Richmond art-metal heavyweights Inter Arma brought their tour with death metal supergroup Withered to Los Angeles over the weekend, playing Complex in Glendale on July 23. We've got a review, as well as pics from their NYC show from earlier in the tour.

Local support was provided by doom outfit Wovoka, who kicked things off in appropriately brutal fashion. Wovoka trade in the kind of blown-out, scorched-earth noise/doom popularized by the likes of The Body recently. They were certainly powerful, although the small space of Complex and overwhelmingly loud volume didn't make for the clearest mix, and so the band was communicating in loudness and gesture for much of the set. All that said, I think that was kind of the idea, as Wovoka seemed hell-bent on ear-busting power above all else, and on that level they succeeded.

Next up was Withered, whose more technical blend of death, doom and black metal again would have benefitted from a different room or a clearer mix. But aside from that, their tightness and fury was palpable as they ripped through a fun, devil-horn throwing set that mostly featured material from their last two albums. They know when to throw out a well-timed blastbeat or dual-guitar riff when the moment calls for it, balancing brutality and fun with the skill of the seasoned professionals they are.

Inter Arma closed things out with the clear highlight of the evening. I hadn't seen these guys live since around the release of Sky Burial, and as good as I remember them being, it seemed like they had gone up a level on Saturday night. Purveyors of careful compositions and tightly wound exhibitions of tension and release, the power of those compositions is just so enhanced in a live setting. I already love their new album Paradise Gallows, and this was one of those rare, great times when I saw a band and immediately though, 'oh this is how I'm meant to experience this material.'

They opened with the Sky Burial 1-2 punch of "The Long Road Home" and "'sblood." Those two songs are such a powerful opening argument for what makes this band unique in a live setting. "The Long Road Home" is achingly beautiful, powerfully satisfying southern-inflected doom that I could play to your average Baroness fan and have them in tears. But going immediately into the primordial drum-murk of "'sblood" changes things drastically, with vocalist Mike Paparo (who has an amazing stage presence all around) screaming and shaking the mic like a man possessed and making the Swans comparisons not seem so far-fetched. The power of that material was, again, just enhanced in that setting.

After that they hit "An Archer in the Emptiness" and "Transfiguration" from Paradise Gallows, which were both absolutely huge, and that was it (they hit their recent trip to stonerville "The Summer Drones" as an encore). No wasted motion, no breaks between songs, just pure power and all-too-rare musical subtlety in an up-close setting. I was already a huge fan of Inter Arma and high hopes for the show, but I left seriously impressed with these dudes. This is a top-tier live band.

Check out some photos of their stop in NYC at Saint Vitus on July 8 in the gallery above.

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