Adversarial erupts from nine years of silence with the searing firestorm of Solitude With the Eternal…

Release date: May 31, 2024 | Dark Descent Records | Facebook | Bandcamp

In the world of music, and metal in particular, nine years is a hell of a long time. We’ve seen entire scenes emerge, rise, stumble, and fall in that kind of time frame. Countless bands starting up, giving it their all, and just falling apart for one reason or another. Carefully honed careers shattering suddenly, and names that were the talk of the town ending up all but forgotten. In nine years, any empire a band builds can be reduced to dust. But for Canada’s Adversarial, nine years was just what they needed to craft a new monument to the ravages of time and hollowness of existence.

Adversarial has been around at varying degrees of visibility for a while now, having started up in Toronto around 2007. In that time they’ve managed 2 full- lengths and a handful of splits, EP’s, and demos. I caught on to their furious, tastefully dissonant black/death metal approach early on due to a college-aged appreciation of bands like Ulcerate or fellow Canadians Mitochodrion (who I’m desperately awaiting a new album from) leading to me searching out anything tagged ‘dissonant’. Compared to those bands, Adversarial is more openly savage and aggressive, spending less time on queasy atmospherics and more time on sandblasting a listener’s face into submission. But in those nine years since 2015’s Death, Endless Nothing and the Black Knife of Nihilism, I admittedly did forget about them. Fortunately, Solitude with the Eternal… is the kind of album that will make sure I don’t forget them again anytime soon.

Off the bat, it should be noted that Solitude with the Eternal… doesn’t rewrite Adversarial’s playbook in any dramatic way. Most of the album’s tight 31-minute runtime is dedicated to furiously charging forward with lacerating riffs, sickly dissonant leads, the show-stealing unceasing thunder of the drums, and deep guttural vocals punctuated by higher snarls at times. But it does feel like they’re weaving more subtly catchy elements into their sound and keeping their pacing more dynamic this time. Whether it’s a conscious decision by the band or just the effects of time showing ever so slightly (I’m certainly thinking it’s the former), Adversarial’s assault feels like it sticks to the memory better this time than it has in the past. And paired with a pitch-perfect, clear but dirty production, the album’s all the richer for it.

Particularly, I’d gladly say my own personal favorite track here is the longer and doomier “Crushed Into the Kingdom of Darkness”, which never really picks up to a pace quicker than a light jog by their standards. But the atmosphere it crafts is suffocatingly thick and dark, especially with the creepy atmospheric guitars adorning the track’s latter half and segments where the drums drop out entirely. Compare this to the immediate firestorm that follows with “Merging Within the Destroyer” (yes, every song title is utterly metal), and you can easily get a grasp on the dynamic approach that makes Solitude with the Eternal… work so well.

Probably the album’s greatest strength and biggest potential weakness is that Solitude With the Eternal… is one of those albums best experienced front to back. While a track like “Witness to the Eternal Light” or “Fanes At the Engur” is certain to contain passages that will demand attention, and Adversarial does indeed feel more diversified this time, the songs here aren’t extremely different in a noticeable way. Of course, for some people this isn’t going to be a problem at all, and the album is short enough to not exhaust most dedicated metalheads. But it can be a bit much if you’re not ready for a half hour of dissonant, nihilistic fury. Much like Ascended Dead’s savage masterwork from last year, Solitude With the Eternal… requires a tolerance for unrelenting chaos and a particular mindset walking in. But when the feeling is right, I do find it to be totally worth it.

Really, your opinion on Adversarial’s newest will come down to just that. If you love sheer sonic violence punctuated by more subdued moments of unease, I can’t imagine this album is going to steer you wrong. I’m not totally sure it’s going to be on my Albums of the Year list come December or not, but if it isn’t, it’s definitely not for lack of trying. Solitude With the Eternal… is a sonic firestorm of nihilistic rage, and in a great irony it’s utterly exhilarating and invigorating. Here’s hoping we don’t have to wait another nine years for more, but I certainly won’t forget Adversarial’s name this time either way.

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