After a lengthy hiatus, the mighty Enfold Darkness return, fronted by a new vocalist, delivering their long awaited sophomore effort. Technical, brutal, symphonic and most certainly blackened, Adversary Omnipotent is sure to dazzle fans of death metal looking for something fresh and yet familiar. Despite a lengthy departure from active duty, this new roster seems to have made the right decision to hunker down and perfect their band.
Littered with samples throughout its playtime, Adversary Omnipotent starts out with the cinematically gothic sounding “Awaken, Brak’tal O’Minn”, a short atmospheric piece that lulls the listener into submission just in time for the shredding death riffs of “Lair of the Ascended Masters”. This track wastes no time in clearly presenting itself as blackened death metal. It has intricately played tremolo passages and bright, sharp sounding guitars that are much more treble heavy than most other death metal acts who seem to rely on thicker sounding guitar tones.
This record may be just a little too blackened for my tastes (and I do love black metal) but I am just not crazy about the marriage of the two genres. There are a few acts out there that I think are brilliant at combining the elements of the two genres but Enfold Darkness just falls slightly short. I feel it may be the lack of brutality in place for melodic sense and songwriting that is throwing me the most. At times I am reminded of Abysmal Dawn, one of my absolute favourites in the genre, yet Enfold Darkness are still able to have an identifiable sound unique to themselves.
There are some remarkable moments on this release though, like around 2:15 in “Liberator of Mages”, a few crisp sparkling arpeggiated notes make for some nice variance and cool nuance. The guitar solo and lead work on this album is also stunning and Enfold Darkness leave nothing to be desired in terms of their technical prowess. Each track seems to display the playing skills of the band members within the first minute or so of each song, allowing for mountain-sized mathematically inclined riffs or furious lead work to crush everything within earshot.
“Banishment” probably has the best intro on the entire record, and it also quickly moves into a brief passage featuring clean guitars and smooth bass lines. This track in particular showcases the band’s penchant for writing songs that could almost fit into the Deathspell Omega catalogue. This is meant as a high compliment as DSO are one of the best songwriters on the planet in this writer’s opinion. The album may have too much lead work and although I love “Banishment” it is more than evident on this track as the balance of lead to rhythm playing is a bit off kilter.
The title track for “Adversary Omnipotent” starts off with heavy strings and an orchestral quality before the double bass drumming and technical, yet sludgy, guitars come onto the scene. Dual vocals make for a really unique sound and it actually works really well, never sounding too cluttered or confused. Driving riffs and drums continue to pummel the listener with savage riffs and glacial chords. Strong, well played gravity blasts are sure to make any fan of extreme music happy as the drumming is one of the best elements of this entire record and some of the best drumming in death metal releases in 2017.
Undoubtedly Enfold Darkness took the time to find the right replacement and to make sure all of its players learned how to make the most of their strengths. It’s also clear that they took the proper time required to conceive this record and execute it, delivering a crushing return for tech death worshippers. Competent vocals lead strong guitar lines, drumming and impressive bass work, and in fact, the bass lines are hard to top, as proven during the wonderful low end work in the outro for “Terror of a Perilous Quest”. There is something for everyone on this album, and it would be a real shame to see it be passed up for bigger, less relevant records.