Adema is a band that never really found itself on my radar. I remember hearing a couple of songs from them years ago, and I saw them live once (in 2003 co-headlining with Powerman 5000). Outside of that I have never had any real desire to pursue their music in any active form.
Now I find myself with their latest, Kill the Headlights, in my hands. I vaguely wondered if it would be anything like their middle of the road/radio-friendly nu-metal sound they were peddling. After all, they had gone through a few line-up changes, including two replacement lead singers since 2001. It is also documented that they (meaning the remaining original members) never cared for the nu-metal label, wishing to just be called a rock band.
Well, the sound is still definitely Adema, which I cannot say means all that much. I went and listened to a couple of singles, streamed online, from their debut to get a taste of them again. The songs were definitely in the light nu-metal vein, and most due to Marky Chavez's voice (likely the influence of his half-brother, Korn's Jonathan Davis). The departure of Chavez, following their third album, led to the arrival of Luke Caraccioli, whose voice I have not heard. He did not remain that long before being replaced by Bobby Reeves, making his first appearance here on Kill the Headlights. Reeves was found in the LA band LEVEL, whose ranks were also raided for guitarist Ed Faris. This gives Adema a second guitar player for the first time since Mike Ransom departed in 2003.
As for the album? Well, like I said, it still has that Adema quality found on the earlier disks. What they benefit from here is a cleaner production sound, and Reeves voice. Reeves is a vastly different style singer from Chavez. Where Chavez had a distinct "rappiness" to his delivery, Reeves is much cleaner and smoother. It seems as if Adema can finally rid themselves of the nu-metal label as Kill the Headlights is most definitely a rock album.
The big question is if anyone cares. Mention Adema and you are likely to receive a few blank stares. It has definitely been awhile since they were on the radio. Perhaps this will prove to be a big comeback for them, but I tend to doubt that. Everything plays towards the middle, as if they were targeting every song at a radio audience in an effort to prove their worth to the mainstream audience.
The album is completely inoffensive, and at times kind of enjoyable. That said, it is nothing special. It is a generic rock album that fails to stand out from the crowd. The production qualities are high, the performace is tight, but the songs fail to make an impact. I do think that Bobby Reeves is a better fit, but still, there is nothing to get up any excitement.
For what it is, Kill the Headlights is easy to listen to. Toss on tracks like the first single, "Cold and Jaded," or "Brand New Thing," "What Doesn't Kill Us," or "Black Clouds," and you may even find yourself singing along, or at the very least humming along. It is that kind of music. Once it is done playing you won't find it to be memorable, but while it is playing it will burrow into your brain and stick for a little bit.
Bottomline. I cannot recommend this album as it really just sort of sits there. It does have some nice melody and feels a bit stronger than the early work. Still, Adema is just a bland radio-rock that fails to deliver anything new and original.