Inter Arma played Cambridge – 11/6
To me, you can never really get enough Inter Arma. The band’s dense weaving of black, sludge, death and post-metal conveys a sense of scope unmatched by many a peer, and each of their three proper LPs of the past decade are rich and rewarding journeys worth taking again and again. Their live shows are also earth-rattling events that situate one in the eye of a howling storm of the band’s own making. I’d see them play constantly if I could, but alas, it’d been some time since Inter Arma’s last Boston gig (even setting the pandemic aside).
A long wait came to an end Saturday night for a few hundred revelers packed into Cambridge’s Middle East Upstairs. Ten o’clock doors did little dissuading, and the room was already buzzing when New York’s Artificial Brain took the stage for the sole opening slot. Cast minimally in an eerie green light, the band thrashed through a tight set of tech-death bangers that set an appropriately ominous tone.
As the Brain was breaking down and Inter Arma’s myriad gear going up, a sizable road case had to be wheeled in as an extender to hold up a monitor at stage front, teeing up a pretty handy visual metaphor for the outsized nature of the band’s sound for the rest of the night. Drummer T.J. Childers – whose primal, pummeling, rhythms form the backbone of said sound – fittingly took up a fair bit of that stage real estate with his imposing kit, all of which left vocalist Mike Paparo to stalk the platform’s edge, delivering a wild-eyed performance mere inches from the faces of the front row.
Heavy metal is, of course, magical in all of its live incarnations, but there is something unique and special about seeing a band so purely massive as Inter Arma in a room the size of a shoebox. It was a feeling I’d missed dearly, and the resulting set one of my favorites of 2021’s concert renaissance.
Check out a gallery of both band’s sets below.