Review Summary: Death, Endless Riffs, and The Black Knife of Nihilism
Think to yourself: what three things matter most to create a quality death metal album" While there are numerous factors that come to mind that could answer the question, the three that matter most to me are the riffs, the atmosphere and the overall engagement the record brings to the listener. Get all three of these areas covered on an album and you got yourself a death metal release worth listening to. However, not all bands can meet these three criteria. Some only know how to meet only one or two of the three areas, leaving with a sort of emptiness to the recording. While some bands have trouble their whole career with this, Adversarial had all three under control from the get go.
Currently signed to the label Dark Descent, Adversarial is a blackened death metal outfit that has shown off some great material over recent years. Their debut, All Idols Fall Before The Hammer was an absolute rampage of raw and filthy death metal. However, it divided listeners with its decisions in production such as the infamous PING of the snare drum on the album. Even with that, Adversarial managed to check off the three points on their debut, which is quite the achievement. Two splits and one EP later, Adversarial return with their second full-length album, Death, Endless Nothing and the Black Knife of Nihilism. So, how does it fare"
To make a long story short, Adversarial once again cover the riffs, atmosphere and engagement factor but this time with and apparent maturity and progression as a band.
The riff is a powerful and essential component to songwriting in extreme music or even guitar based music in general. Writing or crafting one that hits a certain chord with listeners is a hard enough thing to do, but creating a plethora of engaging riffs following one after another for the entire runtime of a record is truly an astonishing achievement. On D.E.N.A.T.B.K.O.N., Adversarial does exactly that. The riffs here cover almost the entire spectrum of death metal tone wise, ranging from dissonant and pummeling such as in the first track, “Dissenting the Waking Shell” to the atmospheric and even at times catchy guitar work in tracks such as “Eonik Spiritual Warfare” and “Lone Wresting Hymns to the Warmoon of Chaos.” The sheer quantity of hard-hitting guitar licks is almost too much to take in, making multiple listens a good idea to be able to absorb everything.
In addition to expertly crafted riffs, Adversarial utilize an atmosphere that is both hellish and aggressive. For the majority of the album, the listener is subjected to a frenzy of aggression powered by the aforementioned guitar work, pounding percussion, and a dread drenched dissonance that all comes together to create a sonic environment where not even a sliver of light is present. The atmosphere is undeniably hellish yet what makes this truly impressive is that Adversarial create this atmosphere with their instruments alone, save for the aptly named track “Interlude”. Even then, the band conveys this twisted soundscape through unsettling ambience, a chilling vocal sample and air sirens. In a way, it’s the farthest thing from an interlude as it doesn’t give the listener breathing room, but rather further drowns the listener in an aural abyss. The atmosphere of the album really is at its best in the latter half of the album, where tracks such as “Old Ruins Slumber in a Crushing Hatred of Man” thrive on a chilling ambiance similar to that of title track off Dead Congregation’s most recent album, Progulmation of the Fall.
Probably the most impressive factor that D.E.N.A.T.B.K.O.N. has going for it is exactly how engaging it is. While many remember their debut for its quirks, Adversarial have definitely matured sonically, creating an album where no element sticks out like a sore thumb, making the experience that even more enthralling absorbing. Believe me when I say that time flies when you listen to this. No tracks ever outdo the listener’s patience, neither being too long to keep ones attention nor to short to resonate with the listener. Once again the riffs and atmosphere are the stars of the show, contributing to the overall engagement this record has on the listener. The album is also shorter than All Idols Fall, making it a much more concise and focused record. While that might be all fine and good, probably the main problem with album is exactly how refined and consistent the record is. It’s definitely a filthy record but compared to All Idols Fall Before The Hammer, its missing that amateurish charm. Essentially the band’s maturity is a double-edged sword, choosing refinement over memorability. D.E.N.A.T.B.K.O.N.’s consistency to quality make it an overall better record than the debut but its high points didn’t reach those that All Idols Fall Before The Hammer had.
On D.E.N.A.T.B.K.O.N., Adversarial does away with all the possible frills or extras they could have added to the mix to create a raw death metal experience that cuts all of the bull***. Adversarial covers all three points like expert craftsmen leaving the listener enthralled and engaged throughout.