Windhand & Inter Arma In London: Live Review

By on 18 April 2014


Terrorizer commissioning ed Tom Dare went a bit loopy watching Inter Arma at Roadburn. So when they played London with doomsters Windhand a few days later, he went along to see if it was just a flash in the pan…



Chances are, if you live in London and have even a passing interest in doom, you’ve seen Witchsorrow by now. You know that Necroskull and co. are going to be cheerfully occult and horrible, full of well-loved heavy metal references (“screAM FOR ME LONDON!“) and with just the right amount of self-awareness. They’re still traditional and gloomy, but they successfully avoid pastiche and have a fun twinkle in the eye that’s probably breaking some kind of metal rule.

Inter Arma then prove a fucking force of nature. It has been a long, long time since a band got a reaction like this on their debut in the capital. Notoriously hard to impress, London is positively roaring approval by the end, and the Virginians are likely to have a much bigger venue yelling them on when they return. The reasons they’re quite so jaw-droppingly impressive are manifold. For one, you have the crushing riffs; Neurosis comparisons have done the rounds, but that’s only a fraction of their sound, with everything from ferocious black metal to space rock psychedelia finding its way in. For a second, you have frontman Mike Paparo, who lets rip with his thunderous roar with maniac intensity, glaring at the crowd. For a third, you have drummer T.J. Childers (wearing pink gym shorts and nothing else) whose constant fills, pace changes and sheer power remind you of pre-‘Crack The Skye’ Mastodon (although even they would find this level of intensity a challenge). This guy is nothing short of astonishing.

But mostly, it is the sheer spontaneous feel of it all, the sense that this is a group of musicians who are so in tune with each other that they can go off on a five-minute blackened sludge jam halfway through a song and not miss a beat. You feel watching Inter Arma that they need to do this, to get it out for their own well-being. It is something precious few bands to come along in the last decade can manage, and most of them were called Altar Of Plagues. Inter Arma are, on the basis of this show, Roadburn and that fantastic ‘Sky Burial’ record from last year, one of the most shit-hot bands in metal right now, and if there is any justice at all (and the drummer doesn’t break), big things await.

After that, it would be forgiveable for Windhand to look a bit shit, a bit like every death metal band that’s ever tried to follow Krisiun on stage. What saves Inter Arma’s hometown friends is three simple things: one, Windhand are really fucking good in their own right, with big, dirty, stoned riffs and killer tunes made out of them; two, singer Dorthia Cottrell has a serious set of pipes on her, and immediately has you paying attention to what she and her band are doing rather than what just finished; and third, the differences between the two are too stark to confuse them. Their inspiration is pretty obvious (Electric Wizard), but when it’s this well done, who cares? The crowd’s reacting to it tonight as well, exemplified by two gents in the front row – one who would struggle to get served at the bar, one who would have got served when Jus Oborn’s band was still called Lord Of Putrefaction – losing their shit and singing along with equal gusto.

Windhand are playing doom the way it should be played, and doing it seriously bloody well. They’re not out to change the world, and they’re not likely to. They’ll make a lot of riffhounds and dopesmokers very happy along the way, but revolutionary, they are not.

Inter Arma’s mixture of sludge and doom and Neurosis and black metal and Hawkwind and a raw primal energy all of their own should make every fucker who likes extreme music sit up and listen immediately. For the love of life, go and see them wherever and whenever you get the chance.

WORDS: Tom Dare

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