A windowless van, black as night, rolls idly to a stop in front of a concrete titan. A building with mostly boarded windows and a shady urban Charon who smokes his last cigarette right outside a red, iron door. The van shudders and puffs, powers down. The sliding door opens up and a band of misfits fall out like a haphazard choreography. Everyone goes inside. Now the building is haunted.
It is a long-winded manner to describe the aura of the latest offering of Inter Arma called Garbers Days Revisited. Inter Arma, on Relapse Records, decided to honor their favorite songs with an infusion of funeral dirges and fog. Drummer T.J. Childers says in an interview: “Hunter Thompson used to pound out pages of Ernest Hemingway on his typewriter just to get the feeling of what it’s like to write that way. The same can be said for anyone learning a great cover song.”
For what it’s worth, they pounded into the covers with a giant steel hammer. “Scarecrow” looms overhead in the intro of the album. Drums crackle the stratosphere with a beat as remarkable as the phantom of
Zeppelin’s “When The Levee Breaks.” They do Ministry justice as they use the sludgy riffs as a slow burn of death’s frequency.
The hammer smash misses early unfortunately. Neil Young’s “Southern Man” is a promising venture with occult-like band chants in the beginning. However, once the gate is opened into the tune, dynamic and tact disappear. Neil Young’s voice is a nuanced heartland sorcery. Inter Arma salted the crops and missed the purpose. The drummer plays carelessly too. TJ Childers plays certain passages over the course of the record as if he learned how to blast beat an hour before practice. Childers’ drum tone is muddy and overly Neolithic on Garbers Days Revisited.
The end of the record is divisive and ambitious. “Runnin’ Down A Dream” is spot-on but vocally is a misfire on Prince’s “Purple Rain”.
While a handful of songs on Garbers Days Revisited are impressively in their wheelhouse, the others can be left in a storage facility to be forgotten for another Garber Day.