Inter Arma, Sky Burial
Inter Arma’s Sky Burial is probably one of the best and most shattering metal records of the year, but it deserves a wider audience than that honor promises. Sky Burial ranges fearlessly across nearly 70 minutes, and in that time the band shudders through convulsive doom-metal; relaxes into an acoustic guitar and Hammond organ interlude that brings My Morning Jacket to mind; drills a single mind-obliterating one-note riff deep into the surface of the Earth; and climbs its way to ringing, climactic highs. There is something purifying about their blunt-knuckled, all-purpose fury: When I saw them live at SXSW, lead singer Mike Paparo never seemed to blink, and at the closing of their set, drummer T.J. Childers reached behind him and produced an enormous hunk of driftwood, which he simply held aloft for a few beats and then dropped. It seemed to say something about the spiritual journey of the band’s music; theirs is a harrowing gauntlet, meant to put you back in touch with something primal about yourself.