Friday 31 May 2019

TRACK PREMIERE: "Ghost Army" by Chicago quintet The Hÿss

The Hÿss, a Chicago quintet born out of a mutual love for staples like Black Sabbath, Fu Manchu and Clutch are set to release their new record entitled “Hound” on June 7th, 2019. Tracked mostly live in the studio, the sound of “Hound” is urgent, hard-hitting rock that's sure to satisfy stoner rock, punk and metal fans alike.

After a test run getting their bluesy, doomy grunge sound onto demo tape in August 2017, the band set about honing their live chops in and around their native Chicago. As a result, the songs on this five-track banger are tight and loose in all the right places, moving comfortably within the spacious realm they’ve forged.

Recorded and mixed by Pete Grossmann (High Priest, Something is Waiting) at Chicago's Bricktop Recording and mastered by Brad Boatright at Audiosiege (Sleep, YOB, Mutoid Man), each song on “Hound is a concise hit of rock n’ roll, updated and expanded.

There's plenty of variety to dig into on the album, and today you can check out the band for yourself, as we premiere the track “Ghost Army”, so turn it up, hit repeat and watch your speakers die.

Band info: facebook

Tuesday 28 May 2019

REVIEW: Body Void, "You Will Know the Fear You Forced Upon Us"

By: Eeli Helin

Album Type: EP
Date released: 15/03/19
Label: Dry Couch Records,
Crown and Throne Ltd,
Seeing Red Records

Every single note, stroke and gasp is just as essential as the one preceeding and following; You will be left speechless amidst them, in a lightless, sludgy vortex of noise, fearing for your life.

"You Will Know the Fear You Forced Upon Us" CD/DD/CS/LP track listing:

1. Die Off
2. Fascist Cancer

The Review:

The Californian noisy sludge/doom trio Body Void are back with an ep titled "You Will Know the Fear You Forced Upon Us", released less than a year apart from their second full-length. Through two tracks clocking just under fourty minutes, the ep adds a new kind of depth to Body Void's well established style that can be described as uncompromising, demanding uneasy listening.

"Die Off" starts with a relentless pounding meant to floor the listener instantly, inflicting a feeling reminiscent of having your spine collapsing, one vertebra at a time. After the build up, the song erupts into a well structured, filthy verse with Will Ryan's agonizing howls on top of everything, puncturing your eardrums in a way that is achieved only by few. Continuing in a slow and droning pace, the songs atmosphere evolves over time yet choking the listener constantly for well over fifteen minutes until an abrupt stop, followed by unexpected d-beats and groovier movement. Ultimately leading back to an anti-rhythmic conclusion, "Die Off" ends as it started, violently and devastatingly.

"Fascist Cancer" continues with more a structured and swifter rate, bringing in some important variation. Fluctuating between quicker bursts and dragging blows, "Fascist Cancer" bludgeons and buries whatever remains from what the first track left behind it. Being clearly more versatile than the previous one, this track goes on to show that unique sound doesn't require context. The song propels through the mentioned styles into a minimalistic, less distorted airy passage that again adds to the depth and textures of the bands overall sound. Again you find yourself in the middle of some unforeseeable transitions and cuts; Throwing the listener around is clearly one of the bands strong suits. Ending on a crusty note, this ep is a tense and powerful continuation for the bands two full-lengths, that won’t leave the listener cold by any measure. Or actually, leaving the listener cold is exactly what this band does, as they take away all the warmth and humane feelings one might have left somewhere in their ransacked and battered body.

Body Void is a prime example of a band working in perfect unison. Every single note, stroke and gasp is just as essential as the one preceeding and following; You will be left speechless amidst them, in a lightless, sludgy vortex of noise, fearing for your life.

"You Will Know the Fear You Forced Upon Us"  is available HERE

Band info: facebook || bandcamp

Friday 24 May 2019

EP PREMIERE: Mister Lizard deliver deranged & warped sophmore effort "II"

Self-described as “warped hardcore/powerviolence”, Mister Lizard's latest release, 'II', shows absolutely no signs of that changing. Abusively intense with tongue firmly planted in cheek, Mister Lizard pull no punches.

Following 2017's self-titled release – a record of conspiracy theories, shapeshifting and government cover ups - 'II' aims to maintain that ridiculousness, fulfilling a niche but growing cult following.

'II' was recorded, mixed and mastered by Wayne at Bear Bites Horse Studio (Casual Nun, Death Pedals) around summer last year. Cover artwork by Hjalti Ragnarsson from Godchilla.  If you’re a fan of:
Daughters, Agoraphobic Nosebleed, Discordance Axis, Dillinger Escape Plan, Magrudergrind, then this new EP is certain to scratch that itch and is certain to leave you broken, beaten and scarred.  "II" will be issued on cassette via Astral Noize Records on 29/5/2019.  Preorders are being taken HERE and can be streamed in full below.

Band info: facebook 

Wednesday 22 May 2019

REVIEW: Vader, "Thy Messenger" (EP)

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: EP
Date Released: 31/05/2019
Label: Nuclear Blast

This is a great EP and perfectly executed; clean, sharp, but it also has enough dirt and grit to satisfy the old school fans. A coup de grace.

“Thy Messenger” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1. Grand Deceiver
2. Litany
3. Emptiness
4. Despair
5. Steeler

The Review:

This five track EP is a welcome return from Poland's best death/thrash export. 2016's “The Empire” was the last studio offering from these veterans and as main-main Piotr stated, if the band went for releasing a full length album then it would not be ready until the end of the year, so instead they have put out this nasty little short sharp shock. Indeed, the EP is becoming a favoured format for some bands- it allows fans a solid taste of material without being overly lengthy and allows a band a reason to get out and tour or just give a reminder they are still around. In this modern digital age, attention spans are not what they were and grabbing a listener's attention is even harder than before.

From the opening blasting of “Grand Deceiver” to the closing cover of Judas Priest's “Steeler”, this is a band firing on all cylinders and ready to take on all comers. The riffs are all there as is the almost rock n roll feel present in Vader's best material- they have a kind of Motorhead vibe to their delivery- even if Vader are as precise as they come in delivery. The EP includes a re-working of their classic track “Litany” which of course benefits from the state of the art production and clarity of sound. Yes, it's clean and sharp, but it also has enough dirt and grit to satisfy the old school fans.

The more mid paced “Emptiness”, with its traded leads and rolling bass drums is almost akin to the Gothenburg sound, but it retains considerably more bite and swing than many of those bands. The one and a bit minutes of “Despair” is punk infused death/thrash and a reminder that straightforward riffage and carnage are Vader's forte. The aforementioned “Steeler” by Priest closes this impressive and focused EP. It will leave Vader's legions of fans satisfied that the band are forging ahead at full speed and still very much a going concern. This is a great EP and perfectly executed. A coup de grace.

“Thy Messenger” is available HERE

Band info: facebook

Monday 20 May 2019

ALBUM REVIEW: Death Angel, "Humancide"

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 31/05/2019
Label: Nuclear Blast

It's a solid and classy record, strong from front to back and with ten tracks of high quality material.

“Humanicide” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1. Humanicide
2. Divine Defector
3. Aggressor
4. I Came For Blood
5. Immortal Behated
6. Alive and Screaming
7. The Pack
8. Ghost of Me
9. Revelation Song
10. Of Rats and Men
11. The Day I Walked Away (Bonus Track)

The Review:

The Bay Area thrashers are back with this Jason Suecof produced rager. “Humanicide” follows in the tradition of the last two DA albums, but is perhaps a little closer in style to “Relentless Retribution” than “The Evil Divide” or “The Dream Calls For Blood”.

Certainly, the title track kicks off the record with thrash in full effect and “Divine Defector”, keeps up this high gear approach. In fact, “Aggressor” is still fairly full on with “I Came For Blood” being a Motorhead styled blast of punk/thrash.

However, “Immortal Behated” is closer to some of the band's less fleet of foot work and the rather plodding play time does it no favours. Death Angel would be excused for front loading their albums. They've been around since the second wave of thrash and even with Osegueda and Cavestany being the last original men standing, a drop in energy would be acceptable. Pleasingly, “Alive and Screaming” is another raging foot stomper with Osegueda proving just why he is one of the best vocalists in thrash- his range seemingly limitless.

The back stretch of the record is just as strong; “The Pack “is a real headbanger and the sound is heavy with a pleasing low end throughout. The reason for the earlier comparison to “Relentless Retribution” comes from the tempos; “Humanicide” is a heavy record, no doubt, but it is not that speedy.

Thrash is usually thought of as being up-tempo, reaching beyond Motorhead into more extreme territory. While it's true that “Ghost of Me” is no slouch, it is also accurate to point out that much of the track is at mid tempo- indeed a good deal of the album is. That is not to say that energy is lacking, just to say that this is not a thrash fest in the same way that the previous two records were. This heavy mid-tempo trend continues through “Revelation Song”, but fortunately Death Angel know how to craft fine songs so the adrenaline factor is not the be all and end all here.

The melodies in “Of Rats And Men” is as much a feature as the speed and therein lies the niche of Death Angel. The band will never match Slayer for speed, Exodus for brutality, Megadeth for technical display or Testament for a fusion of extreme styles in the melting pot, but they WILL deliver quality songs with melodies and hooks that are downright catchy. There is no doubt that the band has been consistent over the years (a mid career break did them a lot of good and must have extended their longevity) and it is a joy to hear them still sounding so vital and energised.

Overall then, this is yet another strong entry into the bands discography. It's a solid and classy record, strong from front to back and with ten tracks of high quality material. A little more speed next time around and I would be even happier!

“Humancide” is available HERE

Band info: facebook

Sunday 12 May 2019

ALBUM REVIEW: Saint Vitus, "Saint Vitus"

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 17/05/2019
Label: Season of Mist

“Saint Vitus” CD//DD//LP track listing:

01. "Remains" (6:23)
02. "A Prelude To..." (3:20)
03. "Bloodshed" (3:04)
04. "12 Years in the Tomb" (5:24)
05. "Wormhole" (5:22)
06. "Hour Glass" (5:23)
07. "City Park" (4:01)
08. "Last Breath" (6:38)
09. "Useless" (1:32)

The Review:

Saint Vitus return with their first full length since 2012 and their first with Scott Reagers on the mic since... 1995! Saint Vitus' position as one of the greatest doom bands of all time is not in doubt- even if people think that doom these days is two hippies playing two chords to larger crowds than Vitus have ever pulled.

Reagers' previous best albums with the band are all seminal to doom; the Sabbath sludge of their debut, the punk leanings of “Hallows Victim”, the career high-point of “Die Healing”... classic all and wonderful entries into the doom genre that went so far as to form and innovate it. After the joy of Wino returning to the band and then the release of “Lilie F-65”, many fans were a little underwhelmed- the record had a few too many fillers and felt rushed (if a record born a decade and a half too late can be “rushed”).

So what about their new self titled effort?! Well, this is the best album since “Die Healing”, no doubt and for me it is a good deal better than many of their other albums as well. With the band line up drastically changed (Armando Acosta dead, Mark Adams fighting a battle with Parkinsons and Wino having exited), Saint Vitus have something to prove here. They, of course, are up to the task: Dave Chandler is still a maestro and one of my favourites- not to mention most instantly recognisable- guitar players and Reagers sounds just as fired up as he did three decades ago. Unbelievable, but true.

This time around, you get eight full tracks and an experimental soundscape with samples. The sound is superb- thick and organic, very clear but it sounds so alive and full of power. Henry Vasquez pounds the kit like Bonham in his later years and that large diameter bass drum gets a thorough kicking. Pat Bruders (ex- Down/Crowbar) brings a fat and competent bottom end while the two veterans are on fine, fine form.

The opener “Remains” is prime Vitus- paranoid, despairing, slithering. Great start. From there you get the curveball “A Prelude To” with its quiet delivery and west coast nightmare vibe- a wonderfully offbeat track. “Bloodshed” is fast and pretty furious, a throwback to “Hallows Victim” for sure. “12 Years In The Tomb” is a beast- but you know that from the stream already.

“Wormhole” keeps the doom flowing slow and low while “Hour Glass” has a riff to die for , even if “City Park” is the experimental soundscape that no one is really asking for. Fortunately, “Last Breath” is a doom 101: monumentally heavy and dark. Classic Vitus. By the time the full on hardcore of “Useless” ripped out of the speakers, I was sold on this album.

This is classic Vitus every step of the way and I could not have hoped for a better album this late in the game. Just where it will sit in the band's canon of releases, I'm not sure, particularly as the sound/production and mix is so good that it is hard to compare to earlier albums as it is just so pleasing to the ear. You never know, it could be their last album and if that is the case they will have gone out on a high.

“Saint Vitus” is available HERE

Band info: facebook

Tuesday 7 May 2019

ALBUM REVIEW: AORATOS, "Gods Without Name"

By: Mark Ambrose

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 22/03/2019
Label: Debemur Morti Productions

“Gods Without Name” CD//DD//LP track listing

1). Parallax I
2). Holy Mother of Terror
3). Of Harvest, Scythe and Sickle Moon
4). Gods Without Name
5). Thresher
6). The Watcher on the Threshold
7). Prayer of Abjection
8). Dread Spirit of the Place
9). Parallax II

The Review:

There must be other US black metal artists out there delivering atmospheric, occult, disturbing hymns to elder gods.  But between Akhlys, Nightbringer, and now AORATOS, one-man powerhouse Naas Alcameth (aka Kyle Spanswick) has seemingly cornered the market on truly grim, pitch black metal.  Naas is one of the most prolific one-man powerhouses in black metal, which (SoundCloud rappers notwithstanding) may be the most dominant “solo” genre of the moment.  You’d be forgiven for assuming so much output from one songwriter would be indistinguishable or, at worst, repetitive, but his latest work as AORATOS should shut up any naysayers: Naas Alcameth has a seemingly boundless well of interesting and diverse offerings to the darkness.

As a thematic departure from his prior work, AORATOS seems less focused on the introspective dreamscapes of Akhlys or the arcane magickal workings of Nightbringer. Instead, AORATOS is an earthier turn to primordial worship.  The “group’s” promotional images feature two hooded, robed figures lurking near a dilapidated farmhouse, one holding an old-fashioned pitchfork.  But this isn’t some hokey devilry – this feels like some cult roots, some ancient hearth magic. 

Naas’s lyrics on “Of Harvest, Scythe, and Sickle Moon” paint a picture of medieval peasant life supplemented by rootsy paganism: “I’ve ripped my hair and torn my skin / to get my master’s harvest in / I’ve reeved all flesh for the mighty dead / and blooded the field neath the moon of red.” There’s an unrelenting drive towards some high-minded ancient ancestry in a lot of black metal (often towards elitism or, in some sinister circumstances, racial purity). This feels like a raw and honest departure – few of us were descended from pseudo-elven kings and warriors, but our low forbears may have enjoyed a dark communion without even being able to read.  In “Gods Without Name”, Naas invokes spirits that carried weight for generations without the burden of holy scriptures or grimoires: “God of the attic, cellar and wheel. God of the shed, abbatoir and mill. God of the edge, grotto and grove. Dark gods of the plot to whom I’m betrothed.”

Naas himself handles all the instrumental duties (guitars and synth), as well as lead vocals, while Nox Corvus (main man of ANOTHER solo black metal project, Serpent of the Black Forest) offers some guitar work and backing vocals.  Menthor, drummer of Nightbringer, Necrosadist, and others, is the standard type of black metal powerhouse you need on an album so expansive sounding. 

Naas has layers upon layers of instrumentation and vocals, creating a chorus of tortured but distinguishable shrieks and howls.  The guitars vary between shimmering but almost out-of-tune picking (which is way more unsettling than my description would make it seem), massive chords, and tremolo picking that will make the hairs on your neck stand up.  Menthor’s precise double kick work and blast beats is invigorating, while the sparse, doomy crashes of “Dead Spirit of the Place” punctuates the nightmarish, nearly ambient closer before launching into full on black metal assault: one assumes Frost would be proud, and don’t get me wrong, this is still remarkably evil sounding.  

Naas isn’t writing an anthropological dissertation – he’s subverting the expectations of what themes carry black metal.  It’s smart but the plain descriptions of superstitions and homespun occult practice are sincere and totally unpretentious.  There’s something undeniably chilling when Naas howls “I am the thresher ‘neath the moon’s baleful eye! I am the thresher, the wolf in the rye!”  If this is the worship music of the hearth magician, consider me converted.

“Gods Without Name” is available HERE

Band info: bandcamp

LIVE REVIEW: Perturbator @ Club Red (Mesa, AZ) Sat, April 27, 2019

Words & Photos By: Nikos Mixas

So, let me start this live review out with an apology and an explanation if it appears that I don’t know what the fuck I’m writing about in regard to the band Perturbator.  I have never sat down and listened to Perturbator before I saw them recently at their Phoenix, Arizona date on their current North American trek.  In addition, you may have read my monthly column for THE SLUDGELORD entitled THE “666 Pack Review” (Shameless plug, sorry, not sorry).  I’m not so pleasant at times in regards to the bands I review and that’s mainly because they just need to work at their craft a bit more and not take themselves so seriously.  Perturbator is already an established band so what the fuck can I say about him that would influence someone whether or not they would buy his albums or going to his shows? Nothing at all…

I arrived by the time the opening act, the “darksynth” GosT, was already blasting the crowd with enough smoke to kill a small animal and enough strobes to find out if someone there might be epileptic.  I was texting with a friend about them and the only way I knew how to describe GosT to that person was to imagine for them to imagine if a couple of the Cenobites from the movie Hellraiser formed a techno+death metal band.  Anyway, GosT was decent.  “Darksynth” is not my thing, but if it comes down to listening to that or country music, darksynth would win out every time for me.  The music comprised of some uber distorted bass along with synthesizer and programmed drum beats.  Again, not so much my thing but it didn’t bother me until….the vokilz kicked in courtesy of the synth player.  I’m trying not to bash the guy too much, but it sounded like a half-ass Peter Murphy attempting black metal screams every now and then.  I think if they had a stand-alone and dedicated vocalist, it would be pretty tolerable.

After GosT, I really got a chance to look around at the people that were in attendance.  It was pretty evident that this billing attracted music lovers from several different music fandoms.  I saw everything from Brujeria/Napalm Death shirts to a couple of dudes doing their best to rip the look of Johnny Depp playing the character Raoul Duke in “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.”  Before Perturbator took the stage, I also noticed the whole wall behind the stage was actually a lighting rig.  This was not your average lighting rig and I’ll probably hate myself describing it. This thing looked like it was part of the alien mothership from “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and could kill people.    


In addition to writing up the show, I had the uber pleasure of attempting to photograph it.  Long story short, the mothership owned me.  Sure, I got some decent pics here and there, but that wall of light rig was an absolute demon when the music started.  Perturbator, may be “darksynth” and a reason to dance your ass off when you go to one of his shows, but that light show was second to none.  The music is 100% in sync with every light.  Every beat, and there were a shit ton of them, triggered a spot on that rig.  If you’ve never checked out Perturbator live before, just do it for their light show alone. 

Now that I’m over writing about how incredible that light show was, the actual music was pretty great too.  Again, I’m writing this from the perspective that I saw them without first listening to them.  Trying to compare it to anything is difficult for me since I don’t have much knowledge of the genre.  If I could compare it to anything, it would be an angrier and heavier Skinny Puppy.  The live drums (apparently this doesn’t happen much) were a nice touch too. It didn’t even bother me that they were triggered to no end and they sounded better than most death metal band drums by a mile.  Would I go see Perturbator again if the opportunity presented itself?  Absolutely.  I would even recommend Perturbator for your average SLUDGELORD reader, that is, if SLUDGELORD readers were just “average.”   

ALBUM REVIEW: Herman Frank, "Fight The Fear"

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length#
Date Released: 08/02/2019
Label: AFM Records GmbH

This is superlative heavy metal delivered by one of the masters of the genre

“Fight The Fear” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1. Until The End
2. Fear
3. Terror
4. Sinners
5. Hatred
6. Hail & Row
7. Hitman
8. Stay Down
9. Rock You
10. Don’t Cross The Line
11. Are You Ready
12. Wings Of Destiny
13. Waiting For The Night
14. Lost In Heaven

The Review:

One half of Accept's legendary guitar attack returns to action here with a trad metal powerhouse of a record. I have two of his previous solo records- “Loyal to None” and “Right In The Guts”, but I must confess to missing “The Devil Rides Out” in 2016. What Herman gives the listener here is... traditional teutonic heavy metal. This is anthemic, bombastic- suitable for soundtracking crushing your enemies and seeing their women driven before you- and resolutely old school.

The Euro vocals of Rick Altizi are perfectly suited to the musical approach. The rest of the band play tight and heavy, while Herman is allowed to excel outside of Accept's confines as a player and riff master. The one-two punch combination of “Until The End” and “Fear” would sit admirably on any trad metal album you can name- a sound midway between Accept, Maiden, Motorhead and Priest. The “tanks rolling” feel of “Terror” may remind you of a certain Accept track that shares a lot of the same DNA, but this is what I want from Herman Frank- crushing metal delivered with complete conviction.

The heavy hits keep on coming- there are fourteen tracks on offer here. If anything, it's nearly too much as “Sinners” roars out of the traps with as much firepower as “Until The End”. It's a punishing hour long listen- but can soundtrack a lengthy workout superbly! “Hatred” is mid-tempo but no less crushing. There are moments of respite. “Hail & Row” is downcast and moodier than the preceding five tracks and “Hitman” is different again with its AC/DC feel. “Stay Down” is akin to Accept's more steady material while “Rock You” is as serious about business as the title implies.

The Motorhead-like loping groove of “Don't Cross The Line” would have done the Kilmister/Campbell/Dee line up proud. “Are You Ready” is a straight up rocker, built for a US amphitheatre in 1985. Yes, the lyrical cliches are constant and the feel is unashamedly retro, but so what? This is heavy metal. No more, no less. The album throws up an absolute gem in the form of “Wings of Destiny” and, naturally, it recalls Priest at the peak of the early 80's pomp. It may well be the best track on here and it absolutely slays.

”Lost In Heaven” is a more restrained finishing statement from Herman Frank and his band. I can't help but recommend this album to lovers of real traditional metal. It's a long record- maybe a couple of tracks too long- but there is not a duff song on here and it matches any other trad album of recent times, I reckon. This is superlative heavy metal delivered by one of the masters of the genre. It will wreck.

“Fight The Fear” is available HERE

Band info: facebook

Sunday 5 May 2019

ALBUM REVIEW: Inter Arma, "Sulphur English"

By: Mark Ambrose

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 12/04/2019
Label: Relapse Records

The triple guitar attacks, rippling blast beats, and ambient drones may make your skin crawl one moment, before taking your breath away with a moment of acoustic beauty.  If there’s a record coming this year that can outdo this one, I’m more than happy to listen.  But for now, Inter Arma stands head and shoulders above the rest

“Sulphur English” CD//DD//2LPTrack listing

1). Bumgardner
2). A Waxen Sea
3). Citadel
4). Howling Lands
5). Stillness
6). Observances of the Path
7). The Atavist’s Meridien
8). Blood on the Lupines
9). Sulphur English

The Review:

To call Inter Arma one of the standout groups in current metal feels like an understatement:  while they’ve been a solid doomy/sludgy/deathy collective since their debut, “Sundown”, their releases with Relapse Records, starting with 2013’s “Sky Burial”, have been increasingly complex, challenging, and moving. Their latest, “Sulphur English”, is yet another high water mark and an early contender for “year’s best”.

Like the best metal “intro” tracks, “Bumgardner” is atmospheric and pummeling leadup to the chaos and violence to follow.  The rolling drumbeats and mounting static lead right into the gargantuan central riff of “A Waxen Sea”.  You might imagine, with the churning, tidal instrumentation pervading the track, the lyrics would be sheer nihilism, but Inter Arma is a group that effortlessly embraces the terrifying and the sublime.  Some of the lyrics here are practically Wordsworthian: “The morning rises guardedly / Over a stirring countryside / Illuminating the far off sea. / A waxen shield, horizon’s protector.”  It isn’t so much pretty, as it is fundamentally stirring.  

“Citadel” turns toward grimness and decay, referring to the seasons spoiling, wounds “of corporeal and psychic root” that hold the narrator captive.  But Inter Arma keeps turning away from the metallic tropes of abject misery – while there is strife, lead singer Mike Paparo intones that, “A fire burns deep in the citadel of my heart”. Meanwhile, Steven Russell and Trey Dalton swap some of the most face-melting guitar leads and menacing harmonies this side of a Morbid Angel record.
It’s hard not to dissect each song at length – “Howling Lands” is like a death rock dirge crossed with a tribal war dance, highlighting the muscular power that drummer/multi-instrumentalist TJ Childers brings to the band. Plus, between “Howling Lands” and “Stillness”, Paparo pulls off a convincing gothic baritone that occasionally sounds like Danzig at his sweaty, howling best.

“Observances of the Path” serves as an interlude from the folk-metal hymnal of “Stillness” to the complex, polyrhythmic cacophony of “The Atavist’s Meridian”.  For nearly half the song’s twelve minutes, it builds in tension, never approaching a major key or melodic reprieve.  A mid-song interlude lulls the listener into a false sense of security, interspersing quieter, looser guitar picking with spoken word snippets, before gradually building to a violent climax that sounds like Childers is pummeling every drum in the western hemisphere.  I heard this track while driving through catastrophic rain and it was one of the most distressing, terrifying, and exhilarating listens I’ve had in a while – sometimes things just line up perfectly.

“Blood on the Lupines” may be the most “doom” track on the record, at least in terms of tempo and scorching, filthy bass tone courtesy of Joe Kerkes.  But the psychedelic guitar tones occasionally evoke Pink Floyd and early King Crimson.  Paparo dips into his baritone (now more Peter Steele than Glenn), but still howls and shrieks like he’s possessed by some primal, prehistoric spirit.  Taken in tandem with the closing title track, the demonic fury is a beautiful juxtaposition.  Sulphur English” closes like a sermon, warning about the “corrupt tongue of imperious fools” and exhorting the crowd to “beware the charlatan”. I’d be tempted to draw current political analogies, but “Sulphur English’s themes echo through time, more Paleolithic than Anthropocene.  

The idea that these charlatans “in threads woven in gilded opulence” seem to emerge in every era is just as haunting as the propulsive, buzzing music that Inter Arma weaves through the track, and the album itself.  The triple guitar attacks, rippling blast beats, and ambient drones may make your skin crawl one moment, before taking your breath away with a moment of acoustic beauty.   Sulphur English” is a rare record that functions both as a showcase of eclectic and skilled musicianship and a unified, brilliant tome best enjoyed in one prolonged listen.  If there’s a record coming this year that can outdo it, I’m more than happy to listen.  But for now, Inter Arma stands head and shoulders above the rest.

“Sulphur English” is available HERE

Band info: bandcamp || facebook