When Inexorum’s debut, Lore of the Lakes, came out of nowhere two years ago, it quickly made an impression with its towering, majestic walls of melodic black metal noise.
Inexorum mastermind Carl Skildum, who hails from Minneapolis, Minnesota, wasn’t exactly an unknown quantity even then. He’s the vocalist and guitarist for death metal band Antiverse, as well as a member of the live iteration of medieval metal band Obsequiae. Skildum’s only cohort in Inexorum, Matthew Kirkwold, is also a member of Antiverse and the Obsequiae live band.
Still, Skildum waited to see how Lore of the Lakes would be received before he started writing its followup, Moonlit Navigation, which came out in June on Gilead Media.
“After the first one came out, I was sort of waiting to see if it was going to be something that anybody cared about, and I didn’t even want to start writing until after it came out,” he says.
“It’s not like it’s a huge thing but it made a difference to a few people, so that kind of made me feel like, okay, I have more in me and want to get going,” Skildum adds, with genuine modesty in true Midwesterner style.
If anything, Moonlit Navigation takes everything that was great about Lore of the Lakes, particularly the layered, textural guitars, and dials it up even further. Skildum is very up front about drawing on the early to mid-’90s melodic extreme metal scenes – fostered by labels like Necropolis Records in the U.S., and Sweden’s Wrong Again Records and No Fashion Records – when composing for Inexorum.
But Inexorum never sounds like a throwback, and that’s more true than ever on Moonlit Navigation, which takes Skildum’s ’90s influences and turns them into something thoroughly fresh and modern-sounding.
“The influence is really in just saying ‘Alright, how many guitars can I stack into this part to make it sound as orchestral as possible while still being nothing but guitars?’” he says.
It’s not always easy to achieve the sound Skildum hears in his head. At a couple points, such as at the beginning of title track (and lead single) “Moonlit Navigation,” and at the end of album closer “In Desperate Times,” Skildum is weaving seven distinct guitar parts together – no mean feat if you want to retain any sense of clarity in the mix.
But Kirkwold, who plays bass in addition to producing the album, says that his job is made easier by the fact that Skildum is particularly adept at composing numerous melodic lines for guitar that all work together rather than against each other.
“I’ve been making records for 20 years, and it’s a problem I’ve solved many times before,” he says. “But Carl is definitely the biggest challenge when it comes to assigning guitar parts, because there’s just so many. But they’re beautiful and they all work together. It’s almost like arranging for a big band or something like that, where every instrument has its timbre and its color and its placement within the arrangement.”
In similar fashion to how he treats his sonic influences, Skildum is trying to make something new and relevant to the modern world out of the typically dark perspective often conveyed by black metal.
“I don’t want to put all my negative feelings out there and try to process it through this music,” he says. “I want to come away feeling like I’m acknowledging that there’s hardship, and then looking at, how do we respond to it? For me, that’s a way to have this music be helpful and healing to create, and I hope that it helps other people, too, as trite as that might sound. I want it to be something that may give somebody a boost if they’re having a difficult time with something in their life.”
If Skildum is going to keep writing Inexorum records as long as they mean something to someone out there, we’ll surely see a follow-up to Moonlit Navigation sooner rather than later.