Inter Arma Credit: Joey Wharton

Richmond quintet Inter Arma have just released their fourth full-length, Sulphur English (Relapse), and it is a monster. The band, who share three members with furious black-metal environmental avengers Bastard Sapling, bring a razor-sharp, savage edge to their lumbering, spine-crushing atmospheric doom. Unlike many superheavy slow bands, Inter Arma don’t make music that feels relaxing or somnambulant—the new album’s down-tempo passages, proggy space voyages, and acoustic interludes provide enough mystery and surprise to keep you on your toes before bringing you to your knees. Southern bands also tend to have a talent for bucolic horror, and in this case, it’s most apparent in the Nick Cave-like gravitas of the eerie “Blood on the Lupines.” The year is still young, but I already know that Sulphur English will make many “Best of 2019” lists when the time comes. Touring with Inter Arma are enigmatic Toronto black-metal trio Thantifaxath (the members prefer to stay anonymous), who have a powerful, distinctive, and captivating sound. Their 2017 EP, Void Masquerading as Matter (Dark Descent), is angular, cold, and claustrophobic, with something uncannily eldritch about the way its riffs and lines intersect at discomfiting angles—and the band’s well-developed sense of beauty only makes the music more fearsome and ominous.   v