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Seattle has become a pretty thriving black metal city, chartered by bands of the Puget Sound region that kick copious amounts of ass; Inquinok is one of them. I had some luck seeing this band live, and the experience is even better than the studio recordings. To headbang yourself stupid while the riffs stampede over the crowd is truly an experience, and you can relive that experience (almost) when hearing the music. To put it bluntly, it’s a bit of Emperor worship with hints of Seattle’s dreary atmosphere. The cover art alone paints a grim, sullen picture and puts you in the right state of mind when considering how you’ll leave from this encounter.
Snares and hats are a bit thin on the drums, but otherwise the playing is fantastic. Blast beats and such are the norm when it comes to fast-paced, gnarly tremolo action, but mixed-up patterns are also one in many. The drums sort of sound menacing; a powerful, evil force careening towards the light and engulfing it. The double bass is killer here; each kick you can feel knocking down layers of air.
Bass supports the guitars like a loyal hound dog, always there on the low end bringing a warm, comforting sound. It makes the music much more fulfilling and fervent with that deeper layer, even if it just follows the rhythm. The guitars themselves are the real deal, mostly tremolo and melodic, but sharp and somber. Entranced By Twilight's Gaze was a dark album with symphonic involvement, while this one thankfully puts more emphasis on the guitar lead to coat expressive, dispirited vitality (though not totally without the keys). The last track, “Divine Tragedy,” blends this style wonderfully like passionate fruits, making for avid melodies and a heartbreaking outro. The riffs are decent stuff, and their tone is more barbaric and corroded.
Main man Krelian sure knows how to write some captivating songs, and he has the vocals to back them up, too. Now that the music is more ferocious, his vocals serve an even better purpose: he does scream and growls, plus a bit of mixing the two. Scream you’ll hear more of, and they’re pretty clear and carnivorous. The growls compete well like Hecate Enthroned, going so low that you’d think there’s a demon supplying guest roars.
Compared to the debut, I’d say they are pretty equal. While I do prefer the keys as a rare supporting role, it had a charm on the debut that makes that one lovable, too. I can identify with that one more because I bought it while at their concert, thus headbanging to the band with the CD in my jacket pocket. This one has a stronger, less symphonic sound that’ll please more fans, though, but they’re both strong offerings. Inquinok I’d group as part of the Puget Sound black metal triangle with Ceremonial Castings and Wolves In The Throne Room – all three offer a different approach to what our scene shines.