review by: Pal Meentzen
At last the follow-up to Inquinok’s debut album, "Entranced by Twilight’s Gaze" from 2006 is here. In a way, things have changed and in other ways, things have remained just the same for this epic melodic black metal band from Seattle.
There’s been a thorough line-up change that has left only the guitarists, Krelian and Mordred, as original members. All the other cogs in the machinery have been replaced. On this new album, the music is fundamentally not that much different. It’s still in the vein of old Emperor, Dissection and old Satyricon. The growling vocals of Krelian, the dramatic, keyboard driven melodies with super fast blastbeats and not all too dominating, yet clearly present guitars with cold nordic undertones are all very recognizable.
This familiarity is hardly surprising, considering the fact that Immortal Dawn was recorded at the same location and handled by the same sound engineers (Jer Keller and Krelian). Fortunately, the cog change turns out to be an upgrade.
The songs on Immortal Dawn are much more aggressive and ferocious. Inquinok’s compositions weren’t too bad already, but when listening to this new material it seems like they are much more on top of their game.
New drummer Simon "Tormentor" proves to be quite an asset to the new Inquinok, judging from his amazingly precise footwork and lightning fast variations, aside from the usual blasty patterns. The bass drum sound in itself is more appealing this time. A track like "Triumphant" is a good example, showing a few very smart rhythmic alternations and heading towards a more progressive kind of black metal.
Previously, the guitars used to lean much more on the parts of the keyboards, but on this new one they are fortunately much less docile, making it overall a more intricate work to listen to. In fact, while still playing a great role in the music, there is much less emphasis on them this time, making all instruments much more in balance with each other.
Maybe in order to compensate for this there is a short but nice interlude on piano at midpoint. It gives a little break. Another song called "Bloodlines" begins with a base melody anchored by a harpsichord. Sometimes a harpsichord may conjure images of cheesy moments of the Addam’s Family or some creepy old vampire movie, but because it’s used only very briefly and subtly, it works really quite well.
Indeed, Inquinok is a band that sounds strangely European, and Immortal Dawn can easily compete with works of similar bands with a liking for H.P. Lovecraft stories.
At the time of writing it is reported that Inquinok has become a studio project of Krelian and a third album is in progress (Immortal Dawn was recorded in October 2007). Whether Krelian will succeed in surpassing the quality of this album will be one of the surprises of next year. (8/10)