Inter Arma produced one of last year’s most stunning metal releases in Sky Burial. Its artful mixing of sludge and post metal aesthetics, plus the addition of quality song writing, made for one of 2013’s most forward thinking records. So when the opportunity arose to cover The Cavern, 45 minutes of music written and recorded during the touring for Sky Burial, came up I leapt at it. What intrigued me most is the idea that you’re hearing how a band’s previous work is affecting their mindset when it comes to writing new material, so soon after the last.
The Cavern opens with spacey sound effects, a precursor of this journey we are about to take. Delicate acoustics appear, intertwining melodies that conjure images of rays of light piercing through the clouds on a morning. The crescendo builds slowly, until a sledgehammer riff appears and the mood changes. If you’ll excuse the pun, this sounds cavernous. Sky Burial was great to me because of the vastness of its riffs and atmosphere. The Cavern continues this path, deftly combining the thunder of prime sludge doom with some Isis style guitar melodies.
When vocalist Mike Paparo’s vocals appear after over five minutes, the mood is complete. He sounds like he is roaring, impassioned, over the void. He combines the power of Aaron Turner with the primal rage of Matt Pike. The ferocity that clashes with the thunderous riffs around the eight minute mark is particularly effective. The Cavern picks up the mantle of a band like Isis and bring it into the post post-metal scene (post squared?). Inter Arma are doing things that bring to mind the revolution that Mastodon wrought upon metal 10 years ago with Leviathan.
The Cavern ebbs and flows like a great track should. Around the 15 minute mark you have a very Mastodonian set of melodies that bring to mind Aqua Dementia from Leviathan, but not in a derivative way. The Cavern shows why Sky Burial was such a success of last year. Inter Arma are a band that can make a 45 minute track constantly interesting, unexpected and infinitely powerful. They are this generation’s Cult of Luna, this generation’s Isis. They sacrifice none of the heft of their sludge to ensure that the music is progressive without being dense. Dazzlingly complex in parts and primitively simple and heavy in others.
There’s too many points to pick a favourite moment. Possibly at twenty minutes when the violin backing comes in and the whole thing becomes mournful and introspective before the riffs return. Like I said before, Inter Arma balance the light and the heavy perfectly, and have crafted a piece of music that would stand up against anything Neurosis, Isis or Cult of Luna could have written. And that is high praise. Hail to the heirs of Leviathan’s throne.
Scribed by: Sandy Williamson