Inter Arma aare one of those groups that excel at challenging listens. Each one of their records has been better than the last and have been consummate examples of the slow burn, each listen revealing more nuance and intricacy in the bludgeoning walls of sound. Sulphur English, at first, is no different in that respect. But displays the band with synthesizing and perhaps even perfecting the perfect alchemical mix of doom, black, and death metal into a cohesive bit of vibrant gold.

Inter Arma have been around long enough to not need much of an introduction, but for those of you not in the know, the band seems to be the heirs-apparent to the mantle Isis let down when that band took a decidedly more melodic route with In the Absence of Truth (not to mention their breakup, of course). A deeper, more death-metal inspired version of Neurosis, that is interestingly more akin to post-Isis group Sumac, the band has been on a roll releasing critically lauded records back to back to back. Paradise Gallows, their most recent release from 2016, was their best yet in my opinion as they embraced an ever more expansive sound. Sulphur English is the logical next step–a more honed and polished version of their best efforts to date.

It’s not all ups, however, as the record’s crushingly heavy first half does a bit of dragging the record down. Its not until “Howling Lands” that Sulphur English really hits its stride, encompassing a wide breadths of genres and allowing the songs space to breathe and have a swelling, sea-like rhythm and waves of sound and quiet. As “Stillness,” the absolute stand-out track of the album ebbs and flows, it takes on almost Tool-like magnitude. The kind of song best suited for stadiums. “The Atavist’s Meridian” and “Blood On the Lupines” are equally as measured and obliterating, the distant echoing black-metal vocals playing dynamically with the cookie monster death metal growls, all laced just ever so delicately with melodies and deep vocals akin to Cult Leader’s most recent effort A Patient Man.

This is one of the best records of the year thus far. While it starts a little slow, the end half of the record is a stellar effort that deserves recognition.