Abigail Williams - _Becoming_
(Candlelight, 2012)
by: Johnathan A. Carbon (8 out of 10)
Abigail Williams gets a lot of shit and I am near clueless why. Well, to be fair, I know why, but I do not agree. It is true this band has identity issues, though I do not feel that negates quality. Abigail Williams is an Arizona / New York City / Los Angeles black metal group who had a rough beginning with the directionless blackened metalcore EP _Legend_. While nearly terrible, the band quickly corrected themselves with the average 2008 release _In the Shadow of a Thousand Suns_. If the band skipped their first EP, things would be different. The metalhead community, though, is not quick to forget. The band's first release has mired and obscured all subsequent releases leading to a near dismissal of the band entirely. This fact is damming, as the band has consistently made progress in terms of image and style. 2010's _In the Absence of Light_ was an above average tribute to Norwegian second wave black metal, and could have stepped up right behind Emperor and early Dimmu Borgir. But then again, metalheads are like elephants. Much like their namesake, Abigail Williams will most likely never ever get a fair trial. This is sad, given their latest release is not only good, but it is the best thing the band has done since its inception.

At first glance, it appears Abigail Williams has once again shifted directions to embrace the current atmospheric trend in black metal. The set list is cut in half and all the songs have gained eight extra minutes. There is heavy use of electronics, orchestration and atmosphere which runs throughout the record. There are even instances of tribute paid to early post rock bands. They should just get it over with and put an underexposed tree on the cover. For all intents and purposes, _Becoming_ is just another atmospheric black metal album. This would be true if it weren't so goddamn good.

While it is easy to dismiss a band based on past performances, I feel it sometimes shadows quality and diminishes merit given where it is rightly deserved. _Becoming_, while not original in any sense, triumphs in the atmospheric genre and oddly makes a strong case for originality. Abigail Williams has finally arrived at the place they were meant for. The use of blast beats versus slow doomed passages provide segues and escalations throughout the record. The band has a frightening talent for crafting interesting tension and drama throughout marathon running times. Compared to other bands in the same style, _Becoming_ is as good if not better in terms of composition. Too bad no one will give it a fair chance.

One of the best examples of the mastery displayed by Abigail Williams is their seventeen minute closer "Beyond the Veil". While having a long closer on an atmospheric black metal record is as unique as that underexposed nature photograph on the cover, the band makes use of it in every way possible. With heavy leanings towards Godspeed You! Black Emperor and folk sorrow, "Beyond the Veil" incorporates melodic string passages and impeding doom into a song worthy of all merit and praise. The distant and layered vocals by Ken Soceron are haunting and allow _Becoming_ to finish strong making the entire experience worth anyone's time.

If given the choice between listening to a good record by a band initially despised and a bad record by a venerable artist, the choice is clear. Damn your preconceptions and give credit where it is deserved.

Contact: http://www.myspace.com/abigailwilliams

(article published 12/2/2012)

1/23/2009 J Ulrey 8.5 Abigail Williams - In the Shadow of a Thousand Suns
3/28/2011 J Carbon Rotting Christ / Melechesh / Abigail Williams / Lecherous Nocturne / The Ziggurat The Gates of Sumeria
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