Moonlit Navigation

When it comes to Inexorum, I purchased Lore of the Lakes without hearing a single note, simply based off the description and the high praise of critics. While I did enjoy the album, I was kept from thoroughly enjoying it for one reason: electronic drums. In a lot of instances, they’re fine, barely noticeable, and do the job for which they exist. However, the ones on the album were very distracting for me. Keep in mind, that was my only disappointment with the album.

Fast forward to 2020 and the band has released a new album called Moonlit Navigation. From the home of the infamous Minneapolis Mangler comes this melodic black metal machine. The first thing I want to point out is that the drum sound I mentioned before is gone. On this one, front man Carl Skildum, is listed also playing midi and acoustic drums. I must however mention some issues regarding the production. Not that it’s out of the ordinary for the style, but the vocals are a little too buried in the mix for my liking. There aren’t a lot of dynamics within the production itself, either. It’s borderline brick-walled in that almost everything is on the same level and turned up to 11.

My production qualms out of the way, let’s talk about the actual music. The first track is called “Ouroboric State.” The guitar is the star. It’s honestly very standard melodic black metal for a significant portion, but the guitars are interesting. However, as mentioned above, the production is an issue because they don’t stand out as much as they should. Some clean vocals come in with about a minute left in the track, but they don’t stay around long before we’re onto track 2.

That second track is the title track, “Moonlit Navigation.” While the guitars stand out a little more on this track, for the most part, the underlying riffing is still buried. With a little over a minute left, there is a good lead with some choral vocals in the background, which definitely stands out from the previous track. The slight dirge at the end, as I am choosing to call it, would be very headbang-able if the production had a little more impact. If this is the best song on the album and representative of it as a whole, I hope they don’t make like a virgin engaging in his first time and blow their load far too early.

They didn’t do the above, but it was still not an All Star performance. I want to briefly mention the best track on the album, an interlude called “Wild Magic,” which is track 7 of 8. It’s barely over a minute and serves as the only reprieve from the monotony of the rest of the proceedings.

After that last statement, my thoughts are likely clear. I hate to say it, guys, but I really don’t feel any different about Moonlit Navigation than I did Lore of the Lakes, which is why I only wrote about a handful of tracks. I found myself listening… and listening… and listening, trying to assure myself that I was just missing something. I don’t think it’s me. I think it’s the lack of strong hooks, the production, and a general sense of every song being basically the same. I want to like this album far more than I do. I don’t want to trash it by any means because I think there’s potential here. Maybe they’ll be able to tap into it next time.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by J Mays
July 28th, 2020


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