It’s been almost a decade now since Abigail Williams were essentially the butt of every black metal devotee’s joke. Sure, this was more to do with the arguably annoying vocal range and wispy symphonics on debut record “In the shadow of a Thousand Suns” than anything else, but somehow in the middle of the 21st Century it seemed cool to target this particular band in favour of anti-black metal discussions. And then the band progressively proved everybody wrong. As only the very few who have listened and followed onto the rest of Abigail Williams’ discography will attest, the band’s songwriting values have more or less gone from strength to strength, protruding masses of raw, bitter black metal (“In the Absence of Light”) and then producing a more forward-thinking experimental approach (“Becoming”).
And so we see ourselves in 2015, awaiting the new arrival of another Abigail Williams work, this time entitled “The Accuser”. The first burning question is then, does it demonstrate further musical evolution? A resounding yes, although at times this record feels stripped down more than on its predecessor. The songwriting here somehow feels more challenging in places, yet at the same time due to a restrained, cloudy sort of production, the musicianship retains simplicity and accessibility. The opening number, ‘Path of Broken Glass’ shares its qualities with the album’s shortest songs, ‘The Cold Lines’ and ‘Lost Communion’ in that the sound is fully enraged, demonic and menacing in all the right ways. Of course, a snag is hit along the way. This emanates more from the somewhat secretive production than it does any lack of virtuosity, but the fact remains that if this albums had a cleaner production, these songs would be delightful to listen to. Then again, this is black metal: delightful often doesn’t come into discussion on the subject.
This leads to the other burning question surrounding the album: Are Abigail Williams once again attempting to regain that sense of freedom when it comes to creativity. A resounding yes for this question as well, you may find. It’s not in all the songs-as a matter of fact only three display this impression clearly-but when you do find it, it feels somewhat glorifying to be sitting on the edge of your chair, experiencing bitterness and bereave in the (dis)comfort of your own home. Essentially, the longer songs really take the cake. ‘Of the Outer Darkness’ is a paralyzing virtue of discontent, jarring riffs thumping out of the stereo’s dull mix whereas its successor and arguably definitive album highlight, ‘Will, Wish and Desire’ verges on the melancholic thanks to an upwards spiral of, dare I say it, happiness. The same can be felt for luxurious album closer ‘Nuumite’, displaying the powerful effects clean vocal delivery can have even on the most bitter of musical pieces. This balance is well refined, and from a songwriting perspective, Abigail Williams have developed an excellent identity here.
Abigail Williams are not the most talked about group in black metal as they were almost a decade ago-That much is true. Whether or not you want to regain your likeness for them is up to you, but the least anyone with a passing interest for black metal can do is listen to “The Accuser”, for its moments of delight and bereave seethe into your soul when you least expect it. Despite the seemingly lacklustre production, it goes without saying that you have to be interested in which direction the band have been heading in order to truly fulfil the enjoyment this album delivers, but once you have heard “The Accuser”, you’ll be shaking your head wondering why the band aren’t still mentioned in black metal’s most favourable discussions.
- Path of Broken Glass
- The Cold Lines
- Of the Outer Darkness
- Will, Wish and Desire
- Forever Kingdom of Dirt
- Lost Communion