Metal Storm logo
Ad Infinitum - Chapter III: Downfall review

Bandcamp music player

54 users:
Band: Ad Infinitum
Album: Chapter III: Downfall
Release date: March 2023

01. Eternal Rains
02. Upside Down
03. Seth
04. From The Ashes
05. Somewhere Better
06. The Underworld
07. Ravenous
08. Under The Burning Skies
09. Architect Of Paradise
10. The Serpent's Downfall
11. New Dawn
12. Legends
13. Upside Down [instrumental version]
14. Somewhere Better [instrumental version]

The Monarchy has fallen, but this album won’t be the Downfall of Ad Infinitum’s nascent Legacy.

Swiss symph-metallers Ad Infinitum have been rather busy since founder Melissa Bonny successfully crowdfunded the recording of their debut album, Chapter I: Monarchy; just over 18 months later, Chapter II: Legacy arrived, and there’s been a similar interval between that record’s release and that of the newest entry to their discography, Chapter III: Downfall. Despite the relatively short window of time between these albums, Ad Infinitum have changed; the plaguebearer masks have been ditched by the instrumentalists in the band, who give off a more collaborative image in the new record’s artwork compared with the Bonny-centric cover of the debut, and the lyrical focus has shifted from the Renaissance era to Ancient Egypt. However, even without any line-up shake-ups, Ad Infinitum have also changed in less superficial ways than these in the past 3 years.

In preparation for this album’s release, I went back to review the band’s debut last month, and voiced the appreciation I’ve had for it since discovering it in 2020. The sound of Chapter I: Monarchy that I find so compelling is a symphonic metal approach with power metal leanings, along with a very particular regal grandeur that really elevated it over most of the symphonic metal scene. By the time Chapter II: Legacy arrived in 2021, these elements had each diminished to a degree, with a more pop-oriented current running through several songs. In 2023, the trends from Legacy have been further cemented on Chapter III: Downfall; the last vestiges of power metal are effectively gone, and a relatively lazy ‘well, they’re both metal and poppy’ comparison on my part to Amaranthe in my review of Legacy has been actualized by multiple songs here, especially the “Drop Dead Cynical”-esque “Upside Down”. Quite a bit of that comes from the sidelining of the symphonics, which only meaningfully contribute to about half the songs; in their place, electronics have become a more prominent feature. I must confess some disappointment at having finally discovered a really promising new symphonic metal band for the first time in years, only to see them swiftly shift away from the sound that drew me to them; however, reviewing Downfall as the album it is rather than the one I’d like it to be, how does it stack up?

Well, as much as they’ve changed since Monarchy, the band aren’t unrecognizable here; there are a couple of songs here that have a similar feel to most of those on the debut, most notably “The Serpent’s Downfall”; the strings dancing around the measured riffs, the acoustic guitars in the verses and Bonny’s wide-ranging vocals, hitting notes both tender and forceful, all come together delightfully on a track that does slightly tease at what could have been for the record as whole. Another song on which strings feature most prominently is “Under The Burning Skies”, a delicate yet dramatic song with a richly evocative vocal performance from Bonny.

A lot of Ad Infinitum’s potential as a band does lie in having a vocalist as talented and charismatic as Bonny, who has the kind of voice that could make a reading of the phone book an engaging experience, and whose rich and soulful tones are equally suited to dramatic metal songs as they are full-blown pop balladry. Even if the style of some songs here isn’t overly aligned with my interests, the central vocal performances are consistently compelling. Still, it would be reductive to pin all of their charm on the simple fact that she’s singing them; these are, for the most part, memorably catchy and well-produced songs that offer a fair amount to enjoy.

As far as which songs stand out aside from the two I’ve already mentioned, one of the ones I’ve enjoyed more is “Seth”; arguably emblematic of Ad Infinitum’s leaning towards a more modern metal tone with the guitar riffs and use of electronics on this record, there’s still some nice symphonic melodies slid into a dark, heavy metallic backbone, and the emphatic nature of the chorus with the pounding percussion makes a strong impression. “From The Ashes”, another advance single, has a nice opening lead guitar motif, and the vocal hook in the pre-chorus is quite delightful, even if the chorus feels slightly disconnected from the rest of the track. Later on, “New Dawn” has a real brightness to it, with an incredibly uplifting tone to the chorus that I find quite charming, as well as featuring one of the record’s most scene-stealing guitar solos.

I’m not totally convinced by this album; I do feel like there is a bit of character missing from a few of the songs, and on top of “From The Ashes”, I get slight whiplash from transitions into choruses in a couple of other songs, mainly “Eternal Rains” and “Legends”. Still, on the whole, even if I do feel like Ad Infinitum are going to end up as a bit of a case of missed potential considering what I thought they might be capable of after Monarchy, they do have a knack for a good hook on Downfall, even extending through to “Somewhere Better”, a ballad that could easily have ended up being sappy and flat in less capable hands.

I’ve gone back to Legacy in the course of writing this review and feel perhaps I was slightly harsh at the time; there’s a fair few bands that have had far less successful attempts at making metal in this vein, with it being almost a decade since the last consistently good Amaranthe album. With the sound of Monarchy seemingly disappearing in the rear view mirror (although I’m still curious about the debut of The Dark Side Of The Moon), I’m still finding enough that I enjoy in where Ad Infinitum have been going with Legacy and Downfall to keep tabs on them in future, albeit perhaps with lower expectations going forwards.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 8
Songwriting: 7
Originality: 7
Production: 8

Written on 29.03.2023 by Hey chief let's talk why not


Comments: 5   Visited by: 77 users
30.03.2023 - 11:29
Rating: 6
Gag reflex

One of the bands that got my attention after the wonderful debut but made me lost interest in them very quickly afterwards. Legacy was certainly a step down and according to this review, it seems they have decided to keep going with the 'more pop, less metal' sound. I'll give it a listen nonetheless.
'The thoughts of dead babies
Wiped away with my semen'
30.03.2023 - 13:51
Rating: 7

Written by Gag reflex on 30.03.2023 at 11:29

One of the bands that got my attention after the wonderful debut but made me lost interest in them very quickly afterwards. Legacy was certainly a step down and according to this review, it seems they have decided to keep going with the 'more pop, less metal' sound. I'll give it a listen nonetheless.

Pretty much really; I do give them credit for making this sound they're going in more appealing than most similar acts, but it's still not quite what I'd like them to be doing
31.03.2023 - 20:25
Rating: 7
A 7 is fair. It doesn't quite reach up to Legacy which I would rank about 7,5 and Monarchy is a solid 8. "Marching On Versailles" is still their finest moment.
"You have the right to believe in what you want. I have the right to believe it's ridiculous." - Ricky Gervais
09.04.2023 - 15:54
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
I think The Dark Side Of The Moon has more to offer as this album not bad, but that feeling old was better and it could be better.
Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
11.05.2023 - 10:27

After listening to the three albums in a row, I gotta say that Legacy is probably my least favorite. Downfall comes in second after the debut, as I believe they perfected their style more on this album, and it is much more enjoyable compared to Legacy. Nonetheless, great review!

Hits total: 1394 | This month: 15