Album Review! Abigail Williams – Becoming

I never paid attention to Abigail Williams, because like an asshole, I thought with a band name like that, they were just another one of these awful metalcore/deathcore bands that blended in with the rest of the crowd. However, when I discovered they were a band who performs black metal, it definitely got my attention. Well, Abigail Williams proves once again, never judge a book by it’s cover because Becoming is an amazing work of art. Blending what you would like from acts such as Agalloch and Wolves In The Throne Room and making it their own unique sound. It’s very dark, atmospheric and moody. Slow paced music and venomous screams reign down on you as well as very melodic riffs and creative song writing. Becoming is true to what you would want from a black metal band, sinister vocals and ominous guitar riffs. It’s also very promising in terms of what you can expect from a post-black/ambient black metal band, very atmospheric and pulls you into a state of mind that is very hard to describe. Ah, genre labeling…what a waste of time right? You get my point.

I had one of those experiences I’ve read about many many times before but never quite understood how it could happen. I hated this album the first time I listened to it. I don’t know if I was just being pissy or just not in the mood, but the first time I heard this album I was absolutely not feeling it. It dragged on forever and I was bored with the vocals and riffs. However, the next listen, I enjoyed it. Even more so the time after that, finding things each time that reached out to me. It was something new each time, the opening growl on the song “Radiance” or the brilliance that is the song “Beyond The Veil“, something always sticks out and I think to myself “Well played Abigail Williams, that part kicked ass.”  The album is long (55 minutes) for only 6 songs but they make it work fantastically, even the closing song “Beyond the Veil” clocks in at an epic 17:31 and the song holds on to my interest the entire time, no matter how many times I hear the song. So now, after multiple listens, I think Becoming is truly remarkable and one amazing album.

The music as a whole sounds distant, keeping that trve kvlt sound. The vocals are screeched from 2 halls down from the mic and the guitars sound like the gain is turned down quite a bit. Drums also sound like the set was walled off and wrapped in carpet. Yes, it sounds like the band is distant, however the music they create pulls you right in. Captivating guitar wankery and riffs shake my soul and random sounds here and there (weird reverb effects, sounds of faint breathing/wind) create a creepy atmosphere. However, the album sounds good. Soft orchestral parts or raw black metal parts, the album sounds really good. The production value doesn’t hurt the power of the music that Abigail Williams offers.

All of the songs are really good. Some have more bad ass parts in them than others but that happens. Ascension Sickness really doesn’t stand out as anything exceptional but it is a good song. Radiance stands out due to those extremely low growls at the beginning of the song and that super long build up in the middle of the song (same riff, over and over building faster and faster for 1.5 minutes). The slower parts of Elestial are great, the heavier part are alright. Infinite Fields Of Mind has an intro that reminds me of something from Tool’s 10,000 days album, then into one elegant acoustic riff that takes my breath away. Another fun part of this particular song is the crunchy power chord riff around the 6:20 mark. Makes for good headbanging. The next song is a nice little set up for the last song, Three Days of Darkness is very ambient & quiet. It flows ever so easily into the next track which happens to be my favorite track on the album. Beyond the Veil is soul shaking, the first 3 minutes of this track alone is enough to make me cream my pants and I still have 14 minutes of this song left! It continues to build up and explodes into blast beats and craziness. This song is just put together so well and the riffs are majestic. At the 8 minute mark it gets very orchestral with a nice calm mid-section break, then straight into an awesome riff. One of the highlights of the entire album happens right there. 17:31 of music and it holds your attention the entire time.

I fully appreciate and respect the amount of work was put into this album. It’s put together really well, sounds good, gets you headbanging, enters your soul and gives it a nice massage. The album is slow and heavy….but a different type of heavy. There are no constant blast beats and screeching growls the entire time. This is not your typical black metal album. You have to appreciate both sides of the spectrum that Abigail Williams provides, it’s not all quiet acoustic/orchestra arrangements and it’s not all tremolo picking riffs and blast beats…it’s the best of both worlds. It takes awhile to get into it so don’t have a grindcore mindset about things, the album won’t win you over in the first 30 seconds. It didn’t win me over until my second play through, on the second song. I do have to say that Abigail Williams’ best work is done when they are of the post-black/doom mindset of things. Overall, I highly recommend giving this album a listen to.

Pros: Excellent writing, sounds great even with distant sounding production, acoustic/ambient music is pro

Cons: The black metal is average, vocals sometimes don’t sit well with me

4 out of 5

Fav tracks: Radiance, Infinite Fields Of Mind & Beyond The Veil

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