Abigail Williams — The Accuser
After seeing Abigail Williams headline a show I initially attended just to see Ghost Bath (link), I was instantly hooked by the band's unique spin on the black metal genre. As a three-piece unit, the band's live show was free-flowing black metal jam that balanced intensity with intricate progressions and sweet groves. On record, The Accuser is evocative of the band's powerful live performance but also a lot more layered and nuanced, on account of the two additional personnel and studio mixing. It's still obviously the same band, however, which is what really matters in such comparisons.
As of writing this, I've not heard enough of the band's prior work to comment on any improvements or changes that may be apparent on The Accuser. The record is a strong mixture of traditional black metal elements (buzz saw guitars, wretched vocals and grimey tremolo runs) and post-rock that's somewhat fashionable these days — at least, in the niches of unfashionable music — without coming off as trite or clichéd. The majority of the cuts on The Accuser are fairly stripped down affairs that lean heavily on the group's black metal chops, while tracks like "Will, Wish and Desire" and "Lost Communion" change things up with a heavy dose of blue-rock in the mix — making them my personal favourite cuts on the album.
The material on The Accuser runs a bit long, though not excessively so, with only 2 of the album's 8 tracks running longer than 7 minutes. The material takes it's time to establish rhythms and passages, but nothing overstays its welcome. The vocals are fairly limited to the typical black metal-style pained wretches and backing shrieks and howls, however the album's long instrumental runs keep them from getting monotonous. The album runs 45 minutes and manages to squeeze every bit of goodness out of each passage without wasting a single second. The Accuser manages a duality of feeling very much like a free jam and yet is executed with the precision and and polish of a finely crafted collection of music.
For fans of modern black metal who prefer material that skews more towards the traditional aspects of the genre, Abigail Williams should not disappoint. The Accuser takes a solid base of black metal and layers on progressive influences to add nuance and variety but without taking the edge off the material. The band's execution gives the album a vast, symphonic feeling, as each passage flows into the next, building to perfectly timed crescendos. The pacing and song-writing are real highlights on this album, and the production is perfect for this sort of music: clear and polished but not the obnoxiously sterile feel of so many purely digital recordings these days. The album sounds professionally recorded, and as though human beings actually played its contents.
One of the best parts about going to live shows is discovering new bands, and Abigail Williams has been one of the more pleasant surprises in that regard. The group's live show was intense and extremely impressive and The Accuser captures that perfectly. This is a great record, packed with some ripping black metal riffs, sick blue-rock grooves and a perfect mix of mid-tempo atmospheric breaks to keep the listener engaged. While there are a host of other genre influences at work on this album, it always impresses me how far we've come from a few kids in Norway listening to Bathory records and making DIY metal to the current status of the genre and its related offshoots. The Accuser is a testament to the quality of the post-black metal scene and I highly recommend it. I'm also looking foward to the band's next release, given the depth and breadth of the material shown on this record.
Hailing from the same locale as Wolves In The Throne Room, the members of Abigail Williams are anything but a copycat of the aforementioned black metal trio. The Accuser is like if a stoner metal band traded their bags of dope for a stack of Dark Throne and Emperor records. The record is long and winding, but never does it feel like it's spinning its wheels or outright lost. The post-black metal genre is host to a great number of unique, engaging artists, and Abigail Williams should be counted among them. The Accuser is compositionally excellent and I highly recommend it to fans of modern black metal and its endless sub-genres.
Release date: April 18th, 2016
Record label: Candlelight Records
Ken Sorceron — vocals, guitar
Jeff Wilson — guitar
Ian Jakelis — guitar
Will Lindsay — bass
Charlie Fell — drums
- Path Of Broken Glass
- The Cold Lines
- Of The Outer Darkness
- Will, Wish and Desire
- Forever Kingdom Of Dirt
- Lost Communion
Published: October 22nd, 2018.