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I suppose this means we're enemies now - 49%

Cheeses_Priced, December 24th, 2006

Recently I got to wondering what my old pals from Emperor were up to and I took the liberty of stealing this and the newest Zyklon album off of the internet.

It turns out my good buddy Ihsahn has picked up pretty much where he left off with Emperor and set about making a follow-up to Prometheus, which, as it happens, I was no fan of. It's not that I didn't want to like it, you know – nice to think of an old favorite bowing out with a arty, if more conventional (sic) album – but in retrospect it pretty much just sucked. They didn't go off the beaten path, they got derailed.

Adversary's likely the better album in my estimation, and that it's less keyboard-oriented – or even black metal oriented – than Prometheus just goes to show how badly that album was bogged down by its need to be Emperor-like. But enough about the past. There are some blast beats and some tremolo and Ihsahn's trademark “bleh!” vocals are in full effect, but truthfully, at its heart, this is a prog metal album.

The “metal” in prog metal is short for “heavy metal” - as opposed to death, black, what-have-you. Maybe Ihsahn's been pulling out those old Mercyful Fate discs. Nothing in the album quite proves it, but it seems plausible. One finds offensively anthemic choruses scattered here and there. They're not in every song, but still, yech.

The “prog” in prog metal is short for “progressive.” And what does that mean?

Well, let me put it this way. Have you ever heard some music that really impressed you, and only later, upon further reflection and perhaps multiple listens, realized how complex it was? Maybe it used a lot of weird time signatures, but you didn't notice because the music flowed so well? Or maybe the musicians were much better than you realized, but you didn't notice because their playing didn't draw attention to itself?

Well, basically, that's the opposite of progressive. If Ihsahn uses a weird time signature, then by God, he means for you to know it – there's no mistaking the stilted “technicality” of it. When he sets about about to blend black metal and heavy metal, you're going to hear the seams. And there's no way you're getting away from this album without hearing how well he does a King Diamond falsetto. I don't think anyone, anywhere, actually likes his King Diamond singing, but he's going to do it because he can and you're going to sit there and like it because you're open-minded.

I find the album listenable if not altogether engaging, but to paraphrase virtually everyone who will ever review this album: “definitely not for people who think Emperor peaked with Wrath of the Tyrant or anyone who doesn't approach music with an open mind.” More importantly, steer clear if the phrase “thinking man's metal” gives you hives, as well it should if you're no friend of self-conscious and demonstrative music.