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Emperor was probably the first black metal band I fell in love with. When I started to take guitar playing seriously, I eventually found myself learning Emperor songs from the tab book Ihsahn wrote. The songs in there were some of the most helpful (if not, the most helpful) songs in my development as a guitar player.
However, no album by Emperor can come close to how awesome this album is. Ihsahn outdid himself in every way possible to convey his emotions. Every song is perfect, and even if Ihsahn is full of himself he damn well deserves to be, he really is the genius he claims to be.
The album starts with 'Invocation,' a great black metal(ish) piece (a lot of songs are going to be black metalish due to how many other overtones from progressive, power, death, and thrash metal that are on the album) that sets the mood for the album. It's one of the best songs on the album and a great way to start off The Adversary.
'Called by the Fire,' while having lots of extreme metal overtones, is more reminiscent of old school heavy metal than anything else. 'Citizen' breaks the upbeat mood set by 'Called by the Fire' and tears it down with an angry atmosphere to be interrupted by a disillusioned piano/guitar interlude. 'Homecoming' starts off with a hectic riff, and then changes into a very warm, homely song very quickly. However, throughout the song you can't help but feel that the song itself is not actually as soft as it appears and after about 3 minutes it returns to the hectic riff that started it.
'Astera Ton Proinon' is probably the weakest track on here, but that doesn't say anything because it's still a great, powerful song, with a rather awesome guitar solo near the end. 'Panem Et Circenses' reminds me of classical music for some reason, while never actually sounding like it. You have to hear it to understand where I'm coming from on this.
And now, the best track on the album. 'And He Shall Walk In Empty Places' has a damn catchy riff at the beginning that drags you in and only gets more intense throughout the piece. If every other song on this album was gold, this song would be diamonds.
'Will You Love Me Now?' is a surprising bitter song, as the title wouldn't expect you to believe. And 'The Pain Is Still Mine' is an epic closer track, starting out with some melancholic keyboard work before going into an equally depressing symphonic metal section. It turns more operatic as it goes on, relying heavily on the keyboards and vocals, though it has it's fair share of metal sections, and a pretty cool solo too. It's a fine track, and a great one to close this amazing album.
While Emperor is a damn fine band, and still one of my favorite bands ever, I can't listen to them the same way again after hearing this album. Ihsahn really outdid himself.