Thursday, 28 July 2011

Adversary - forgotten death metal jewel from Sweden

Of many death metal Swedish bands that were spawned in the beginning of the 90’s there are some that remained hardly remembered. These bands never managed to record an album and get more attention, but their demo tapes remained in few collections and so were saved from being completely forgotten. With the passing time these recordings could even be considered as cult and it’s a shame that some of the bands didn’t manage to come out of the abyss of death metal underground. Such band is ADVERSARY. Nowadays it’s hardly known. It’s a challenge to find any information on this group, not to mention to put the hands on one of their very few recordings. But ADVERSARY, formed in Sandviken, in about 1990 or 1991, is still in hearts of small group of dedicated diehards. There are few reasons. One is the musicians that played in this band. And the other one is the demo they recorded, which is one of the best Sweden has produced in that time, despite the enormous competition. As far as I know the band was formed in Sandviken by Henrik Ohlsson (drums) and David Larsson (bass), who were good schoolmates at the time. They soon added Joachim Claesson (gtr) and Jorgen Palmeby (vocals) to the line up. Niklas Rehn (gtr) joined the band as well, but didn’t stay in the line up for long. He was replaced by another friend of the band, Per Nilsson, with whom Henrik already tried to play before. Another Swedish lad, who’s been in ADVERSARY was Tor Adolfsson, who replaced Joachim after the second demo – and who played before in a band called ENCINED. Anyway, ADVERSARY debuted in 1990 with a demo called “The Blood of Those Who Failed”. Consisting four tracks (“The Blood Of Those Who Failed”, “Torn To Shreds”, “Dying Again”, “Outro: After The Rain”) it was typical debut of a band, who didn’t have much of an idea what the hell they’re doing. These guys were still learning how to play their instruments and definitely still looked for a sound. Also the soundguy in the studio didn’t know how to record a death metal demo at all, what resulted in putting a left bassdrum in a left speaker and a right one in the left speaker, unusual. The same line up – David, Jorgen, Joachim and Henrik – recorded also the second demo “Beyond Death” (two songs: “Twice Dead” and “Grim Vision”) in 1991. It was bit better produced, but still didn’t equal the best demos of the time. But the best of all what ADVERSARY did was the third and final demo, called “Remains of an Art Forgotten”. It was recorded already with Per in the line up and with Matti Karki from CARNAGE / DISMEMBER on second vocals. The band finally improved with the production, which was more than just decent as the demo was recorded at the famous SUNLIGHT Studio. And also the music started to evolve, became better composed and played and with consisted much more interesting riffs and structures. And Matti’s vocals were just brilliant. He was only a session vocalist, contacted by David Larsson. Funny thing is that it happened unplanned. DISMEMBER were shooting a video for “Soon to be Dead” and popped in to SUNLIGHT. He agreed to sing and did the vocals without any rehearsals or anything, simply screaming where he was told to. Unfortunately ADVERSARY didn’t catch the chance to do something more. After the third demo they started to record some rehearsals and constantly change the line ups, up to the point where only Henrik was left from the old line up, but soon also he decided to quit and joined band called LEGIA in 1993… And so ADVERSARY died, without motivation to carry on. Sad, but what a joy is to have a “Remains of an Art Forgotten” demo. Interestingly, many think that the band released also a demo called “Human Reality” in 1992, but that demo was recorded by different Swedish called ADVERSARY.

ADVERSARY members played in few well known Swedish bands later on:
Hendrik "Henka" Ohlsson was most productive as he recorded several albums: 1994 - LEGIA - Legia (album), 1996 - THEORY IN PRACTICE - Submissive (demo), 1996 - HAGEN CROWS - Hagen Crows (demo), 1997 - THEORY IN PRACTICE - Third Eye Function (album), 1998 - THEORY IN PRACTICE - The Armageddon Theories (album), 1998 - MUTANT - Eden Burnt To Ashes (demo), 1999 - MUTANT - The Aeonic Majesty (album), 2001 - THEORY IN PRACTICE - Colonizing The Sun (album), 2002 - PORRKESTERN - 100 Ggr. Bättre Live (album), 2003 - PORRKESTERN - Bara Sa Där Ända (demo), 2003 - ALTERED AEON - Light Creates Shadows (demo), 2004 - ALTERED AEON - Dispiritism (album), 2004 - SCAR SYMMETRY - Seeds Of Rebellion (demo), 2005 - SCAR SYMMETRY - Symmetric In Design (album), 2006 - SCAR SYMMETRY - Pitch Black Progress (album), 2007 - ALTERED AEON - Reborn As Gods (demo).
SCAR SYMMETRY is the most successful of all these bands. Per Nilsson also played in this band, as well as in ALTERED AEON, CATACOMB, THRAWN, WORLD BELOW.
David Larsson formed brilliant cult act called IN AETERNUM and till the present day records great death metal records. Henka Ohlsson also played in SCAR SYMMETRY, THEORY IN PRACTICE, MUTANT, DIABOLICAL, ALTERED AEON and THRAWN.
The fact that three ADVERSARY members played together in few other bands through the years only confirms how weird is that they couldn’t decide at the time whether to carry on with ADVERSARY or not. Shame!

Remains of an Art Forgotten (demo 1991)
Recorded: Recorded in Sunlight Studio December 07-08 of 1991
Recording line up: Jorgen Palmeby – Vocals, Per Nilsson - Lead and Acoustic Guitars, keyboards, Jocke Claessom – Guitar, David Larsson – Bass, Henka Ohlsson – Drums, Matti Karki (guest vocals)
To me this demo is a cult. Simply as that. Only 13 minutes long, four tracks, but they do kick ass and they are stunning. “Succumb to Putrefaction” opens with a wonderful melodic riff, which transforms into more thrashy pattern, quickly rising up the tempo. This song reminds me CEMETARY a bit, especially with the keyboards in one motif, but also DISMEMBER could be mentioned as one of influences. Anyway, this is wonderful song, with many great riffs, as well as killer solo. Sure, ADVERSARY has that typical Swedish sound and patterns for melodies, but who cares, I can listen to it for ages. It’s not original much, but fuckin wonderful. The title track is like EPITAPH – heavy as fuck, fast and unmerciful, but with sharp melody and again killer guitar solo. I don’t know if there were any solos on previous demos, but the guitarists do brilliant job on this third demo. “Beyond All Blessings” opens with great slow riff, which soon changes into some faster tunes. It’s basically one riff played in few different ways, but it works well. The best part of the song (and the entire demo, by the way!!) is definitely the one when the acoustic guitar comes in. I can give my life for such motives and this is one of the reasons why I always appreciated Swedish scene much more than American one. It was the ability to create wonderful atmosphere and melodic background, which didn’t take anything of the aggressive side of their death metal. These Swedish lads had many great ideas and were much more productive and talented than most of their American friends. “Serpent Twilight” closes the demo and it’s simply another classic Swedish death metal song, in the vein of EPITAPH, CEMETARY, or DESULTORY. Two things must be said at the end – first, I absolutely love the production of the demo. It has the Swedish “thick” sound, but at the same time is quite raw and aggressive, which gives great result! I would love to have sound like that on my demo, if I ever was about to record one. The other thing is, if someone asks me about Matti Karki’s vocals... I don’t think he did many vocal parts on the demo, probably just few screams, especially in the chorus of “Succumb to Putrefaction”, where he cooperates with the main vocalist Jorgen. And Jorgen has great voice himself, so the effect is killer. But let’s be honest then – the entire demo kills. This is truly one of my favourite Swedish demo tapes of all times, I could easily put it together with the demos of NIHILIST, ENTOMBED, DISMEMBER, CREMATORY or NECROPHOBIC. Absolutely a must to listen to!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What a shame then that ADVERSARY didn’t take it further and never managed to record anything afterwards. A truly shame, because I’m sure that a full length would be a shredding piece of traditional Swedish death metal.
Best song: “Succumb to Putrefaction”
Final rate: 95/100

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