Abigail Williams - In the Absence of Light
Candlelight Records
Black Metal
8 songs (50:06)
Release year: 2010
abigail williams, Candlelight Records
Reviewed by Crash
Album of the month

I remember Abigail Williams. I first heard of them around 2006 when they were still just a local band in Phoenix. Being that Phoenix is primarily a thrash town and little else I was surprised to see the following that they had amassed in such a short amount of time. This was also the spawning of the Myspace generation, which they successfully took advantage of. I was a legit fan. I even got to see them once.

Then they broke up…

Then they got back together….

Then broke up…

Then got back together again…

About this time I really stopped paying attention. Legend had just come out, but I didn’t buy it because all of the songs that I liked were already available through their Myspace over the years. Another two years later and I heard that they were signed to Candlelight and had a new album out In The Shadow of a Thousand Suns. I took only a listen to their single Into the Ashes before I made up my mind that I didn’t like it. It was too overproduced, too clicky, too plastic. Not to mention that their songwriting made me think of Winds of Plague before Emperor. When we are talking about black metal, this is not a good thing.

Little did I know that I would be listening to and reviewing In the Absence of Light. I figured that my run with the band was over and that while they had a seemingly good start that they would fade into the limbo habited by oh so many Dimmu clones. But I decided to take a listen. Then I took another. Then I got my hands on the album to make sure that it wasn’t too good to be true.

To be quite frank, this is one of the best black metal albums I’ve heard in a long time.

Gone are the long winded keyboard segments that only serve as an excuse for Revolver magazine to put their keyboardist in their centerfolds. Gone is the useless “tech” aspect. And what will be a saving grace for many people is the complete absence of any core influence whatsoever. It used to always be said that this band fused metalcore with black metal. I personally never heard it, but I could always see how someone could draw that conclusion. But now, I would only be left looking dumb trying to find anything un-grim or un-frostbitten about the record.

The music takes its time more, average song being around the five to six moment mark. The keyboards are never in the front of the mix, serving as they should: as background to fill out the sound or to compliment atmospheric sections. This is how I believe that keyboards work their best with the genre. Too much and the plastic Casio sound becomes too silly and I need a breath of fresh Darkthrone just to survive. From my understanding, the band has a knack for having an always rotating lineup and the finished product involves only three members, so I assume that their past keyboardists are all gone and the remaining members had to pick up the slack themselves. This is a good thing. The music is able to focus on the riffs and the atmosphere.

Songs like Final Destiny of the Gods and The Mysteries that Bind the Flesh are perfect examples of how a black metal song should be written. Chock full of great ideas, variation, and a killer attitude it surprises me that something this cold and bleak was written by folks from my backyard. The guitar is no longer excessively technical, but tasteful, providing great melodies and tremolo picking that cuts right through to the ears. Sorceron’s vocals were never less than good, but here he finally pulls off the black metal feel. His vocals are gasps of air desperately trying to not drown in a sea of sound. The drums neglect to use the over triggered sound that I have grown to despise.

Overall, this sounds incredibly organic and dare I say old school? Truth be told, I could much more easily set this aside Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk than Death Cult Armageddon]. At times I even get My Arms, Your Hearse feel, which is very cool indeed. It is very clear that the band went and did some reflection about what kind of band they wanted to be, ate a couple bowls of black metal Wheaties, and decided to pump the darkest and most evil record they could. For the most part they accomplish this goal. There is the occasional moment that sounds a bit too much like Dissection (The chorus to Infernal Divide I swear is Night’s Blood, but aside from that occasional moment, the record is excellent and will easily be one of my favorites of the year. This was a band that was way too convoluted and busy for my tastes. I am incredibly pleased that they learned the value of “less is more” because this record is proof that a good idea always beats showing off.

Killing Songs :
Final Destiny of the Gods and The Mysteries that Bind the Flesh are my favorites
Crash quoted 93 / 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 Shadow of a Thousand Suns reviewed by Alex and quoted 76 / 100
Abigail Williams - Legend reviewed by Alex and quoted 74 / 100
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