Album Review: Abigail Williams - 'In the Absence of Light'

1 October 2010 | 10:20 pm | Staff Writer
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Channelling black metal’s traditional roots

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‘Staying the course’ can sometimes be easier said than done. Fundamentally, it is a sentiment (particularly when applied in a musical sense) that gives bands a binding direction – one to keep them grounded.

Abigail Williams are one group certainly not confined to the straight and narrow. However, the jury is still out on whether this has been by design or rather because the band is indecisive in their applications. Whether intentional or not, their sound has changed, altered and distorted itself sometimes to good effect and at equal times not so much.

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Ditching the keys before studio album number two entitled, ‘In the Absence of Light’ was a conscious decision, which has seen a symphonic embodiment that channelled a Dimmu Borgir style replaced by a strong guitar sound with interchanging doses of harmony. Subsequently, this album would not be out of place in the 90’s black metal library, with similarities to notable acts like Immortal and Watain not untoward in this instance.

‘What Hell Awaits’ and ‘Hope the Great Betrayal’ stand out as the two pillars of this release, with both the strong points of the album. The speed is not blistering but rather driving. The vocals raspy rather than guttural and so forth. With most songs clocking in at five minutes and above this is a purer journey instead of one that is intended to beat you down with brief, fast spurts of aggression.

‘Final Destiny of the Gods’ is befitting of its title with the track the longest song of the album with an opus feel, aided by some fast double kick work notably in the beginning. Conversely, ‘Malediction’ ends the album on a quite menacing note.

Is this a band suffering from an identity crisis or a group that despises the thought of making the same album twice? Only time will tell. ‘In the Absence of Light’ might finally see the band receive a better musical embrace. However, the operative word here is ‘might’. A solid release but still a little patchy in some areas.

Fans may be slightly restless with the constant alterations to the Abigail Williams musical blueprint. This is understandable. ‘In the Absence of Light’ is again distant to its predecessor. If this is the band’s decided style then let us hope they stick with it long enough to see it evolve and inevitably improve for both the fans and members of the band’s sake alike.

1. Hope The Great Betrayal

2. Final Destiny of the Gods

3. The Mysteries That Bind the Flesh

4. Infernal Divide

5. In Death Comes The Great Silence

6. What Hells Await Me

7. An Echo in Our Legends

8. Malediction