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Adversary - "Singularity" (CD)

Adversary - "Singularity" CD cover image

"Singularity" track listing:

1. Hedonist
2. The Grand Mistake
3. Singularity
4. In Vino Veritas
5. Manifest Humility
6. By Apathy Undone
7. Ashes Of Faith
8. Dying Art
9.The Romance Of Lies
10. Wisdom In Regret

Reviewed by on October 7, 2009

"Beginning with the standard American extreme metal base and then departing from there, Adversary has created something unique. "

Adversary has been perfecting their sound and style since 2003, adding varied metal elements through the years leading up to their first full-length release, “Singularity.” When the disc first spins through the player, it seems as though the band takes the standard good-cop-bad-cop American extreme metal approach, but there is much more to the music than that. A few spins later it sounds like they are an In Flames tribute band, but that doesn’t hold for very long either. The band combines melodic death metal, hardcore, thrash, and black metal to excellent effect, and adds enough twists and turns to keep the music separate from their contemporaries.

Vocalist William Clapp is the main purveyor of the black metal. His main vocal mode is a blackened shriek and he uses this to excellent effect by covering each song with the black metal shroud. But Clapp also changes mode in short bursts to keep things fresh. “In Vino Veritas” starts with good clean vocals that drive the melody of the song, and then he swaps in a more rhythmic death metal growl, alternating with the clean vocals. Eventually he gets to his black metal shriek but the different vocal styles keep reappearing throughout, pulling the song in different directions. The clean vocals do get admittedly banal on a few songs, particularly when the melodic vocals appear for more than few bars at a stretch, but the diversity and quality make this is a small quibble.

The album is driven musically by guitarists Kenny Harrison and Brad Ryder. They do most of the heavy lifting in combining the death, hardcore, and thrash into a coherent whole. “Manifest Humility” shows their entire range. The song immediately grabs at the throat with a blasting intro that seemingly covers black, death, and thrash in ten seconds. The main verse riffs combine a melodic death metal rhythm guitar with a thrash lead, and the chorus shows the guitarists working together to create a melodic transfer to the song’s thrash bridge. The back end of the song settles into a down tuned thrash-fest with the requisite accompanying leads.

The instrumental “The Ashes of Faith” really shows the varied influences on Adversary’s music, and the guitars of Harrison and Ryder specifically. The song easily moves through atmospheric violins and synthesizers, death tremolo sections, warp speed black metal riffs, chunky thrash, and extended solo leads. The song keeps the melody established by the first solo close by, and the guitar pair keeps that in mind as they wail away on solo after solo and section after section, constantly building on the simple musical theme. While the song is easy to compare to Metallica’s instrumentals, it is musical, crisp and heavy, and the comparison is a positive one.

While the musical variety show is interesting and well done, the best songs feature fantastic production on Daniel Tidwell’s bass. Like most extreme metal releases the bass is not mixed evenly, taking a backseat to the guitars and vocals. But from time to time Tidwell comes alive, shaking the foundations of the music. Instead of a standard bass line, his thunder comes like a rolling earthquake underneath, a huge low-register groundswell of noise, making the steel foundations of the tower groan under the weight. And when Tidwell’s natural disaster bass rolls and rolls like ocean swells, the music really comes alive. “Dying Art,” “Hedonist,” and the title track are all standouts.

Beginning with the standard American extreme metal base and then departing from there, Adversary has created something unique. Using all of their stylistic influences across the entire album, they manage to keep the music fresh, instead of rehashing the same extreme-melodic combination that was popularized by Killswitch Engage and their brethren over the last decade. Adversary’s compositions do not need to lean on all influences evenly at any point; the simple juxtaposition of style combinations is gripping. Adversary combines melody, rhythm, tight songwriting, and extreme metal elements on “Singularity” into a heavy, and catchy, mix.

Highs: The extreme metal and catchy hooks play well together.

Lows: The drums are pretty standard and sterile.

Bottom line: A new take on American extreme metal that is quite welcome.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)