Concert preview: Inter Arma continues evolving with 'Paradise Gallows'
The titleParadise Gallows, the 2016 long-player from Virginia-based metal crew Inter Arma, reflects the album's broad musical and lyrical scope.
Songs stretch from bright, airy numbers that could rightly be described as beautiful (opener "Nomini," named for a Virginia town about 60 miles northeast of the band's Richmond home, captures the feel of stepping inside a grand cathedral, sunlight streaming through colored glass) to sludgy, pummeling turns like "An Archer in the Emptiness," which pairs frontman Mike Paparo's demonic growls with an instrumental assault that sounds like great armies of orcs readying to do battle in the "Lord of the Rings" films.
"Oh, how I long / For a slumber so true / Beyond the ceaseless din / Of man's loathsome song," sings Paparo, who, unsurprisingly, shied from describing himself as the outgoing type. "I'm not a big fan of people," he said, and laughed. "And I don't have a lot of hope for humanity."
Even so, there are optimistic moments scattered amid the desperation, horror and anger. Witness "Transfiguration," a nine-plus minute stunner where the singer howls about mankind's potential for change. Of course, one song later he's back to describing humanity as "Earth's primordial wound" on a dark, furious turn inspired in part by a 2015 speech by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
"With 'Primordial Wound,' I was sitting there coming up with [vocal] patterns ... and I saw this clip of a Trump speech and ended up writing the rest of the song in maybe a day," said Paparo, 33, who joins his Inter Arma bandmates for a concert at Ace of Cups on Thursday, Oct. 6. "That was the first time I've written anything even vaguely political. It was sort of outside my box, but I just said, 'Fuck it. I have to write this.'"
Though Inter Arma recordedParadise Gallows in September 2015 during an efficient two-week stretch at Dark Art Audio in Nashville, Tennessee, the songs sound like they could have been developed over centuries, with four of the album's nine tracks stretching beyond 10 minutes (grandiose closer "Where the Earth Meets the Sky," for one, clocks in just shy of 30 minutes).
"We're all fans of bands like Om, where it's repetitive and you're building this meditative vibe," said Paparo, noting the epic structures force him to experiment with his voice (the singer's vocal approach ranges from guttural moans to cleaner, more straightforward singing) and to invest more time on the lyrics.
"I understand that it's metal - and it's extreme metal - and I could probably get away with spending no time on the lyrics and it would be fine. Let's face it, how many people are going to understand most of it anyways?" he said. "But I feel like the songs are so good that I'd be doing them an injustice if I did that. It's a really moody band, and the moods require different types of approaches."
Ace of Cups
8 p.m. Thursday,
2619 N. High St.,
ALSO PLAYING: Call of the Void, Lo-Pan