Inter Arma – Sulphur English (Relapse Records)

How do Inter Arma keep doing it? The Virginians seem to draw their creative energy from deep within the earth, channelling something otherworldly, yet also very human… and emotionally raw.

They’ve been moving towards a more progressive, psyched-out sound since 2013’s Sky Burial reared its head… and two albums and two EPs later, the quartet are still on an astonishing run of form.

Sulphur English is a place where you’ll discover bliss (the wistful, acoustic strains of Stillness, for instance) and the kind of atom-splitting heaviness that only a few bands can harness: A Waxen Sea tears through tectonic plates with its depth charge riffs and annihilating blastbeats; Citadel is like a jam between a young Paradise Lost and Neurosis (what a thought); and Howling Lands builds layers of tumultuous noise on top of menacing, hypnotic tribal rhythms.

The album flows towards its apocalyptic conclusion, sometimes entering gentler waters (Blood On The Lupines), at other times, cascading from a cliff (The Atavist’s Meridian). You’ll be sucked into a black hole and regurgitated at the other side, with barely a moment to catch your breath before the full force of Sulphur English pushes you back into the void. It’s genuinely thrilling, if you let it take hold.

Indeed, calling Inter Arma a ‘sludge’ band nowadays is like saying Enslaved are old school norsecore: the Richmond boys are on their own trip into the netherworld, visionaries seeking some ancient, primordial truth.

Plenty of bands attempt what Inter Arma have done here, but end up creating a ‘post’ pastiche. Sulphur English. however, is the real deal. And the world should be thankful for it.