When listening to Inter Arma’s fourth full-length album Sulphur English, it’s made immediately clear that the band is leaning more into the death/doom aspects of their sound. “A Waxen Sea” and “Citadel” still place importance on atmosphere, but it’s seen through a cavernous lens with deep sludgy chugs, blasting drums, and low gutturals. The only signs of melody come with the leads and solos, though these come contorted and writhing in agony.
However, signs of their more dynamic nature eventually manifest. “Howling Lands” takes things in a ritualistic direction as an intricate tribal beat gives way to imposing chords and vocals that alternate between high shrieks and righteous bellows. These atmospheric elements are then put to more melodic use on “Stillness,” which sees a smoother buildup thanks to the swelling acoustic/electric guitar work, steady beat, and layered cleans.
Once the piano on “Observances of the Path” clears, the album’s remaining songs dive into full-on post-metal abstraction. “Blood on the Lupines” is the strongest track of this segment, ushering in the album’s most transcendent sequence as its clean ambiance is counteracted by crushing chords and growls without deviating from the slowly crawling tempo. The title track ends the cycle in the extreme fashion that it began, albeit with the doom influence playing a more prominent role.
Overall, Sulphur English sets itself apart as Inter Arma’s heaviest album so far while retaining their high standard of quality. Like 2013’s Sky Burial and 2016’s Paradise Gallows before it, the hour-plus runtime is rather daunting but ultimately put to strong use. It is less melodic and ambiently inclined than its predecessors, but it’s impressive how the movements between different styles help things flow just as smoothly. Those with the patience to see it through will most certainly be rewarded.
“Blood on the Lupines”