When I initially took this review on, I didn’t even notice that it was a covers record. Basically ever since 2013’s superlative Sky Burial, I’ll jump at the chance of as much Inter Arma as I can get. So when I loaded it all up for plays, it was a little bit of a surprise. Cover albums can be great, but they can be a little self indulgent if not handled well. I had some faith that this would probably work, but here we go.
Most of the songs on here I was familiar with the originals but not all. We open with Ministry’s classic Scarecrow, whose droning industrial swagger provides a perfect style for Inter Arma‘s atmospheric post-sludge to recreate. Inter Arma‘s version doesn’t have that industrial, fuzzed up feel but it definitely brings the same level of menace.
The change of pace for their cover of Neil Young’s Southern Man is immediate, and this is one of the songs I did not know previously. Inter Arma‘s haunting rendition becomes a sludge odyssey, savage and visceral to the point where it feels like EyeHateGod snuck in here somewhere. The battering of Cro-Mags’ Hard Times and the stomping March Of The Pigs really answer where some of the more aggressive moments of the band’s discography comes from.
If you needed any more evidence that Inter Arma are a band that are special, look no further than this…
Normally I wouldn’t go song by song on an album review like this, but it feels like every track here can be placed in Inter Arma‘s sound. I don’t know the next track, Hüsker Dü’s The Girl Who Lived On Heaven Hill but it really brings the blackened edge of Inter Arma to the fore. An endless drumming barrage and sharp, shrieking vocals rampage over bass heavy riffing and of course that black metal credential is just improved by the killer In League With Satan Venom cover that follows. I’m not a big Tom Petty guy, so the nuances of their Runnin’ Down A Dream cover is lost on me a bit, but it’s a great driving rock song. Closing with a vast, atmospheric, gloomy version of Prince’s Purple Rain is spine tingling; absolutely perfect in its capture of the original’s power, its soul.
If you needed any more evidence that Inter Arma are a band that are special, look no further than this. Elements of Inter Arma‘s sound can be traced to each track, and each cover is rendered with the utmost respect. Some bands like to reinvent a song, Inter Arma just go straight out and nail every single one in their signature style. This definitely could be one of the few covers album I’d actually play more than once through. Worth the purchase for Prince alone.
Scribed by: Sandy Williamson