Abigail Williams - In the Shadow of a Thousand Suns
Candlelight Records
Melodic Black Metal
10 songs (46'30")
Release year: 2008
abigail williams, Candlelight Records
Reviewed by Alex

Little did I know while reviewing their Legend EP that Abigail Williams will generate a whirlwind of controversy with their blackened melodic hardcore style of extreme metal. The purists obviously hated it with “melodic” and, especially, “hardcore” adjectives attached in the same sentence with the notion of black metal, turning the band into proverbial whipping dogs. In the modest eyes of this reviewer anybody is allowed to experiment. For a while, however, it seemed that Abigail Williams’ research came to a screeching halt and five cuts from Legend will be all that is going to remind the world of the Arizona band who took the name of one of the Salem witches as their moniker.

Two years and numerous line-up changes later, with a couple of formal split-ups and reformations, brief stop in Cleveland/Detroit area (my neck of the woods) and now finally established in New York City, with some original members back, the new LP In the Shadow of a Thousand Suns is upon us. Hey, it looks that Ken Sorceron and Co are giving it another go.

Ten tracks afterward and I still fail to see either side of this argument. There is definitely nothing in Abigail Williams which causes me to detest it, while this can’t certainly be hailed the best thing since sliced bread either. Not that it is killing me, but the hardcore/breakdowns part of Abigail Williams, the old version, has been mostly ditched. Now on display we have a very competent, but not groundbreaking or revolutionarily innovative melodic black metal drenched in keyboards. If you started liking Dimmu Borgir right around Spiritual Black Dimensions, In the Shadow of a Thousand Suns uses the mold the Norwegians did not break. Without way over the top symphonic pomp and orchestration of Dimmu Borgir which was to come later, Abigail Williams version of brutal-coupled-with-melodic combines blasting and razor sharp guitar riffs with melodic flourishes of mostly keyboards and rarely leads (The World Beyond).

Hinting at horror movies (Into the Ashes) or nastiness (Smoke and Mirrors), the latter with the brief chuggy breakdown recollection, there is plenty of fluid melodic riffing on the album which is very much on par with the better acts of the mainstream gothic black or Gothenburg school, The World Beyond, Floods and the closer The Departure are my primary examples. Ken Sorceron’s voice lacks the growling power of Shagrath, but is nowhere the disgusting shriek of Dani the Filthman. The clean vocals, to keep my comparison line consistent, could take quite a few lessons from ICS Vortex. On the flip side, the keyboards are the highlight of the show, masterfully played, suggesting Ellyllon’s classical training (just check out the arpeggio waves in The Departure or overture A Semblance of Life). Also, it would be nice to know how exactly Trym Torson (Zyklon, Emperor) contributed to the record’s mechanized run of the mill drumming.

The bottomline is that this music very much has its audience. The younger impressionable kids who are into horror movies, vampires and gothic lifestyle, trying to make inroads into extreme metal, by all means, picking up In the Shadow of a Thousand Suns you will be getting your hands on a quality and confident band. How exactly this relates to True black metal is another story, and it should not be the reason to decry and denigrate Abigal Williams’ art. If the bandmembers wore face paint, which they don’t, Dimmu Borgir would have had all the rights to call and ask for it back, but they could have done the same to, say, Sothis, and many other lesser bands, musically speaking. At least in Abigail Williams, unlike Sothis, there is mature melodic sense woven behind the rhythmic texture and, if stretched, I can conjecture the sense of loss and tragedy in some of In the Shadow of a Thousand Suns melodies.

Killing Songs :
The World Beyond, A Thousand Suns, Floods, The Departure
Alex quoted 76 / 100
Other albums by Abigail Williams that we have reviewed:
Abigail Williams - The Accuser reviewed by Andy and quoted 86 / 100
Abigail Williams - Becoming reviewed by Goat and quoted 84 / 100
Abigail Williams - In the Absence of Light reviewed by Crash and quoted 93 / 100
Abigail Williams - Legend reviewed by Alex and quoted 74 / 100
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