Richmond's Inter Arma is touring on the heels of its first Relapse release, Sky Burial. This five-strong juggernaut stirs the rusty discord of sludge and crust, the stutter and gallop of blast beats and the dense composition of prog into a heavy, heavy mix. The album led NPR metal critic Lars Gotrich to explore the pointlessness of expressing such complex yet worthwhile music with a heavily-hyphenated genre signifier. This is very smart music that's not easily reduced and deserves careful listens.
While Inter Arma's range covers nervy introspection and mountaintop transcendence, Earthling has a tighter focus. These Virginia metal smelters make space in hard-driving sludge for righteous guitar detours and pummeling breakdowns. Their own upcoming Dark Path LP is complex, too, populated with six cuts of surprisingly expansive mid-tempo pummel. Tracks such as "Pass Into Beyond" close with Iommi-esque soloing, while others apply the smoked-out guitar journeys central to early-'70s arena rock. With Wilmington's Salvacion. —Corbie Hill