Album Review: Inter Arma – Sulphur English

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Band: Inter Arma | Album: Sulphur English | Genre: Progressive metal, Sludge metal, Black metal | Year: 2019

From: Richmond, USA | Label: Relapse Records

For fans of: early Mastodon, Agalloch, Giant Squid

Buy: BandcampAmazonApple Music

Inter Arma is among the most-talked-about bands in the realm of modern progressive metal (at least online). It’s not hard to see why. The band’s last few releases have been stellar, and their most recent album, 2016’s Paradise Gallows, was especially impressive in its scope and ambition. They’ve managed to effectively blend the pounding heaviness of doom and sludge metal with the speed and sharpness of black metal. I try not to set my hopes too high for high-profile releases like this, lest I be disappointed with a pretty good album.

Sulphur English continues a trend that was begun on Paradise Gallows. Their 2016 release was the first of theirs to feature clean vocals, and acoustic guitar was even given prominent placement at moments. Clean vocals are even more widespread on Sulphur English, and acoustic guitars continue to be given a large role in an increasing number of songs, offering a sharp contrast against the thundering, growling sludge riffs. Continue reading “Album Review: Inter Arma – Sulphur English”

Album Review: Pervy Perkin – Comedia: Inferno

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Band: Pervy Perkin | Album: Comedia: Inferno | Genre: Progressive metal, Progressive rock, Death metal | Year:  2019

From: Madrid, Spain | Label: Independent

For fans of: Dream Theater, Between the Buried and Me, Cynic, Porcupine Tree

Buy: Bandcamp | Apple Music

Literary references are nothing new in the fields of rock and metal. Grim writings, in particular, have provided musical inspiration to artists ranging from metal bands like Mastodon to acts as impressively-un-metallic as The Alan Parsons Project. The Inferno section of Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy is one of the most-referenced works in the whole of the literary canon. In spite of this, Comedia: Inferno, is an inventive, original, and enthralling album.

Each of the nine songs represents one of Dante’s nine concentric circles of Hell. Pervy Perkin’s music has always been heavy, but they turned up the aggression sharply here to match the dark subject matter. Continue reading “Album Review: Pervy Perkin – Comedia: Inferno”

Odds and Ends – March 21, 2019

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Odds and Ends is a segment where I do brief reviews of albums I either didn’t prioritize for longer-form reviews, or ones for which I don’t have that much to say.

a1945761875_10Band: Cheeto’s Magazine | Album: Amazingous | Genre: Progressive rock, Pop, Progressive metal | Bandcamp

This album was a disorienting experience. Cheeto’s Magazine blend sunshiny pop with metal riffs and complex structures. The closest analogue I can think of would be A.C.T., though this has an even more aggressively poppy edge. The songwriting is consistently ambitious, and there are some moments reminiscent of Dream Theater’s better output. I give them a lot of credit for ambition, but the juxtaposition of metal with those bubblegum synths is often jarring.

Score:  69/100 Continue reading “Odds and Ends – March 21, 2019”

Album Review: Piah Mater – The Wandering Daughter

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Band: Piah Mater | Album: The Wandering Daughter | Year: 2018 | Genre: Progressive metal, Progressive rock, Death Metal

From: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil | Label: Code 666

For fans of: Opeth, Riverside, Porcupine Tree/Steven Wilson

Buy: Bandcamp | Amazon | Apple Music

Piah Mater are a Brazilian trio performing a style of progressive death metal highly reminiscent of Opeth’s classic material. That’s not an easy sound to execute, but these guys pull it off excellently. Had Mikael Åkerfeldt and his crew put this out, this would be hailed as Opeth’s best album since Watershed.

After the brief, idyllic opener, growls and aggressive, chugging death metal riffs take the spotlight and drive “Solace in Oblivion” forward. As is to be expected of a band so heavily drawing from Opeth’s sound, these extended pieces have frequent breaks of quiet jazz guitar and moments of soaring clean vocals. Many of the softer moments would not feel out of place on a Camel album. The narration on this song is pretty corny, but it’s a minor issue overall. Continue reading “Album Review: Piah Mater – The Wandering Daughter”

Album Review: Kekal – Deeper Underground

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Band: Kekal | Album: Deeper Underground | Year: 2018 | Genre: Progressive metal, Black metal, Electronic

From: Jakarta, Indonesia | Label: Hitam Kelam Records

For fans of: Agalloch, Atheist, Kayo Dot

Buy: BandcampAmazon | Apple Music

Kekal have been around for two decades, but this may be their best album yet. The band’s signature sound of complex black metal, catchy pop sensibilities, and wonky electronics comes together in a way more balanced than anything else I’ve previously heard from them. This is a huge improvement over their last release, 2015’s Multilateral, which was an uneven effort. Throughout much of this band’s discography, they’ve often had a hard time getting the black metal and electronic influences to meld effectively.

Here, however, Kekal have dialed back the electronic elements of their sound. Bloops and bleeps are saved for interludes and building texture and atmosphere. It’s rare for synthesizers to take the spotlight for any extended period of time. This isn’t some purely black metal shredfest, either. Yes, a lot of the metal here is extreme, but the band also mixes in gentler sounds, ample interludes, and surprisingly accessible moments. Continue reading “Album Review: Kekal – Deeper Underground”