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This is just...wow. I have never seen a shitty band change their act so quickly. What the fuck happened? Last time I checked, these guys were playing Suicide Silence-worshiping deathcore with insipid breakdowns and constant blasts with riffs so downtuned they were impossible to pick up. Now it's...old-school Cryptopsy with breakdowns, I guess. Think of it as a perfection of the formula used on The Unspoken King. And the odd thing is - it fucking works. This album is not great, no, but it's a good example of how deathcore should be - fast, brutal and relentless, with the occasional, djent-influenced, mid-pace breakdown.
Let me first call out this release on its shining element - the fucking speed of these compositions. It surpasses Brain Drill, Fleshgod Apocalypse - hell, I haven't heard death metal riffs this fast since Cryptopsy's None So Vile. The riffs themselves are slightly melodic tech-death numbers, and they're usually made faster by a constant snare beat behind them. Sometimes the band even combines deathcore chugs with these fast riffs (like at 1:23 in "Laceration Penetration", which is similar to the infamous blast riff in Cryptopsy's "Phobophile"), and despite all laws of how music should sound, the band makes these riffs work somehow. The breakdowns are still there, but mind you they're placed aptly in the music, in places where the pace needs to slow down a bit. Besides that, they're just fucking good. Most of them consist of polyrhythmic djent triplets, and they're altered every so slightly every time they're used, so they're never truly boring. Indeed, these are some of the best breakdowns I have heard in a long, long time.
As I've mentioned before, the drums are almost constantly blasting to give the music a feeling of speed. Thankfully, unlike some bands (certainly none whose names rhyme with Freshmod Uhknockalips) the snare isn't intrusive in the mix. It's rather quiet, actually...maybe a bit too quiet. Great drumwork on this album, regardless. As for the vocalist, Thy Art Is Murder ditched their old shitty Mitch Lucker clone, and in his place is a guy who can best be described as Glen Benton in constant low-growl mode with a slight Aussie accent. The man's vocals have none of the distorted gurgly nonsense that most of his contemporaries do. There are also brutal death metal-esque gurgles every now and then, often used on dual-track vocals on this album to accent whatever other vocals are going on at the time. Sadly, they're rather weak-sounding (but what was I to expect from a deathcore band?), but I suppose they make the cut. His screams are deathcore shrieks, but they shed away most of their whiny -core tone, and instead opt for a rather black metal-esque rasp. Neither the growls or screams are mindblowing (though I was impressed with the dual vocals at the start of "Soldiers of Immortality"), but they fit the music and aren't offensive either way.
My gripes about this album are small. For one, this release is very single-minded - two songs in, the listener knows more or less what the rest of the album is going to sound like. The production job could use a good amount of bass added to it, a la new Job for a Cowboy, and while I'm bitching about how things sound, the cymbals on the drumkit are hollow and annoying, particularly the china. Finally, the drums could be just a bit louder in the mix; the guitars seem to overpower them more often than not.
But those complaints are pretty much nitpicking when one considers the overall quality of this album. I'm not sure if anyone was expecting this from the people who released Infinite Death and presumably got egged off every gig they tried to play. This is exactly how The Unspoken King should have sounded, and if you don't mind continuing to label Cryptopsy as a deathcore band, feel free to think of The Adversary as a muscial progression from that album. All in all, this is a great technical death metal album with some nice, legitimately catchy breakdowns, and I'd recommend it to fans of Brain Drill, new Job for a Cowboy, and Origin. I'd also recommend it to people who wanted to find a reason to stop mocking one of the shittiest deathcore bands to ever exist.