The Adversary

I‘ll admit, I’m not the biggest Emperor fan in the world as only Into the Nightside Eclipse still gets any regular play from me, however I can appreciate the artistry and elegance of the band’s last three efforts, especially the swansong Prometheus. Now as far as Ihsahn’s first post Emperor side project, Peccatum, I think I, like most, while enjoying Ihsahn and his wife spreading their creative wings, most were slightly underwhelmed by the project as well as disappointed that it wasn’t more Emperor-ish. Well enter Ihsahn’s new solo project and aided by drummer Aesgir Mickelson (Borknagar, Spiral Architect, Vintersorg), Emperor fans finally get an Emperor album not under the Emperor moniker.

Now I know the above statement is a broad generalization, but upon listening to The Adversary, it’s hard not to put the Emperor tag on much of the album’s musings. It also shows how instrumental Ihsahn was in creative many of the more progressive moments in Emperor’s later creative zenith. Of course, the frontman’s return to his Emperor rasp as well as the King Diamond-esque croon creates a lot of the Emperor lean, but also the weaving, progressive guitars, elegant, sweeping synths and overall sense of majesty does give The Adversary a palatable Emperor vibe. So much so, that if I had heard this with no idea who it was. I might have said it was a new Emperor album, and that the band had just taken yet another progressive step in their sound.

Regardless of how you view The Adversary, as an Emperor post script (as I did) or a unique entity, the fact remains that this is a superb piece of musical artistry that deserves a listen form any fan of elegant shades of the extreme and the eloquent. Overall, The Adversary is far more pure metal than Peccatum with far less experimentation. There’s far more twisting serpentine riffage, though there are plenty of more adventurous moments.

Onto the album itself. I defy any listener not to listen to the opening tones of ‘Invocation’, ‘Citizen’, ‘Panem Et Circenses’, ‘And He Shall Walk in Empty Places’ and the opening of the surprisingly catchy ‘Will You Love me Now” and not think Emperor with their volatile pacing (there are plenty of blastbeats) and labyrinthine tones. However, tracks like the vocally varied ‘Called by the Fire’, the gregarious ‘Homecoming’, mellow but grandiose ‘Astera Ton Proinon’, and the twisted operatics of closer ‘The Pain is still Mine’ sees Ihsahn step outside the Emperor box a little more, especially vocally and deliver more Peccatum -ish like hues of melancholy and experimentation.

There’s is something for both Emperor and Pecatum fans here, but ultimately The Adversary is for fans of finely crafted, masterfully delivered music that succumbs to no real genre, but has a deft appeal to a certain, lets say ‘Welkin’, fanbase.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
April 10th, 2006


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