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Inter Arma, Windhand, Horseskull 

When: Fri., June 21, 9 p.m. 2013
Price: $8

There's nothing monolithic about Sky Burial, the second full-length offering from Richmond, Va., quintet Inter Arma. It's aggressive, yes. Sometimes oppressively so. It opens, in fact, with an icy black metal blizzard, guitars circling like wolves through the onslaught of blast beats and harsh, croaking vocals. But at the halfway point of album opener "The Survival Fires"—which is five minutes into it—the storm breaks. Chords resonate in open space, and the song propels itself with sparse drumming. The next track is an acoustic piece that feels almost comforting, even as its deliberate pacing casts a foreboding pall. This is as much heavy psychedelia as heavy metal, as much Hawkwind as Darkthrone; yet Inter Arma's wandering tone makes the record not only more varied than many of its peers but also more emotionally nuanced. Beauty succumbs to harsh squalls and vice versa, sometimes within the span of one song. (Granted, they often stretch past 10 minutes.) Doom frequently evokes the inevitable by suggesting we're already there; Sky Burial deepens the horror, reminding us that we're not—but we could arrive at any moment. In the bill's middle slot is Windhand, another Richmond band of doomsayers; they're more focused in their approach, haunting the chapel with lumbering riffs and distant, melodic vocals and bringing doom back to its Black Sabbath origins. Opening are Raleigh sludge-trudgers Horseskull, sprinters by comparison. —Bryan C Reed

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