I started the opening track over about 10 times before I could believe that the album really started off like that. Like you stepped into a club 2 seconds after they started their set, after showing your ID to a doorman in a soundproof room, and then: BOOM. It’s in your face. It’s fucking brutal. It feels a little like this:
But, we’re all penitents for this sort of thing. We crave the lashings. Sky Burial is a journey. It flows like a doom record, to hints of Norwegian black metal, to a Pink Floyd album (which, strangely, Pitchfork agrees). The title track, “Sky Burial” breaks down in a Dark Side of the Moon fashion with an acoustic slide drawl and then right back into this conglomerate of metal and soul.
It would, somehow, make sense to me that they hail from Richmond, VA. For no other reason that I know some brutal dudes/gals from there. Inter Arma feels like RIchmond. I’d say that Inter Arma is the best thing since Lamb of God to come from VA.
It’s really interesting how the band chooses to keep tracks together rather than separate the tonal shifts in songs. It makes for the journey appeal. You’re on a long fucking walk and the scenes change, but the destination remains the same. You’re walking one path. One path of fucking great times. Sky Burial sways with the big simple hits of Harvey Milk and The Melvins to an At the Gates fury to the post-hardcore guitar chop of Coalesce or Buried Inside, to the mind bending simplistic heaviness of Eagle Twin.
I must admit, the only song that didn’t kick complete ass for me is the track, “The Long Road Home”, and only in the last couple of minutes, for no other reason than that I thought the drums could be a little different. The first 8 minutes are transcendent. Then the last 2 minutes fall into a typical (atypical) shift. The double bass seems forced and ill-fitted to the smartness of the rest of a pilgrimage of exponential depth, each transition more enlightening then the next, and then it’s squashed with the sounds of familiarity. It appeared lazy (in the most effort driven way).
The best track on the album has to be “Westward.” It begins in this stomping kick drum, minimal chords, and serves as a sort of war chant for a good three minutes. It then breaks open into the field battle scene only to get one step more fucking epic with the most interesting music+lyrical syntax that I’ve EVER heard in a metal song. I can’t explain it. It’s like if static sounded like angels. Like, if I could hear the pitch of a dog whistle it would sound like the 6:35 minute mark of “Westward.” It’s got a weird frantic, math-like, Lightning Bolt-esque cadence that’s so fucking good I could cry.
That’s about it…an album so good I could cry.