Inter Arma 'Sundown' 12 LP
Being the out-of-the-loop hermit that I am, Inter Arma is yet another band from here in Richmond, VA that I had never heard of prior to receiving this album for review. I believe "Sundown" is the band's first full-length outing (released by Forcefield Records), and after a 40-second intro consisting of soft, melodic piano, things burst forth with harsh, unrelenting screams over an unexpected (and shockingly fluid) mix of black metal and sludge. The sludgier aspects of the riffing definitely have that southern-tinged groove happening, but they're certainly not overly rocked out or what have you, and that's probably what helps them blend so well with the blasting percussion and discordant tremolo picking runs that creep into the song structures from time to time. The majority of the compositions surpass six minutes, but they keep things moving with a number of tempo changes and occasional forays into slow, pounding rhythms with a little hypnotic repetition happening, as well as lightly "progressive" elements during some of the instrumental breaks. There are some pretty damn raging solos in a few spots as well, not to mention a nice acoustic instrumental, so… expect a lot of cool surprises and twists throughout. Everything's topped off by an excellently appropriate recording that keeps things fairly dry and rugged, so there's a lot of natural warmth to the mix and the tones/textures have that "right there in the room" kind of feel.