Published Oct 14, 2014Since 2006, Richmond, VA wrecking crew Inter Arma have been keeping audiences on their toes with a hydra-headed hybrid of extreme metal that draws on doom, psych, mathcore and hardcore. But with their new EP, The Cavern, they've taken their metal melting pot and poured the contents into one album's worth of awesome. Originally written prior to last year's breakout sophomore effort, Sky Burial, The Cavern is a brilliantly sustained metallic workout that shifts from barrages of gut-punch riffage to breathless moments of creeping menace and back again.
The narrative concept — a solitary figure struggling against a harsh landscape, watched over by birds of prey, and entering a sort of dark night of the soul — lends a cohesiveness to the somewhat underwhelming lyrics, which benefit from singer Mike Paporo's impassioned growl. Better yet, as with Sky Burial, the production is impeccably heavy, all sonorous bass drum hits and a crackling snare that perfectly complement the woolly guitar distortion; its the sort of attention to detail to rival the engineering skills of Kurt Ballou (Converge, Old Man Gloom) or Randall Dunn (Eagle Twin, Earth).
Only the third quarter of the album gets a bit bogged down in solos and excessive guitarmonies. Otherwise, for anyone who keeps wishing Mastodon would return to their Leviathan-style opuses or for Sleep to make another Dopesmoker, Inter Arma's The Cavern is an excellent place to hole up for 45 minutes of truly epic metal. (Relapse)