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I believe that this album was created for Ihsahn himself if anyone. A thorough reflection of his life and his perception of the world. It draws influences from many aspects of extreme metal (whether it'd be black metal, post-black, thrash, or folk), then fuses it all together with an overall avant-garde feel to it. Some might say that this album almost serves as a sequel to Emperor's swansong, prometheus, but I think it is more of a focused version of prometheus and peccatum.
Needless to say, Ihsahn does everything on this album except for the drums, but he programmed all the drums beforehand then had Asgeir play it. The Adversary is a very guitar-oriented album while the drums do little more than giving it a backbone, nearly all of the melodies are created by the guitars with some synth layers here and there. This is a very rare quality in metal these days, since most bands tend to simply slam on the synths and let the guitar serve as a background substance. As for the vocals, well, any fans of emperor would pretty much know what to expect. Ihsahn's vocals are very high even for black metal standards and if you don't like them, don't worry, 'cause they tend to grow on you. The clean vocal layers on this album are probably one of my favorite things about it, they act as a driving force for many parts throughout the album whereas the absence of them would totally ruin the atmosphere. Also Kristoffer Rygg, one of my favorite vocalists, features on one of the tracks (homecoming). That alone, should herd some people toward this album.
The Adversary is a concept album, that means this is one of those albums where you have to sit your ass down and listen to the whole thing to really appreciate it. It is definitely not for someone who is looking for the "black metal" in emperor. Approach this album with an open mind and embrace what it has to offer.