Written By: Tim Bannock
Label: Trustkill – Rating:
The thunder of drums have been unleashed! Adversary’s Singularity is a pummeling debut that will have you crying for Excedrin with it’s up-front-and-center bass drum assault, but you’ll also be crying to hear their next album because there’s just not enough material on this disc to sate your metallic appetites. This is a great first album for a band to have despite the over-the-top bass drum sound, as the band displays great chops throughout and makes no mistakes. If a bit by-the-book, Adversary’s got enough spit and vinegar in their veins to keep you coming back for more.
“Hedonist” is probably the perfect opening track: the double bass is absolutely relentless, so anyone looking for lighter fare (or who are sporting a head cold) will know to turn the disc off, while the rest of us begin the journey down death-thrash alley. Clearly inspired by the Gothenburg sound but with vocals and breakdown sections that scrape together the shattered pieces of metalcore bands left dead in this speed-metal wake, this first song is filled to brimming with great riffing and sweet solos.
The disc takes a turn very fast on second track The Grand Mistake, as well as several of the following tracks, applying Adversary’s more personalized touch to the genre. “…Mistake” and titular “Singularity” are more death-rock oriented, presenting harmonized solos and more of a rolling, head-banging groove. Some sing-songy screams show up too, followed by a second or two of clean vocals with a bluesy influence. All of this is a nice change of pace, but there’s something going on beneath the surface…
“In Vino Veritas” has more of this clean singing over some groovier crunch. And that’s when it hits: the clean singing doesn’t quite get off the ground, often hitting some flat notes. It doesn’t detract much, but it definitely stands out enough to raise an eyebrow. Upon hearing one track, All Things Heavy’s own Dave Brooks launched into a fine impression of a rickety old grandma and said “That’s right grandson! You should sing more! You have such a lovely voice.” If granny asks you to sing more, you sing more. That’s just how it is. But in this case, granny is best left to her own devices; Adversary’s clean singing is okay in parts, but the off-key notes are very noticeable and are a little too common on some tracks. A few rounds with a vocal coach and this won’t be an issue, but until then, it might be a good idea to back off, Sonny Jim.
Anyway, back to the CD! “Manifest Humility” is like an In Flames/Arch Enemy mashup that showcases some intense guitar work. I feel like some of it’s been done before, but maybe not quite this well. The song has some breaks that kick ass, and once again, if the clean singing was either pitched correctly or cut out altogether, this track would be a momentous jam. Its limitations drag it down, but not too far; cover the vocals under lots of bass and treble and you’ll be more than happy. More importantly, the death vocals on this track near the end are some of the most blistering on the album.
You get a lot more, too: the melodic instrumental “Ashes of Faith” with its great time changes and crazy fills; “Dying Art” is a direct In Flames rip-off, but a damn fine one; “The Romance of Lies” features guitar dueling that spins off into straight up death-thrash assualting; and finally some more off-key singing juxtaposed by some viscerally exciting growls. Tough call at times, but overall, this stuff is good.
I can’t stress enough that musically this is a great, blistering disc of deathy thrash metal, with some groovy licks and great instrumentation all around. The singer’s good, but he had to listen to Grams, to the detriment of several tracks. It’s never enough to kill the whole ordeal, and if you crank your music loud enough, you just won’t care. Don’t pass on this disc because of the faltering vocals: it accounts for like 2% of the album, so you’d be screwing yourself out of 98% killer material. Here’s a tip to avoid the bad vocals: learn the key he’s trying to sing in, and just belt out the lyrics louder. You won’t notice the difference, and it’ll make the whole thing a little more interactive.
Better than entering an air guitar contest, anyway!