Inter Arma – “Garbers Days Revisited” (Relapse Records)
Battle Helm Rating
Hot off last year’s “Sulphur English” release comes this 5th album from Virginian black / sludge / post / Southern band, Inter Arma. If some of the song titles look familiar, then that’s because “Garbers Days Revisited” is a covers release, recorded in between tours and named after the band’s former practice space. An integral part of Inter Arma since their beginnings, many of these songs have a direct lineage to the band having provided inspirational, new ideas during their formative years, while others have long been a staple in their live set. As such, “Southern Man” comes as little surprise given that as a whole, Inter Arma are massive Neil Young fans! Careful not to lose the spirit of the original, its soul is not just preserved, but enhanced by the thick guitar sound of Steven Russell and Trey Dalton, as is the authentic wailing solo while Mike Paparo’s banshee screams add a dark touch to the intense drumming of T.J. Childers – superb if I might say so. Going to the other extreme is ‘Hard Times’ by Cro-Mags, here keeping the raw, primordial aggression of Flanagan & Co, but touched by feedback, chorus shout outs and more power drumming from Childers to make it just as violent and savage as when I first heard the song back in 1986! With its frantic beat and chiming guitars, Hüsker Dü’s “Girl Who Lives On Heaven Hill” is given the black metal freeze through haunting screamo vocals from Paparo, Childer’s blasting drums and relentless cymbal work, while those timeless deep punk melodies are not forgotten and thankfully carried through by the guitars in between maintaining the raw riff intensity of Bob Mould. With other covers of Ministry, Venom, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers and Prince, “Garbers Days Revisited” provides both a deep insight into Inter Arma’s past, as well as a brilliant escape from the surreal circumstances of the present!