Review: Inter Arma ‘New Heaven’

After a long five years, the five-piece out of Richmond, Virginia known as Inter Arma has returned. This is one I have been looking forward to since discovering the band a few years ago. I consider their last two releases (Paradise Gallows and Sulphur English) near perfect albums and listen to them quite frequently.

Inter Arma 'New Heaven' Artwork
Inter Arma ‘New Heaven’ Artwork

I had the opportunity to hear one of the new songs last year when they played it live and loved what I heard. I eagerly awaited a new single but unfortunately was disappointed when New Heaven, the title track, was released. It was extremely dissonant and the change in production style was jarring after hearing the massive mixes of previous releases.

I love some dissonant music (the darker Blut Aus Nord and Portrayal of Guilt comes to mind) but I wanted some riffs and huge passages as I had come to love from previous releases. I decided not to pre-order the album and fell into despair.

Once the album was released, I decided to give it a listen in full. It was in that gloriousforty-one minutes that I was reminded: Inter Arma writes albums, not individual songs! I have since listened to New Heaven nearly every day over the last couple of weeks, and with each subsequent listen, it gets better. The songs flow seamlessly, and I find it very difficult to pick out individual tracks when returning for a listen.

an absolutely monumental album…

It is not just the tracks that are fluid from one to another, but the genres as well. Across the eight tracks, we are pummeled by massive doom riffs, entranced by psychedelic black metal, wooed by southern rock and a damn near country song. Despite being so eclectic, it never feels forced. Inter Arma has always danced around in multiple genres, but this release shows them moving further into each extreme with an uncanny comfort. The changes of mood occur because it is exactly what should happen in each moment.

The band also shows their talents on this album more than ever before; all of the members contribute immensely. Soaring guitar leads and a very present bass (there is even a bass solo!), nasty vocal growls as well as strong baritone cleans and some of the best drumming you will hear. TJ Childers is an absolutely brilliant drummer and provides some of the most innovative percussion I have heard. The man is also as fast as he is creative behind the set.

On the subject of drums, I think the drum mix was better in previous releases. It doesn’t sound quite as massive as before, especially the kick. On the last couple releases it had this massive punch to it, and now it sounds a bit small. That said, it is a small complaint I have against an absolutely monumental album that has become one of my favorites of the year. Also, if you get a chance to see them on tour, DO IT! They were one of the best acts I had the opportunity to witness last year.

Label: Relapse Records
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