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The Adversary of Metal - 0%

Kruel, August 21st, 2008

In short, this is terrible music that alternates between boring and annoying. This sucks. This is offensive. If you are not convinced to avoid this crap, then you should read below.

There are some guitar riffs that are technically passable as metal, just there to ensure that this album will be considered metal by people. Technically metal, but nothing that really makes you feel metal. Most of the riffs sound like heavy metal riffs played in a technical way, with some elongated bars and stop-starts, or prog metal riffs. They are very bad, and are delivered in an utterly powerless guitar tone - almost as powerless as distorted guitars can get. Also, I really fail to hear ANY black metal here. There are a few tremolo riffs, but they are hardly prominent, and nor are they really black metal tremolo riffs at all. There is one very noticeable tremolo riff that keeps appearing again and again (irritatingly so) in And He Shall Walk In Empty Places, but that riff is so sugary-sweet that it sounds more like something I would expect to hear outside on a snowy Christmas Eve than anything even remotely resembling black metal. While there isn't any good riff, under-verse riffs in particular are much worse than riffs that are played alone. It seems like Ihsahn put zero effort in them, knowing full well that the synths and his vocals are going to bury them anyway. The problem is, he forgot about his own calculations and used those under-verse riffs even in parts without the vocals, revealing just how bad those riffs are. The bigger problem yet is that his vocals are absolutely annoying.

Now, before I go on about the famous King Diamond-styled falsettos, I will first mention that his harsh vocals, which are really only half harsh, are really annoying. Half harsh, as in what a death/thrash vocalist might sound like, except that he lacks any sort of power or skill or aggression or whatever trait that is metal that good death/thrash vocalists would possess. He tries really hard, too, making the listener feel some sort of sympathy - which eventually develops into anger. I literally laughed my ass off when I heard him go "Uhh!!" before breaking into a half-assed "riff break." The entirety of the harsh vocal business here can only be interpreted as a parody of extreme metal vocals. And the vocals are annoyingly high in the mix and sound very close to the listener, making matters worse.

Then of course, there are the all too famous clean vocals that sound like a parody of Kind Diamond. If all the annoying and boring music were a death sentence, then this is the execution of the said sentence, marking the death of everything that could have appeared to have the tiniest chance of salvaging the album from utter failure. These vocals make you shudder just by being so awfully bad. And he shows no sense of self-discipline at all. While the harsh vocals are still annoying as hell, he decides to use these even worse clean vocals at least as much as, if not more than, the harsh vocals.

And the way in which these vocals are used are the absolute worst one can think of. This is where The Adversary reveals itself as a full-fledged enemy of metal, if the previous hints did not convince you that it is. The slow, mellow sections with synths that attempts to appear epic, but instead sound like... uh... I haven't heard enough pop to actually compare these to it, but these sure as hell feel fucking cheesy and poppy. These parts are not even technically passable as metal when the drums finally decide to fuck off for a moment. In fact, these parts are so un-metal to the point where they cease to be merely not metal, but anti-metal. Of course, not being metal may not entail suckage, but these are bad anyway, viewed from any perspective, and especially offensive to the metal ears. And these parts are abundant; to exaggerate a bit, about half the album is fucking unmetal annoyance. Sometimes these are even used as choruses, and the last song, which is the longest track, is mellow for the most part. Oh, and the fucking "Will you love me now?" part in the song titled just like that. I know that it isn't a "love song" type of thing, but still, it is so damn ludicrous.

This is supposed to be progressive, but it is only "progressive" in the sense that it borrows very superficially from the already quite superficial progressive metal than actually doing anything progressive. This does not bring anything new to the table (not that doing so would have increased the musical value of this album by 0.1%). One could make a case for this album pushing the boundaries of annoyance, but sorry, I don't count that as progress. Superficial "progressiveness," such as technical riffs and attempts at being epic are pretty much as progressive as this gets. The level of superficiality reaches its maximum with a part in Homecoming which sounds like it is lifted directly from a Spiral Architect song. Ripping off a prog metal riff is pretty progressive, right? Not really. And the songs - nothing really progresses; rather than progressing, the songs actually regress into those silly mellow parts just when one thinks the song is making some infinitesimal bit of progress. Most of the parts each irrelevant from another are at least connected in some sort of transition so that there is little abrupt ending which would have brought about a sense of randomness that comes from disjunction. However, this is still not a good thing because even though the parts are connected, the listener feels deceived in a way because connecting the parts does not stop them from being irrelevant from one another. So, the sense of randomness is still kept, and the listener still goes "what the fuck am I listening to?"

To quote a wise man, "either you wish you had a time machine to kick Ihsahn's mother in the stomach during pregnancy, or you will be cast out as an enemy of metal." Ihsahn undid everything good he has ever done, and now with this album he has finally crowned himself as The Adversary of Metal. This should either be forgotten completely, or be remembered forever as perfect example of how NOT to make a metal album.