Inter Arma’s new album Sulphur English is a relentlessly epic masterpiece of derangement. In this world the intense heavy band have crafted, there’s no salvation. The record maintains a clear storytelling progression that rockets the listener right into the sonic equivalent of the flames engulfing its cover art. The sheer intensity of their latest songs ensures that this chaos doesn’t spin out without the listener. Instead, it’s engulfing everyone and everything in its past as it steamrolls through in a ghastly display of demented power.
The band employ a full range of texture, from chaotic black metal that feels like a translation into music of the experience of almost drowning to gentler portions that feel like they’re being shared around a raging campfire as the darkness teems around the backs of those who’ve gathered. Following the lyrics through the album lets the listener in on just how strongly Inter Arma have adhered to a storytelling component this time around — although it’s not an apparent concept record per se, in its peaks and valleys, it relates the tale of ending up left for dead and pulling yourself from the wreckage only to find more desolation. In this environment, our most precious realities have fallen — the safety of everything from the natural world to human settlements has been all but annihilated. The lengthy standout track “The Atavist’s Meridian,” which was released as a single, shines a spotlight on at least an effort to cope with the destruction, pining for a purer possibility for our existence wherein we aren’t the amputated limbs of nature flailing around in our cities until the neurological surges run out.
“Howling Lands” is another standout moment in that it lets another light shine on the scope of where the band are going with their wild, impressive, and ultimately enthralling intensity. That track (which features the contributions of Tyler Coburn, who drums for Thou these days, among other things) feels like an intense tribal experience, which while ethereal, maintains the gut-rattling intensity of the band’s earlier relentless work on the record. The beast thereby gets shown as that much huger.
Throughout the lengthy experience of Sulphur English, Inter Arma keep their train of wonderfully unsettling riffs and textures coming, bringing their sprawling work together under the heading of amazing sheer intensity. The album feels like a remarkably clear expression of nature raging through our most primal, deeply set inclinations. Stability can’t last forever.
Listen below via Bandcamp. The full album releases April 12 via Relapse Records.