If Minot had been given an ultimatum – to construct as hefty an instrumental album as is humanly possible or be unceremoniously fed to the hounds – I would not be surprised to learn that they’d since gained control of their captors (and emancipated the hounds). Equal / Opposite is a menacing display of juxtaposition, daunting by way of its might but with the tension alleviated by the bounce in its step. The infiltration of sound is made resolute by its sturdiness, as though every note played and every drum struck is needing to permeate feet-thick concrete walls, yet there’s a fun and frantic quality that seeks to downplay the opposing terrors like a presentation-giver imagining his glaring peers stripped down to their whities.
But despite the coarse heights that the album reaches, it feels like Minot are always in complete control of the chaos. At any point you are but a moment away from shifting into hyperspace; it’s just that enough discipline is being exercised to ride out the rising pressure. Minot come across as simply not content to rest on their laurels and meet an apex quota, because their offerings aren’t bound by that need. Instead, as is adeptly displayed on opener ‘Allostatic Load‘, there’s a keenness to avoid the sort of needless monotony that only ever telegraphs a baseless burst of noise. It makes a point of traversing all terrains, the rhinoceros-hide drums acting as the caterpillar track as the screeching guitars fall like mortar fire, never allowing itself to stay in one place because it knows that a moving target is more difficult to hit. It wants you to have to earn your respite.
It’s true that the selling point of instrumental music is the ability to attach one’s own interpretations, so I won’t speak for Minot in this regard, but man does Equal / Opposite feel incredibly like a reaction to dystopia. It’s definitely a staple theme considering how effectively rock instruments can mimic the leer and lurch of abandoned hope, but what’s different here is that it’s the sense of reckless abandon that prevails above the dread and despondence. It bares a resemblance to the Half-Life franchise in that sense, a form of end-of-the-world stress relief whereby you can channel your frustrations through a crowbar as you cave in a headcrab. This is especially true of ‘Tharsis‘, which makes great use of dual guitars and seismic-shift drumming to propel the physical manifestation of its pent-up tension, or ‘The Horizon Problem‘, introduced by a G-Man-esque soliloquy before giving way to the twitching cracks, rumbles and unsettling beeps of malfunctioning machinery and the cawing siren of strained guitar utterances.
Ultimately, I think that Equal / Opposite’s true defining characteristic is its structure. Given that it never reserves itself for major moments, the whole operation feels bold and important, which means that the best track of the record is simply whichever one you’re listening to at the time. When it comes to the close of ‘White Castle Doctrine’, there’s no stuffed-in opulence to whet the insatiable appetite of unrepentant sound junkies – it ends as it should, in conjunction with all that came before it, a strapping exhibition of amplified intricacies built to withstand whatever cataclysm you might throw at it.