Adversarial: Prophetic Plain of Abyssal Revelation

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Adversarial: Prophetic Plain of Abyssal Revelation
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Adversarial: Prophetic Plain of Abyssal Revelation
Black Metal, Death Metal
Dark Descent Records
March 17th, 2011
Release length: 36:48
Myspace
When it comes to Adversarial, there is no denying the brutality the band has. The only reason their debut album wound up not being so impressive was due to the rather poor audio quality it suffered from. Well, in the span of roughly one year, the band returns with their second full-length offering, Prophetic Plain of Abyssal Revelation. One would worry about the span of time between releases, except that this is a compilation EP of their previous material and new recordings. But, given the quality of their previous full-length, does this album hold up musically and in audio quality?

Prophetic Plain of Abyssel Revelation doesn’t really stray too far from the previous album’s more lo-fi sound, but it all just comes off a lot better in comparison, but could still do a few minor tweaks to make it a lot better. The only real issue here comes from the vocals being a bit too far back in the mix. But, at the same time it does work for what the band is going for, and the actual quality of the music and atmosphere. One of the things that sticks out here is that everything sounds analog circa late eighties cassette, but still clear enough that you could argue it’s a modern digital recording. There are times in songs where you can even hear what sounds like the audio dropping out, much like an old tape would have on it. This is largely because Prophetic Plain of Abyssal Revelation is actually a compilation that collects the band’s 2008 demo Thrall, and a few new recordings, so this would explain it. The instruments themselves do still sound great. The guitars are heavy, though far from crushing, but the bass really adds to that well enough to make it feel a lot less like a comprising release, and the drums do come through nice and loud with a decent volume on the cymbols, but echoing hollowed out snares against loud clicking bass kicks, offering a good variety and range to the instrument, allowing the music to be filled up nicely when the guitars alone are just not enough.

Aside that analog cassette vibe you get from the first few tracks for obvious reasons, Adversarial also throws a heavy atmosphere of chaos and dischord the listener’s way. The dismal setting is established right at the start of “Scourge of a World Ablaze” before the chaotic blast beats and intense guitar work start rattling the listener with punishing authority, almost like someone punching you square in the teeth and refusing to let up. The vocals for the most part are drowned out during this track, especially at the start, but honestly with such hard hitting music, the vocals are absolutely optional at that point. The energetic outburst of aggression doesn’t really seem to last at the full steam approach of “Scourge of a World Ablaze” sadly, but the songs still remain strong as you go along, and there are plenty of moments where the intensity can pick up. “A Hatred Tempered and Trialed” still comes out swinging at the listener, but it doesn’t feel like it strangles him or her in the midst of a physical assault. The furious music is still there and keeps the song going despite the less enthusiastic sound of the song, but vocally the fury is still there and can be felt through the whole song. This goes into a slightly overmodulated rhaspy scream that comes out of nowhere, but it fits with the effort being put forward in the first place. “Thralls” ends of being about the same, though there’s a stronger focus on blast beats and a deeper guttural vocal performance that manages to come through a little better then “Scourge of a World Ablaze” and works perfectly to create a brutalizing, soul crushing track.

With the band’s Thralls demo out of the way, the rest of the release can be looked at as all new material. However, the title track of this release, “Prophetic Plain of Abyssal Revelation,” is actually an unreleased track from the Thralls demo session, and it’s a wonder why the song was omitted in the first place. Aside a dramatic difference in the volume of the audio, the song itself holds that same intense energy “Scourge of a World Ablaze” has, and feels right at home on this release. While not any more impressive then the other three tracks, it’s great to get to hear this song and have it finally made available instead of just sitting on the cutting room floor. The gutturals here are much deeper and match the far more intense sound the band is going for, though they do feel far more indecipherable and lean more on the Brutal Death Metal line of performances given how incoherent it does end up being, though the Black Metal presence in the band’s music is shown off in a far more traditional but absolutely aggressive manner at key times of the song which is something that doesn’t really happen anywhere else in the demo, or this release in general. Again the quality of the material changes when you get the newly recorded tracks, starting with “Impending Eternal Blackness.” The transition into this from the title track, however, is rather abrupt, and given how well everything flowed, this little roadbump does kind of change the tone of things a bit despite the cleaner, modern quality that feels a lot tighter, more intense, and far more brutal. This track’s non-stop assault features the same further-in-the-mix vocal approach, but a rhaspier approach this time compared to the gutturals that adorned the four previous tracks and worked so well with the brutality of the music. While this still sounds good and seems to cater slightly more to a Black Metal impression on the Death Metal material, you sit through the release wishing that it was a far deeper performance instead.

Finally the EP comes to it’s close with two newly recorded cover tracks, and the first of which actually comes as a bit of a surprise. “The Light-Devouring Darkness,” originally composed by Archgoat, finds itself planted towards the end of the release and welcomes back the gutturals once more. The cover itself is enjoyable and sticks pretty close to the original, all the while finding the band’s more chaotic and rawer sound dispersed throughout. This leads into the cover of the Incantation track “A Once Holy Throne,” and it’s slower pace is handled well, but the song itself ends up being a little boring considering the audio quality cannot properly catch that crushing atmosphere that makes these type of songs so great in the first place.

Overall, this little compilation EP of Adversarial‘s past and present makes for a great companion piece if you missed out on the band’s demo. The inclusion of the omitted track from Thralls, as well as the new recorded track are nice to have, and even the covers are alright though “A Once Holy Throne” just doesn’t pack the same impact the original has. It’s hard to believe the audio quality here is better then their debut full-length that dropped two years after the demo that comprises this release, but there’s nothing you can do about that except sit back and let Adversarial assault you with their music while you just sit back and take it.

01. Scourge of a World Ablaze – 5:26
02. A Hatred Tenpered and Trialed – 3:42
03. Thralls – 5:30
04. Prophetic Plain of Abyssal Revelation – 4:10
05. Impending Eternal Blackness – 4:33
06. The Light-Devouring Darkness (Archgoat cover) – 2:57
07. A Once Holy Throne (Incantation cover) – 3:01
Overall Score: 8.5/10


Digital review copy of this release provided by Dark Descent Records via Clawhammer PR.