January 24th, 2012
Release length: 55:07
Well, the raw trait is obviously there, and the band does their best to really try to establish a cold, melancholic atmosphere to the release. The guitars come through pretty clear actually, just pushes farther back in the mix and sound as though they were later altered to come off a lot rawer than they should be. Granted this could be thanks to the band having three guitarists, but these are not the only instruments to do this. There’s no real sharpness to them similar to what many underground recordings of this lo-fi quality would have. The vocals aren’t quite as clear though, and have that howling tone to them thanks to how distant they are, coming off slightly like wind, but not quite powerful enough. The bass here doesn’t really come through as well either, though it is present and you can still pick up on it. It does its job well, it just ends up being something that is as obvious in the mix. The drums here also sound quite clear like the guitars, having cymbals that crash loudly with snares that sound rich with a slight echo and a deep thud to the bass kicks. Really, you can’t help but wonder if the band originally recorded some on a higher quality, and then went this direction later on in the studio, as the bite of a raw quality just doesn’t really exist here.
And on top of suddenly switching to the underground Depressive Black Metal sound, the band felt the urge to make many of the songs retain a longer-than-necessary track length. This ends up being the biggest problem to their single, “Ascension Sickness.” While the introduction within the song isn’t too bad and builds slowly through wind blowing hard amongst wind chimes, it isn’t until the song actually begins you will be remotely intrigued. The atmosphere of the song does try to be cold, but the introduction and music itself doesn’t really back it up. Eventually the track just comes to a halt, and goes back into the effects again, including a back of the throat voice making random noises that is supposed to be creepy or something, but simply isn’t. There’s also the seventeen and a half minute closing track “Beyond the Veil” to contend with. This also has a very long introduction that even seems to be bled into from the instrumental track “Three Days of Darkness.” However, it doesn’t last too long compared to “Infinite Fields of Mind,” which does end of causing the track to be padded out a little more, though some passages here do end up feeling more suitable to the atmosphere and general flow of the song, as well as have some nice transitions in. This doesn’t excuse how long the band will focus on them though, which can seem like they go on forever.
Thankfully this is far from everything this release offers. “Radiance” really shows a stronger portrayal and love from Abigail Williams to that raw depressive approach, and makes for an astounding track. The shorter length keeps the band from adding filler material like with “Ascension Sickness,” and in the end the track really does become one of the tighter songs, as well as even finds a rather venomous, razor-like aggression brought into the mix that makes the transition to this style worth it. The faster pace here really aids in establishing a sinister tone to the music, and its something that this album really needs. Not all of the songs are of this faster pace, but it’s the length of the song and how the band handles it that really works in their favor more so. This is shown with the far slower “Elestial,” which feels just as tight and fluid from start to finish as “Radiance,” but does a superb job of keeping it all solid material without going into padding, capturing a cold vibe to the music as well. This also leads to a nice amount of variety amongst these two songs alone. That final environment carries into “Infinite Fields of Mind,” another long track, but it manages to do everything right. The band keeps the music fresh without really having to pad it out to reach the ten minute plus mark. Much of that comes from the start of the song, which is a nice introduction that continues the atmosphere set by “Elestial” nicely, giving it a believable cold vibe that works well with the off and on fast to mid-tempo paces of the song.
One can argue this is Abigail Williams trying to hop on the underground Black Metal bandwagon, especially since it’s becoming so popular among fans of the genre all together, but you also could argue that it’s not. The thing here is that the music isn’t too bad when the band isn’t trying to pad it out, and when they do it often feels like a great misunderstanding of this form of Black Metal all together. The audio quality shows a good raw, lo-fi sound, but overall you can’t help but hear the music in a manner that seems as if it was originally meant to be a high quality stylish release, but just wasn’t for some reason. Given the two songs that are padded out the worst and end up growing very boring are the longest tracks, it leaves roughly three songs and an instrumental introduction track to really make the album’s case for buying it, meaning less than half the album is actually any good. On top of that, there’s plenty of other bands in the depressive and raw fields that accomplish this goal a lot easier, both in the music and atmosphere of the releases. Becoming is an interesting change of pace, but in the end, it just comes off as work of love by the band that simply is not worth the time or money.
01. Ascension Sickness – 11:11
02. Radiance – 5:33
03. Elestial – 8:12
04. Infinite Fields of Mind – 10:11
05. Three Days of Darkness – 2:28
06. Beyond the Veil – 17:31
|Overall Score: 4/10
Digital review copy of this release provided by Candlelight Records.