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U.S. Black Metal at it's Finest - 95%

Shadow_Throne, May 5th, 2006

I have been following this band since I checked out their demo a year ago. The demo had great songs but the production wasn't the greatest and I was interested in hearing a better version of the material. When I heard their album was released I had to check it out. Inquinok is a melodic black metal band from the U.S., which actually surprised me quite a bit when I found that out because they play in a very European style.

Entranced by Twilight's Gaze features ten tracks of majestic Black Metal brilliance. I find this band so intriguing because they aren’t the typical Back Metal band, in which they seem to combine different genres on top of their main black metal style. Half of the album is really dark and the other half is really more focused on the melodic. The fact that there is almost this two different direction thing going on within the music, it makes things pretty interesting because you don’t really know what the next track will be like when listening to the album for the first time. To me this is a good thing, some might frown on the fact that the album isn’t overly evil sounding at all times or that it isn’t totally raw black metal. The fact is this band seems to be more about writing great songs and that’s what it should be about, not to mention the musicianship is top notch, especially for black metal.

It’s hard to really point out standout tracks because each song has its great moments. “Lost in Dreams” seems to be the most accessible, as it is probably the catchiest song and softer sounding then the other tracks. For the black metal fan though, most will gravitate towards tracks like “Excidium” and “Emptiness upon the Throne”. Emptiness is the longest song on the album and is truly one of the best black metal songs I’ve ever heard. The song is epic and dark all the way through, with an excellent climax to the song at the end. The song features some great keyboard work as well, but it’s all while interweaving in between great guitar parts. One of the biggest things that separates Inquinok from most symphonic black metal out there is that they have guitar riffs, it’s the first and foremost thing in the music. Most Symphonic Black Metal bands out seem to focus mostly on the keyboards, but Inquinok seems to focus on writing great parts for both, reminiscent of another band we’ve all heard of called Emperor. Another thing that stands out is guitar solos, something almost completely absent from the Black Metal genre. The solos sound very thought out and well executed, especially in “Fields of Mourning”, and “Lost in Dreams”.

Overall this album is one of the best Black Metal albums I’ve heard in quite awhile, a great mix of songs to keep things interesting and some superb songwriting. Production wise this album is a lot better then most black metal bands I hear, still has a raw feel to it but it’s great for a bands first album. A good thing about this production is you can hear everything pretty clearly; the only thing that might be too low in the mix is the vocals as they get sort of lost at times. With all the garbage that is out there these days it's always nice to find an album that washes all the crap away and stands on its own. This album will be in heavy rotation for quite some time, all Hail Inquinok!