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Canada has a penchant for producing bands playing the now famous war metal genre, with Blasphemy being the pioneering band playing this form of black/death metal, with their personal dirty touch added to produce what we now know as war metal. Unsurprisingly then, fellow countrymen Adversarial have chosen to play metal in similar veins as their predecessors.
After their highly acclaimed 2008 demo and debut full length last year, Adversarial is back once more with their new EP, Prophetic Plain of Abyssal Revelation, featuring songs from the Thralls demo era and 3 previously unreleased tracks (including Archgoat and Incantation cover songs). Before going on further, perhaps it is best to include a disclaimer that this EP is the first material that I have ever heard from the band, so there won't be any comparisons to the original demo from 2008.
The album opens with Scourge of a World Ablaze, which starts off with an acoustic guitar passage before the chaos falls unto the listener with the raw and dirty production and crushing riffs. The usage of acoustic passages such as those on the opening track will not be the only one as Adversarial constantly use them throughout the album to provide the haunting atmosphere in the music.
As the chaos begins, the first thing that one notices is C.S.'s vocals: deep guttural growls (similar to most brutal death metal bands), pierced by the occasional higher pitched shrieks. The music is also backed by a competent rhythmic section, with drummer E.K. hitting the snare relentlessly and forcing the band to go into breakneck speed with his machine-gun speed double bass drumming. The occasional guitar solo such as on the track Thralls provide a breath of fresh air in the heavy atmosphere. However, the bass guitar is overshadowed on the album, yet somehow the album does not falter because of this, and perhaps it could have been the result of having an album as raw as this.
With the title track, the band displays another style of production quality, this time having the song produced with the lower end of the spectrum mixed lower, having a more trebly production and this certainly has an impact on the music as the drumming is now more crisp and the guitar tones more sharp. While this provides another type of experience to Adversarial's music, whether one prefers this or the previous bassy/muddy production is ultimately up to one's personal preferences.
Also, on the unreleased track, Impending Eternal Darkness, C.S. chooses a different approach towards his vocals, one that is more decipherable and more reminiscent of Blasphemy's Nocturnal Grave Desecrator And Black Winds, and the overall music more reminiscent of the usual war metal with the more chaotic riffs and songwriting.
The personal highlight on the EP is the cover of Archgoat's The Light-Devouring Darkness, one of my favourite tracks by Archgoat. While the band's originals have been pretty much enjoyable, the EP slightly falters with this cover, as the song becomes slightly unrecognisable initially because of the increased tempo and the slightly chaotic riffing. C.S.'s vocal style, while trying to emulate Archgoat's Lord Angelslayer, is less of a drawl (such as on the parts where he goes "the light-devouring darkness...") and this provides a different touch to the song. It was also noticed that it is on this track that the bass guitar is particularly audible as well.
Overall though, an enjoyable EP and it leaves me impatient for the next album of the band to be released.
With last year's debut All Idols Fall Before the Hammer still fresh on the tongues of serpents and the ears of an unsuspecting populace, Canada's Adversarial have struck yet again, this time with a solid fan package through Dark Descent Records. Prophetic Plain of Abyssal Revelation collects the band's original Thralls demo (2008) in its entirety, plus a pair of covers, a new studio track and another gem from the vaults. If you're enamored of the full-length, then this material should certainly appeal to you, with only one redundancy ("Scourge of a World Ablaze") that is better experienced in the bolder incarnation of All Idols, though having this demo version available serves the purpose of completion.
The three demo tracks are rougher than the full-length, to be expected, but they're quite good, from the clean, creepy intros to the band's rifling accumulation of Morbid Angel's frenzied speed, whipping up infernal dust storms through their strict velocity. Most of this earlier material is pure, lightning death metal, but it has some black influence in the rasped vocals, those these are neither as prominent or well-executed as the gutturals. "Thralls" would be my favorite of the three, for the brilliant opening sequence that transforms into another hyperactive attack. The title track to this collection, "Prophetic Plain of Abyssal Revelation", was recorded in the same period, and has a similar structure, with a frightening, clean intro that is soon eclipsed by spastic, blasting madness, and I really love how the vocals resonate over the opening riffs. Fans of breakneck death like Hate Eternal, Posthumous Blasphemer and so forth will want to take note of this.
The cover songs included are of Archgoat's "The Light-Devouring Darkness" (from the album of the same name) and Incantation's "A Once Holy Throne" (from the 2002 album Blasphemy), both interesting selections of a more recent nature. The Archgoat is rugged and passable, but I definitely enjoyed "A Once Holy Throne", which creates a glorious change of pace for this release, slow and majestic, dire rhythms processed below the cavernous vocals. The new track, "Impending Eternal Blackness" is likewise quite good, with some moody melodic depth that morphs into a grinding, blasting vortex of diabolism, comparable in quality to the material on the full-length. Nothing mind numbing or enormously memorable, mind you, but very apt to impress fans of the raw Canadian legends like Blasphemy or Revenge, albeit with an added level of intricacy. In short, if you found All Idols Fall Before the Hammer fitting enough for your collection, then there's no reason to hold out on this.