Review by Jason Guest
That Abigail Williams have had more members than an aging porn star and their first two albums were of different styles – not to mention that there were a wide range of styles within each of those albums – Abigail Williams’ identity can hardly be said to have ever settled. 2008’s In The Shadow of a Thousand Suns was largely a symphonic black metal album. The keyboards were completely eschewed for 2010’s In The Absence of Light when AW switched to a more purist black metal approach. And now Becoming – to be the band’s final album – is an altogether different beast, again drawing on a multitude of styles and genres for its inspiration.
From opener ‘Ascension Sickness’ through to the seventeen minute epic ‘Beyond The Veil’, Becoming is a multi-faceted beast of darkened delights and an ambitiously impressive album. Cast upon a gentle wind, the few solitary guitar notes that open the album are as a veil that slowly raises to unleash a wave of black metal grandeur. Tremolo-picked melodies cascade through the shade and deliver us between long and haunting passages strewn with cries and orchestral sounds that slowly collapse into pits of despair; the unholy dirges that drift through cadences, crescendos and into mournful codas encompass all that is pained and tortured in the funereal and doom-laden atmospheres. Of the seven tracks, two in particular stand out. ‘Infinite Fields Of The Mind’ is dynamically and structurally elaborate track. Opening with a gentle guitar, the track expands into black metal might before a mighty gallop delivers us into the second half where it erupts into a ravaging mid-tempo slab of black metal fervour strewn with grief-stricken and tormented vocals and harsh, tremolo-picked melodies. While ‘Three Days Of Darkness’ is a chilling instrumental akin to Lustmord’s darkened chambers of sound, it acts as a gateway to the seventeen minute closing track, the epic ‘Beyond The Veil’. This track is vast, opening with an eastern sounding melody that introduces a well-orchestrated and elaborate track that spans the full breadth of the band’s musical armoury from full-on assault to the most mournful in its film-like orchestration.
Usually, what was threatened by a band’s début and is forcefully reasserted by their sophomore effort is fully realised in album number three and firmly establishes their identity. Abigail Williams’ history can hardly be said to follow such a linear path and so it’d be easy to argue that the band’s inability to sit still stylistically – as well as the countless line-up changes – is a problem. But it must be said that it’s a matter of misfortune that mainstay Sorceron has decided to call it quits with Abigail Williams because with the ironically titled Becoming, it seems that he may well have finally found that Archimedean point from where he could truly shift the band on to achieve musical greatness.
7.5 out of 10
- Ascension Sickness
- Infinite Fields Of The Mind
- Three Days Of Darkness
- Beyond The Veil