Abigail Williams — Walk Beyond The Dark
Following my discovery of Abigail Williams last year, by way of a show I attended solely to see Ghost Bath (review), I found myself engrossed by their 2016 album, The Accuser (review). A little over a year later, the band has released their fifth full-length record, Walk Beyond The Dark. The album's release coincided with the band touring in support of Ensiferum and I managed to see the second date on that run (review). The album came out only a day before the show, which had a syngeristic effect of building anticipation for both the record and the show that peaked at the same time.
Even with hyping myself up, both the band's live show and Walk Beyond The Dark exceeded my expectations. The improvements Abigail Williams have made in the 3 years since The Accuser dropped are immediately made clear on this new offering. While it features the expected blackened death framework, hints of thrash, melodic metal and progressive influences are also apparent. Walk Beyond The Dark greatly expands upon the band's already diverse sound with sacrificing coherence for the sake of varety.
There are still plenty of aggressive, buzzing guitars, wretched vocals and frenetic drums, but the material is more polished, and the aggression more nuanced on Walk Beyond The Dark. The production is vastly improved over The Accuser which — although it wasn't exactly a "grim" or "kvlt" sounding record — featured a sound that verged on abrasive at times. Walk Beyond The Dark allows everything to stand out in the mix, from the subtle, intricate drums to (e.g. the hertas littering "Ever So Bold") the guitar overdubs and the heart-piercing cellos. The vocals are menacing, gruff and intelligable, and there are even a few fleeting moments of clean singing in the record's back half.
Every aspect of Walk Beyond The Dark highlights the improvements Abigail Williams have made as musicians over the years. Having heard the band's material both live and on record, I feel they are a hugely underrated band on the American metal scene. This record features a lot of great song writing, transitioning between violent rage and groovy moderate tempos. The album opens with a banger in "I Will Depart," changes gears to somber and brooding at the midway point on "Black Waves," and keeps the onslaught of heavy riffs and melodicism fresh for the remaining 25 minutes.
Abigail Williams have released one of the year's best metal albums in Walk Beyond The Dark. Even before this record, the band had a strong back catalogue and quality live show; this feels like a band ascending to the next level of their craft.
A mature, evolved follow-up to the band's excellent 2016 offering, The Accuser, the fifth LP from Abigail Williams is one of 2019's best metal releases. Walk Beyond The Dark expertly blends American black / death with a host of other influences and accentuates the material beautifully with cellos and powerful melodic song writing. A very underrated band drops what is easily their best effort to date; I cannot recommend this album highly enough.
Release date: November 15th, 2019
Record label: Blood Music
Ken Sorceron — vocals, guitar
Bryan O'Sullivan — bass
Mike Heller — drums
Kakophonix — cello
Andrew Markuszewski — additional guitar (tracks 1 and 2)
Justin McKinney — guitar solo (track 3)
- I Will Depart
- Sun And Moon
- Ever So Bold
- Black Waves
- Into The Sleep
- Born Of Nothing
- The Final Failure
Published: December 24th, 2019.