Inexorum – Equinox Vigil Review

Release date: June 17, 2022. Label: Gilead Media.
Minnesota’s Inexorum, now on album number three, offers a stirring example of the power of summoning feeling through form. The duo of Carl Skildum (guitars, vocals, keys, drum programming) and Matthew Kirkwold (bass, vocals) plays a heavily structured and almost impossibly precise style that lands somewhere between the eerily melodic black metal of Dissection and the melodic death metal of In Flames (circa Jester Race) and Dark Tranquillity (circa The Gallery), with elements of more American-sounding melodic black/death metal bands such as Nechochwen, Vex, or Panopticon sprinkled in as well. Far more important than who Inexorum might make you think about, though, is how these magical songs will make you feel.

The mood throughout Equinox Vigil is an entrancing mixture of wistfulness and determination. Inexorum channels intense emotions, but they do so without histrionics. This means that the songs bleed with aggression but not malevolence, sorrow but not despair. All elements of the band’s sound work beautifully together, but the primary audience for Inexorum continues to be anyone who loves to hear electric guitars doing awesome things. They are often stacked several layers deep, with a rich rhythm base, doubled or harmonized riffs and leads, and keenly reserved solos that sometimes only barely rise up from the rest of the sound bed. For evidence of these awesome things, check the beautiful solo on opening track “Creation Myth,” and then watch how right after – around the 3:18 mark – the guitars snake out into a sneaky little folk-inflected riff.

Carl Skildum has also been a live member of Obsequaie, so there are certain similarities to pick up on. Inexorum’s music, however, laces a whole lot more heavy metal swagger throughout these eight songs. The vocals are generally a satisfyingly venomous rasp, but at a few key points Inexorum brings in stirring clean vocals. The clean chorus that comes in towards the end of the title track, for example, brings the song to one of the album’s most potent climaxes, and on “Dark Sky Sanctuary” one might be reminded of Jake Rogers from Visigoth. Matthew Kirkwold’s bass takes a more leading role on “Secret Language,” drawing down the speed a little but filling it out with a sassier strut, while the next song, “Memoriae Sacrum,” is a perfect follow-up since it is probably the fastest, most aggressive song on the album.

Setting aside for a moment the airtight songwriting and overflowing melodic invention, the pure tone of the guitars is one of the most enchanting things here. If you crank the volume up and really sink down into the texture and the movement, it feels like a meticulously assembled, jewel-encrusted machine, as if you dove into the deep ocean or summited the clouds to find a whale of burnished chrome or an eagle of metallic emerald – just as fluid and instinctual as nature, but arcing gracefully as if driven by a city of pistons and circuitry.

I would be curious to hear Inexorum play with a live drummer, but in truth, the precision of the drum programming actually complements the band’s style perfectly. The programming occasionally dips into martial cadences, which lends the songs a regal feeling (see the opening of “On the Last Day” and the very conclusion of “Such Impossible Sights”). Across the board, though, the combination of relentless precision and unapologetic melodicism means that Inexorum shares a kinship, however unlikely, with Megadeth’s Rust in Peace or Melechesh’s Enki – albums that rampage with a wild-eyed intensity and barely contained electricity.

If you are reading these words right now, at this little corner of the internet, I suspect you might be a person who likes hearing electric guitars do awesome things. Equinox Vigil is more than up to the task of bowling you over with its intensity, but all of its craft, drive, precision, and melody somehow exceed the sum of its already impressive parts. The feeling that emerges from the experience of the album is one of reflecting on struggle and adversity but taking inspiration from the persistence of the human spirit. Get busted but stay lifted.

Posted by Dan Obstkrieg

Happily committed to the foolish pursuit of words about sounds. Not actually a dinosaur.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.