ADEMA has survived blows that might have permanently crippled or killed many other bands. The group was dropped by its previous record label, Arista, after the disappointing sales of its second album, "Unstable". Then Mark Chavez, lead singer and half-brother of KORN's Jonathan Davis (a fact emphasized in the initial publicity campaigns for the group), departed. Yet ADEMA bounced back, landing a new vocalist in the relatively unknown Luke Caraccioli and signing a new deal — with, surprisingly, Earache Records, a company known more for extreme metal than commercial modern rock.
How Earache intends to market this band remains somewhat of a mystery. "Planets", the band's third effort and first with Caraccioli on the mic, is well-produced, well-performed and sprinkled with a number of catchy songs. But at the same time, the record is so smooth, so polished (even for an indie production), and so ultimately generic that it falls short of truly memorable. The truth is, ADEMA has never been a uniquely distinguishable band — which is probably why so few people cared about their second album after the first one went gold — and they've not done much to rectify that here.
Caraccioli has a pleasant, mid-range voice, but he often sounds as if he's half-asleep while singing these songs. The slower numbers — "Barricades In Time", "Rise Above" — are tailor-made for radio airplay, but lack spontaneity and any real emotional edge. Many of the songs plod along at familiar nu-metal type tempos, while more uptempo material, like "Until Now" and "Vikraphone", approach the sound and overall power level of commercial rockers like NICKELBACK. None of these songs, however, are bad in their own right. The two outright misfires are a dreadful, last-gasp rap-metal retread called "Bad Triangle" and a pointless cover of METALLICA's "The Thing That Should Not Be" that extends an already too-long album (Editor's note: "The Thing That Should Not Be" was included on a promotional copy of the CD and will not appear on the final version of the album).
Aside from those, however, ADEMA's "Planets" is a textbook example of how to make good rock music that is almost completely forgettable the moment the disc stops playing. Tunes like "Shoot The Arrow" and "Enter The Cage" are undeniably hooky, but lack something that great rock desperately needs — teeth and attitude. That may be the one obstacle ADEMA will never overcome.