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Abigail Williams: Becoming

What more can be said about Abigail Williams? When it comes to this band, every fan of Black Metal has an opinion towards them. It seems like after a certain period of time, the band decides to change up their music. When the group started out, they essentially were an alternate hitter for fans of Winds of Plague. Eventually they grew into a more Emperor fueled Symphonic (and stylish) Black Metal act. I enjoyed watching the progression with each new release, so of course when Becoming hit my inbox I immediately grabbed it and threw it on, forsaking sleep to hear what this release had to offer. However, seeing the press release state the album was sixty minutes (though really only a little more then fifty five) and composed of six tracks, I immediately became worried. Unfortunately, it became justified.

I have yet to sit down and hear the entire album. Actually I’ve spent a large amount of my time solely on the first track, “Ascension Sickness,” simply because I couldn’t believe my ears. Abigail Williams have shed the progression they made in the Symphonic Black Metal style to go the raw, underground “kvlt” route. The production here is lo-fi and meant to establish a depressive atmosphere, which it does to an extent. This release feels more like something I’d expect to hear on Prophecy Productions as immediate references to some of their artists like Lantlos among many, many others came to mind. By this time, I’m looking at the screen and find myself in the middle of the fourth song, “Infinite Fields of Mind,” and I cannot say that I was moved enough to really remember “Elestial.”

“Ascension Sickness” starts off in a very slow manner with what sounds like a harp or some kind of instrument like that being played against growing wind sound effects and chimes blowing in said sounds. The desolate vibe is established well when the guitar starts playing those same notes and the drums fade in with the wind effects growing louder, and from here it’s a completely different Abigail Williams ballgame. The music feels depressive with the vocals blending into the background, and a really odd guttural growl that appears shortly after the vocals start that honestly made me break out laughing with how out of place it was. After several times with the song, I still had no idea how to describe what I heard, so again I listen to it, and I’m writing exactly what I’m hearing, trying to describe it in the most obvious manner. This goes on for over eleven minutes, varying in speed before eventually going into “Radiance,” another slow moving track that is meant to build up a depressing tone to the music. But, the gutturals are back, having a very inhuman sound to them that does work for the song, but at the same time it feels like I’m listening to a slower “Ascension Sickness” at times. When the track does pick up a little bit, “Radiance” does come into it’s own. “Elestial” takes a good while to build up and starts off similarly to “Ascension Sickness” but around the time the guitars kick in on that first track and minus the wind effects. Again, it feels like “Ascension Sickness.”

But it’s “Infinite Fields of Mind” that really strikes a chord. Again, we’re stuck listening to a slow paced guitar introduction with more effects, this time running water, and it’s honestly starting to bore the hell out of me until the music slams into a ruthless Black Metal fury of anger and energetic rhaspy vocals that cut away like razor blades. For the past twenty five minutes, this is what I’ve been dying to hear, but sadly the band continues to throw slower passages into the music that aim to giving it a melancholic tone. This slower part lasts too long and eats up much of the ten minute plus length, though the more traditional Heavy Metal riffs that hit when it finishes perked my spirits up a bit. You may argue that this is what some of the more emotional underground raw Black Metal material typically consists of, but the fact of the matter is that these songs feel repetitive most of the time within their own time limit, and of tracks that came before them. On top of that the atmosphere is horribly lacking. Yes, some songs really feel depressing, but wheres the frostbitten sound? The vocals come off howling like ghastly wind, but I walked out of these four songs simply not believing it and only being moved slightly into a “lightly unnerved” emotional state.

Am I interested in hearing the rest of the album? Honestly, not really. Like I said, the lack of a cold atmosphere to this recording really killed my urge to hear it. But, anyone expecting breakdowns or even Symphonic elements are going to be shocked, either in a good or bad way, at the raw approach to this album. The whole time it just felt like something huge was missing, and that’s the frostbitten sound to go along with it. Do I expect to give it a great review? Probably not, and I don’t really expect to come back to this album again until I do the review. It’s quite different, I’ll give it that, but sometimes a sudden change isn’t exactly the best option.

Article based on digital review material provided by Candlelight Records.