Abigail Williams: In the Absence of Light

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Abigail Williams: In the Absence of Light
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Abigail Williams: In the Absence of Light
Black Metal
Candlelight Records
September 27th, 2010
Release length: 49:52
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To this day, many still scoff at the name Abigail Williams, and for good reason. The band originally started out as a combination of a Melodic Black Metal style and Metalcore, as if they were trying to jump start the Black Metal version of Deathcore. Luckily, they wised up. Enter In the Absence of Light and, well, it’s better, but still retains the “-core” aspect that had made their name a household joke to many fans of the Black Metal style. However, this time around, the band actually seems to move away from the Symphonic Black Metal aspect, retaining only slight traces of it in favor of going back to a more Melodic Black Metal sound.

While the band may have taken a Symphonic Black Metal approach to their music after their Legend EP, due to the constant changing of band members, the group resorted to being a three piece band, and for the most part, this shift is a good thing. While the group had a strong Symphonic Black Metal sound, this release shows a stronger, more solid Abigail Williams with firmer roots in a more straight forward Black Metal sound, which can be heard throughout the album. However, there is no denying that having no keyboardist has brought the band away from the Symphonic aspect of their sound, though there are still traces that can be heard through random keyboard sounds and attempted “epic” sounding guitar chords to build the songs up moreso, which left the band reverting back to a Melodic Black Metal sound mixed with today’s traditional, more stylish Black Metal sound, essentially the concept of taking a band like Dissection and approaching it with a band such as Watain, but still holding onto the bastard remnants of Symphonic acts such as Emperor or even Cradle of Filth who just can’t seem to stay away, even with a restraining order. Suffice it to say, it leads to a very impressive combination that often leads to some rather epic moments in the music that are, in a good way, staggering.

While the starting track “Hope the Great Betrayal” is a good starting point, the song really doesn’t put the band’s best foot forward. In fact, this song is more of a step backwards for the group, relying almost only on a Melodic Black Metal sound that eventually, near the end of the song, brings them back to the whole Blackcore experimental stages. The only real promising thing about this track is that the breakdown that occur near the end of the song isn’t a traditional breakdown by any means and actually fits the song, coming off more as a slower paced somber moment then anything, though still retains the general features of a common breakdown and still sticks out like a sore thumb against the lavish Melodic Black Metal the band churned out. For many, this would be enough for them to stop listening, but believe it or not, it gets much better from here. The Symphonic Black Elements are still here, though greatly minimal at times, with “Infernal Divide” really being one of the few tracks here that has a heavy focus on putting some symphonic keyboard elements into the mix moreso then just a few key spots for a few moments. like with “The Mysteries That Bind the Flesh”. This track actually moves at a much slower pace than the rest of the album, and the echo effect on the drums really play an intricate roll in the atmosphere of the song, especially during the guitar solo which actually sounds more like it was lifted from an old Hard Rock album. You can also pick up some traces of the Blackcore sound that Abigail Williams has thoughout “The Mysteries That Bind the Flesh” as well if you pay attention, but just like “Hope The Great Betrayal”, they work well in the music and actually aren’t really noticable unless you are specifically looking for them. There’s also a similar breakdown to the one in “Hope the Great Betrayal” that closes out the final track on the album, “Malediction”, but it again feels natural to the music and doesn’t really sound like a stereotypical Metalcore/Deathcore breakdown, however the effects layered over it do get really annoying after a short time.

In the Absence of Light has it’s good share of fast paced song and slower ones. Most of the slower tracks hit near the end of the album with “What Hells Await Me” and “An Echo in Our Legends”, with exception to “Infernal Divide” which is at the end of the first half. These songs are good, and in many ways just as commanding as the faster songs. “An Echo in Our Legends” has an early second wave Black Metal feel to it that brings a dark, commanding atmosphere to it thanks to the traditional Black Metal guitars and the bass lines that are much slower in comparison, all of which basically going for the listener’s throat. However, there’s no denying the energy and pure intensity that writhe behind some of the faster tracks on here. “Final Destiny of the Gods” and “The Mysteries That Bind the Flesh” are fantastic Black Metal songs that show the talent this new three piece has, incorporating enough Symphonic aspects to the music to make certain aspects of the song simply feel epic without going too over the top, or engrossing the entire track. The same can be said for “In Death Comes the Great Silence”, but without necessarily actually hitting an epic level and sticking to the more Melodic Black Metal with Symphonic traces sound that it starts with. All of this closes nicely with “Malediction”, a song that seems to jump around as far as speed goes, reaching for that epic feel more through the guitar work then the Symphonic moments on this recording.

In the Absence of Light makes for a nice change of pace for the band, and really feels more like a solid Black Metal release then anything the band has offered before. The album is tight and well composed, while still being pollished and retaining many of the positive features from the band’s previous full-length offering. The only downside to the release, really, is the openning track “Hope the Great Betrayal”, simply because it does feel more like a step backwards for the band, and the closing to “Malediction” simply because of the annoying as hell effects layered over the breakdown. Outside that, this album is fantastic and shows great improvement from the band. Naysayers may be quick to dismiss the band once more, but give In the Absence of Light a chance, as this refined release may very well surprise you.

01. Hope the Great Betrayal – 6:44
02. Final Destiny of the Gods – 8:15
03. The Mysteries That Bind the Flesh – 6:51
04. Infernal Divide – 4:59
05. In Death Comes the Great Silence – 6:17
06. What Hells Await Me – 4:47
07. An Echo in Our Legends – 4:59
08. Malediction – 7:01
Overall Score: 7.5/10


Digital review copy of this release provided by Candlelight Records.