesn’t instill hope in my body and bones, and that’s just dealing with things going on around us. Add personal issues into the mix, and it all can be a gigantic burden to assume.

Wreck and Reference, the California-based duo who always have dabbled in all sorts of darkness, apparently have been under a lot of pressure lately, if their excellent new record “Indifferent Rivers Romance End” is any indication. These 10 cuts, chock full of the band’s trademark electronic-based music, sinks itself into, as the band describes it, “ballads interrogating the endurance of purpose, love, and change against the backdrop of disillusionment draining into nihilism.” I hate to be lazy and copy text from bios, but I honestly could not think of a better way to sum up this record. It’s heart- and soul-crushing, a piece that will challenge and hurt you, maybe even in ways that make you feel more vulnerable. The record also forces the listener, as well as the creators, to face change not only for survival’s sake but to have some sort of control over one’s situation. It’s a deep thinker, but taking on this journey might make you feel stronger on the other end.

Wreck and Reference coverIt’s amazing to think it’s only been five years since Wreck and Reference formed. Its two members Ignat Frege and Felix Skinner first started imposing their macabre will on folks with their eye-opening EP “Black Cassette,” a recording that, while not metal necessarily, took on the same kind of violence and darkness as the heaviest of bands. They followed that with 2012’s “No Youth” that only amplified and further stretched out their visions, and they came back yet again in 2014 with “Want,” a record that indicated their foray into the void had only just begun. “Indifferent Rivers Romance End,” an interesting title to say out loud, expands their universe even further. The songs are richer sonically, the vocals are terrifying but also vulnerable, and their output seems to be coming more defined.

“Powders” tears you apart from the get go, with Skinner’s howls acting out two sides of a volatile break-up conversation gripping you hard. The singing is rap-like in parts, as each voice positions “what about?” questions to the other as the music pushes along. “What about that time we said we’d die hand in hand, and now it’s time? And you laughed and said it’s time to go?” The responding wails of “that’s fine!” don’t indicate acceptance, but psychological rage. “Fight But Not Metaphor” is murky and soupy, with wailed vocals, foggy ambiance, and weird talking that chills, bleeding out with a long sequence of blips. “Ascend” has more crazed shouts, with keys zapping in and out, the song halting and then crashing down as if over a cliff. Keys whir, and maniacal shouts then bleed out and into the shores of “The Clearing.” There, the singing is more understated but still impactful, while the song later passes over into a strange, detached section where synth simmers, and noises scrape away. “Liver” has quivering singing and soft keys, feeling damaged and bruised, and a gust of cold whips in and brings with it forceful screams and disorienting, panic-inducing echoes of sound.

“Modern Asylum” is darkly poppy on the surface, something that seems sort of danceable in a perverse way. Organs set in, and the vocals are more talky, while the song later cools under a bath of keys. Over top, the vocals keep their hold, forcing you to keep your head in the game. “Manifestos” buzzes from the gates, with the vocals again sounding more conversational than anything. But as the song goes on, the tension builds. The track then tears apart, with unhinged cries that border on tortured, and key plinks that add a surreal nature to it all. “Bullwhips” has warped yelps and a damaged melody, pushing out the darkness in spades, especially with the poke of, “Now that you don’t need me, can’t I rest?” The sentiment hits home hard, and it remains with you until the final moments bleed out. “Languish” also delivers massive screams, almost in rant form, while the keys and drums align and heat up the pace. “I sunk the blade into my shadow!” rocks you back and forth, with keys drizzling and the punishment harrowing. Closer “Unwant” has murky post-punk waves, shadowy singing, and misty synth. The music feels like a wilting storm, with noise stretching and sprawling, and the track fading into the distance, finally giving you a modicum of peace.

Wreck and Reference’s music won’t really comfort you or take you to a safe place, but it’s really not designed for those means. “Indifferent Rivers Romance End” is complex and perplexing, an emotional sojourn that pushes you to your emotional and intellectual limits. Are you able to withstand the fires and tyranny of life and crumbling relationships? Can you change your way in order to get stronger and avoid being consumed? This duo forces you to face that, so if you’re not ready for the pressure, you might not be able to endure “Indifferent Rivers Romance End.” Don’t come back until you are.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/wreckandreference

To buy the album, go here: http://nowflensing.com/

For more on the label, go here: http://theflenser.com/

PICK OF THE WEEK: Pestifere’s rage seeks to crush nature’s threats with furious ‘Hope Misery Death’

Pestifere coverOne would think humankind would have come much further than it has. Sure, we have a ton of technology we use to ignore everything and we can obliterate the planet in a moment’s notice, but you have to admit sense and passion aren’t even in the backseat. They’re in the trunk, suffocating, begging to be released from its confinement.

Along these lines is the way so many people regard the world in which we live and our natural habitat. Green areas are demolished for strip malls, fresh waters are threatened with poisoning for the good of industry, and we have no qualms choking out the environment for the benefit of making money. Hey, shit, we won’t be here when the consequences truly come back to haunt. And science? Proof of the destruction we’re meting out? Some people ignore that because, well, pick an excuse that makes no sense. Having more people stand up against the forces that threaten to wreck nature is needed in larger numbers, and now there’s another massive, mighty force joining the push. Minneapolis-based black/death metal crushers Pestifere aren’t afraid to have their voices heard and might felt when it comes to defending their surroundings. You can feel that in incredible precision on their second record “Hope Misery Death.” If the passion and anger packed into these eight songs don’t move you, perhaps your own heart is black inside, because this is a punishing, ravenous performance.

Having formed in 2012, Pestifere landed with their first record “Liminal” in 2014, an independently released record that was put out in limited number but certainly opened eyes and ears. For “Hope Misery Death,” the band attracted the attention of Eihwaz Recordings (out on CD and cassette), a place where they philosophically and metallically feel right at home. The entire run of this 38-minute record feels vital and in your face, and the band—guitarist/vocalist Lucas Scott (Australis, ex-Enshrined), guitarist/vocalist Aaron Lott (Chaos Frame, and also ex-Enshrined), bassist Dylan Haseltine (Suffering Hour), and drummer David Thames (ex-Bronson)—takes full advantage of their rage and fury to wage their battle for the best of the Earth.

“Don’t Let the Winter Take You” has a crushing open, charging forward heavily, with searing leads burning and harsh growls pounding into your chest. The band trudges hard, and after a dramatic stop/start sequence, strong melodies slip into acoustics, and a final assault smashes to the end. “Cormorant Tree” is an enthralling one, with the lead guitar work jabbing its way into the scene, and creaked growls quaking the Earth. The track heads into spacey/proggy territory, with the vocals turning into wails, soloing bubbling behind it, and guttural thrashing rising up and flattening everything in its way. “Peregrine’s Timbre” has a calculated open, trickling along before the storm opens up. The vocals are gruff and meaty, with stabbing, yet catchy guitar work, and later melodies that take on a nautical ambiance. The song gets moodier as it goes on, pulling over the cover of darkness before lightning strikes and the eruption slams forward and brings the cut to a devastating end. Then “Dispirit” slips in and allows a breather as its acoustics bring a sense of calm that feels rustic and atmospheric.

“Suffer the Day” finds riffs striking, the ground rumbling, and the band heading into a melodic stomp that unleashes a stampede of power. The blistering playing later heads into a post-metal haze, with the final moments crumbling to the ground. “Tomb of Monumental Decay” starts in the fog, with the band navigating its way through the murk. As they come out of the other side, the track bursts apart, with great leads lighting the way and harsh vocals unleashing the gravel. The track then ramps up harder, with the guitars shredding before the pace calms down. From there, a sense of warmth arrives before the guitars reignite and burn off. “Mine Is a Strange Prison” rides in on a strong riff, which then leads to gritty chugging and chunky pounding. The guitars churn and give off steam, with dual leads taking the track to its end. Closer “To Those Who Lost Their Home” wears its heart on its sleeve from the title alone, and it’s a quiet, solemn piece built on folkish acoustic guitars, elegant playing, and woodsy fog that strikes at the heart and soul. That helps remind you the victims of these stories are real, and the struggle is eternal until more people wake up.

Pestifere’s fires blaze brightly and righteously on “Hope Misery Death,” and anyone who stands in their way takes the chance of being ground up in the gears. Their black/death metal and thrash stew is a tasty one, filling you out and sticking to your bones. And the fact that they fight a noble battle against the true evil forces of this country and world should be enough to want to toss a few bucks their way to get your hands on this record and make sure they forge well into the future.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/pestiferemn

To buy the album, go here: https://thecollectivedistro.com/

For more on the label, go here: http://eihwazrecordings.com/

Neofolk dreamers Nebelung dig up early years by re-recording captivating debut ‘Mistelteinn’

There probably are a lot of things in your life you’d like to have a second shot at, right? Maybe a term paper in college? A short story that wasn’t so good? A marriage? Whatever the case, it’s pretty rare getting an opportunity to go back and right a wrong or at least iron out the creases.

As for German neofolk band Nebelung, they got a chance to go back and revisit material from their past and reintroduce it to the present. Their debut album “Mistelteinn” was released a little over a decade ago on Dresden-based label Eislicht, and it introduced this group to the world, albeit on a smaller scale, and led them on the path that would take them to 2008’s “Vigil” and 2014’s mesmerizing “Palingenesis,” a record we embraced with open arms on this site. But that first album still hung over them, as they felt the recording has technical deficiencies, so Nebelung dug back into their debut and re-recorded the piece. There are plenty of advantages to that idea. For one, the band—Stefan Otto (guitars, vocals, accordions, strings, chimes), Thomas List (steel string acoustic guitar), Katharina Hoffman (cell)—have a decade of playing under their belts, and their tighter bond makes for a stronger recording. Also, they have a larger following now that may never have heard the album, so this re-done, slight rearranged piece now brings that music back into people’s hearts and minds.

Nebelung_mistelteinn_LP.inddThe brief “–” begins the record with rich acoustics, setting a nearly autumnal feeling as it opens the doors and paves the way for “Heimsuchung,” which begins delicately enough and infuses the surroundings with atmosphere. Otto’s smooth singing (in German, of course, though the vinyl version also includes English lyrics) flows nicely through the song, injecting a dose of humanity into the track. Hoffmann’s cello is lovely and haunting, allowing for serenity to arrive, and then the song swims through a murky stream that’s thick and compelling. Strings call back again, with the track bleeding out slowly. “Abel und Kain” lets acoustic guitars swirl, with strings driving into the mix, and the folk flourishes feeling like something that would be welcome on a rainy afternoon. The tempo remains boisterous and woodsy, bringing the song to a rousing finish.

“Regen in der Dämmerung” has a solemn opening, with guitars picked lushly and Otto’s singing hitting higher notes. Much of the body of the track seems like it would have jibed with Medieval times while one roasts in the sun, sharpening blades, and enjoying the calm of nature. The title cut has quicker guitar picking, with the strings opening up into a heavy sigh, and elegant playing sprawling all over. The pace begins to ramp up as the song goes along, bouncing as if sitting in a row boat amid waves, with the cello scraping to the end point. Closer “Heimatlos” introduces a new element, with drums marching in gloriously, acoustic breezes arriving, and deep, understated singing pushing forth the messages. The strings shiver, the deep singing hits a croon, and the elements begin to swell before they burst and rush off into separate tributaries. This is a really breathtaking piece of work.

Nebelung’s chemistry has grown and matured over the years, and as neofolk sounds have spilled their way deeper into the black metal and doom worlds, there’s not a better time to revisit these songs found on the reworked “Mistelteinn.” The songs sound richer and fuller with life a decade later, and while the music didn’t necessarily need improvement from 2005, the revisitation is welcome nonetheless. Having this record back in public consciousness is a benefit to all who love this style, and hopefully it’ll whet more appetites for their next new music they create together.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/nebelungofficial

To buy the album, go here: http://templeoftorturous.com/shop/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.templeoftorturous.com/

Spreading darkness: Monolithe, Seedna bathe in murk but head in other areas on new records

Monolithe

Monolithe

We like to do some weird mixing here when we’re overwhelmed with music and need to fit it all in some sort of logical space. So today, we’re going to mash together two bands that, on the surface, don’t seem to have much to do with each other. Maybe once we’re done, you’ll still feel that way. But I’m going to do my best to prove their music does fit within the same space or die trying. Or fail trying.

Doom creators Monolithe and spacey black metal titans Seedna would seem an odd pairing on a package tour. But taken back to back, as I’ve done multiple times with them, their music fits into an umbrella of imposing doom and strange creations. From there, each deviates into a different terrain entirely, but I keep coming back to how struck I was when absorbing each of their new records back to back. Both push boundaries, both have their own stories to tell, and both seem ideal captured on a dark, dreary day, season be damned, when you’re in need of something that feeds the darkest regions within you. But you don’t necessarily want to wallow. You want to push past that chaos into something that exists above and beyond, a place you may only be able to visit in your mind.

Monolithe coverWe’ll start with Monolithe and their new album “Zeta Reticuli.” If you’re familiar with the band, you know this is the second part of an adventure they started last year with “Epsilon Aurigae,” itself a landmark release for Monolithe as they deviated away from their epic, song-long records. “Zeta,” like “Epsilon,” is comprised of three tracks that all last exactly 15 minutes each. Their towering, smothering doom has opened up a great bit the past year, with more melody and atmosphere infused, and a more approachable ambiance created. It’s a nice change of pace for the band—Richard Loudin (vocals), Sylvain Bégot (guitars, keyboards, devices), Benoît Blin (guitars), Olivier Defives (bass), Thibault Faucher (drums)—as they reach into their future and determine which path they will take.

“Ecumenopolis” begins the record with noise floating into clean guitars, wrenching growls, and an eerie, gothic residue lingering. Synth spills into the piece as the tempo crushes in place, feeling like it’s pulling building walls down. Murk and fog enter as the guitars jolt hard, and the vocals wail away, conveying gut-wrenching feelings. Sorrowful soloing arrives as a storm cloud settles on the horizon, and that coverage pulls all the way to the end of the track, where the fury bleeds away. “TMA-1” (“Epsilon” included the cut “TMA-0”) largely is an instrumental piece that takes its name after the Tycho monolith from “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Fitting, eh? The song features a guest solo by Jari Lindholm (Enshine), and it feels like a proper homage to the source material. The song is misty and mysterious, with gloom and doom caked into the thing, warbled voices to chill your flesh, and later dialog from the film laced into the mix. Guitars start to change the mood, glimmering brightly before bringing the piece to a chugging finish. Closer “The Barren Depths” starts with blips before the thing is sliced open and the heaviness emerges. Guest singing from Guyom Pavesi (Devianz, the Copperfields) adds even more depth, as proggy waters are navigated, the doom elements feel like early ’90s glory era, and the track finds sooty highs and lows to hit before it comes to a trudging end. I like where Monolithe are headed on “Zeta Reticuli,” as well as its predecessor, and only exciting things surely are on their horizon.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/monolithedoom

To buy the album, go here: http://www.debemur-morti.com/en/12-eshop

For more on the label, go here: https://www.facebook.com/monolithedoom

Seedna

Seedna

Swedish black metal band Seedna, much like Monolithe in their sub-genre, stretch what’s possible from this kind of sound. Their third record “Forlorn” is one that’ll grab you right away. There’s so much going on with this record, such rich sounds that obliterate what you know as black metal, that you can’t help but pay maximum attention. There is heaviness and savagery for sure, but there also are helpings of weirdness, alien-style transmissions, and other shades one does not ordinarily expect from this area. It might make you feel strange. Having only formed a few years ago (2012 to be exact), the band already has three full-length offerings to their name (2013 debut “Tindalos” and 2015 follow-up “Sulphur” preceded their latest foray), all of which provide eye-opening experiences into this territory of music. Perhaps their fresh perspective comes from its members—Olle (vocals, ritual instruments), Gabriel and Max (guitars), Erik (bass), Johan (drums)—coming not just from metal bands but also from punk and noise projects before melding their powers here. Whatever it is, they sure hit a nerve over and over on these seven mysterious tracks.

Seedna cover“Hourglass” is an instrumental opening, a brief introduction to Seedna’s world complete with ghostly dialog noting passage of time from “seconds to minutes turning into years,” and that fades out and heads toward mammoth 22:20-long “Wander.” The thing begins slow and dreary, but before long, we’re full bore into devastating howls and a slowly measured tempo that does its bruising over time. Whisper-filled growls tremble, as a long, mesmerizing stretch of gaze-inducing playing slowly trickles out and trips your mind. Suddenly, a furious bursts destroys any sense of serenity, as wrenching screams leave welts, and a pained aura sets in. The track suddenly goes silent, only to come out of the other side with sorrow-ridden guitars and gruff growls that drag you to the finish line. “Passage” is an interlude built on clean guitars and whispered dialog, and then it’s into “Frozen,” where the punishment is issued right away. “I want to scream, I want to escape, but legs won’t follow,” Olle cries with desperation, with the final moments going cold almost as if his soul has given out. “Eternal” has acoustic strums, with an echoey atmosphere, guitars gushing all over, and more hushed vocals. Later, the guitars drone heavily before ramping back up and flowing right into 11:29-long “Abyssus.” There, the doom is inescapable, with penetrating shrieks, a bone-melting pace, and wails of, “We are born to die, and that keeps us from living.” Doom smudge takes the back end of the song and leaves you an oil spot on the ground. Instrumental closer “O” lets you take back your breath, surrounding you in eerie guitars and solemn melodies. “Forlorn” is more black metal than doom, but one wouldn’t look out of place in a black mourning robe, wondering just where you’ll find the next day’s motivation.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/Seednaband

To buy the album, go here: http://tometal.com/store/

For more on the label, go here: http://tometal.com/

These two bands, while foreign from each other on the surface, are doing their part to stretch their respective sub-genres and increase what’s possible from those sounds. The fact they could be conjoined in a black tar puddle goes without saying, and the more I think of these two bands, the more I wonder what ever would happen if they found themselves bound together in the same creative space. Minds would melt, brains would explode, and metal might find itself on an even higher plane yet.

PICK OF THE WEEK: Inter Arma’s amalgamation of styles helps make ‘Paradise Gallows’ a killer

DSC_4114We have a lot of metal bands. I think that’s statement on which we all can agree. Because of that, the really special ones seem spread out even further than normal, with you having to search long and hard to find the ones whose career trajectories are worth attaching yourself to for the duration of their journey.

Virginia’s Inter Arma happen to be one of those bands. They’re virtually indescribable (doom black death with some Americana?) to the point where the only way to get your point across about their music is to just put some on and let uninitiated ears soak it in and try to process. Over the course of a couple of LPs (their 2010 debut “Sundown” and 2013’s stunning “Sky Burial”), EPs, and other smaller releases, the band has been growing its reach and sound organically and frighteningly. As many new twists and turns as they take on, they never lose their savagery, and that’s abundantly clear on their incredible third record “Paradise Gallows.” This is album-of-the-year material, one of those much anticipated follow-up releases that destroys the living shit out of hopes and expectations. It’s loud, punchy, really weird, bursting with life and death, and easily their best record to date.

GD30OB2-N.cdrArmed with nearly 71 minutes of material draped over nine songs, Inter Arma continue to reach into the sky for their ceiling. They still likely haven’t found it, which is terrifying. For all the atmospherics and out-there sounds they smoosh into these songs, this band also is at their scariest and heaviest. There is a meatier death metal influence on this record, something that reveals itself to you early on, and as this opus goes on, new doors open, and the color of the skies change, not unlike the shades you see on the album art. Inter Arma—Mike Paparo (vocals), T.J. Childers (drums, guitars, acoustics, lap steel, keyboards, etc.), Trey Dalton (guitars, keyboards, vocals), Joe Kerkes (bass), and Steven Russel (guitars)—are nearing where bands such as Metallica and Maiden were in the ’80s—rare ground where they’re carving their own sound and making metal that matters as much as anything else out there.

“Nomini” is a quick opener, almost a tease (or so it seems before navigating the rest of the record), that has tastefully layered twin guitars playing a melody that could warm your heart. But it suddenly drains out, and pummeling “An Archer in the Emptiness” rises up with hammering playing, death-style vocals from Paparo, and a pace that trucks hard through the body of the song, bashing and mauling along the way. Filthy trudging is up later, as the track really breaks apart, the playing devastates, and lurching vocals sound pained and urgent. Soloing erupts toward the end, reminding of Florida swamp death metal at its finest, before it echoes out at the end. “Transfiguration” has guitars cutting in (its primary riff is utterly infectious) and swollen shouts, with the vocals later getting more guttural. Doomy winds then arrive, bringing with it added darkness. Shrieks belt you, while muddy chaos bubbles to the surface, and the main riff returns to bash all the way to its finish. “Primordial Wound” is particularly interesting as the whole 10-minute song follows the same slow-driving, chugging riffs that stretches through the whole piece. The vocals are warbled and strange at times, with the pace staying impossibly heavy and the paint-peeling shrieks falling later on. All the while, the tempo remains, drubbing away all the way to its final seconds and bleeding into “The Summer Drones.” There, the bass plods as Paparo takes on a more deranged Jim Morrison vibe, speaking and crooning while a psychedelic vibe makes its presence felt. The title is wailed over and over during the chorus, with sounds picking up steam, the dizziness taking hold, and this really strange but ultimately satisfying cut coming to the finish line.

Remember when we talked about the premature ending to “Nomini”? Well, it was a joke on us as those same melodies fade back in and build the front end of instrumental “Potomac,” a track that flows along that path until it halts and piano drips in. From there, the elements slowly are added to the mix, with the guitar melodies folding back in, the pace stretching, and everything coming to a glorious end. The title track follows, with guitars bouncing off the walls and a massive psyche edge pushing in. The bottom then drops out, as the howled vocals strike and push toward the chorus, a slow-slithering approach keeps things brutal and forceful, and the soloing glimmers, ripping into the stratosphere. “Laughing all the way to my grave,” Paparo first wails and then calls, as blistering drums apply the finishing touches. “Violent Constellations” lives up to its name, with drums rupturing, guitars jolting, and the cut splitting out of its seams. The band thrashes in a calculated manner, bringing down the sledgehammer as Paparo rhythmically shouts along, “We will/tear them/from their/strongholds!” The back end gets thunderous but then proggy, with the music getting fuzzy, the vocals taking on a nastiness, and everything coming to an abrupt end. Closer “Where the Earth Meets the Sky” ends the record on a surprising note, with synth mixing with lonely acoustics, as Paparo sings with a vulnerability, noting, “She’s been set free.” Vocal harmonies blend together, and the song hits a solemnity that stretches until the sun sets on the record.

Inter Arma’s “Paradise Gallows” is a major marker in metal in 2016, a new record from one of the genre’s most vital acts that stands as a pillar on which everything can rest. This is a stunning display of force, an album that you’ll want to fold yourself into for hours at a time and explore every crease. It’s not every day, or even every month, we get a release of this magnitude, and our appreciation of such a record never could be measured. This record is that powerful.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/INTERARMA/

To buy the album, go here: http://store.relapse.com/

For more on the label, go here: https://www.facebook.com/RelapseRecords