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Abigail Williams - "In the Shadow of a Thousand Suns" (CD)

Abigail Williams - "In the Shadow of a Thousand Suns" CD cover image

"In the Shadow of a Thousand Suns" track listing:

1. I (0:39)
2. The World Beyond (6:16)
3. Acolytes (5:00)
4. A Thousand Suns (5:09)
5. Into the Ashes (4:39)
6. Smoke and Mirrors (4:52)
7. A Semblance of Life (2:06)
8. Empyrean: Into the Cold Wastes (6:15)
9. Floods (5:48)
10. The Departure (5:56)

Reviewed by on April 17, 2009

"Every song is a power house of absolute unrepentant spite."

If there were a hell, Abigail Williams would have already brought it screaming out of the dark recesses of the nether and on to the poor, pathetic denizens of the material world. Their debut full-length album “In The Shadow Of A Thousand Suns” uses the conduit of symphonic black metal to channel the feeling of fiends from the abyss cavorting across the bodies of the damned with wild abandon. The band has completely nailed the sound of keyboard-backed evil black metal on their first real go around, creating a highlight album that belongs in the collection of anyone with even a passing interest in the style.

There have been several odd misconceptions floating around the Internet about Abigail Williams that have unfortunately shot down the album before many black metal fans have been willing to give it a chance. Apparently their earlier EP had a good deal of hardcore sounds with only a slight black metal tinge, which is a charge that most definitely cannot be leveled at “In The Shadow of A Thousand Suns.” The entire disc is strictly symphonic black metal, with no identifiable hardcore influences of any kind occurring during its entire run time. Several reviewers have also commented on how they thought vocalist Ken Sorceron is only able to produce a pale imitation of the high pitched shrieks of Dani Filth. Rest assured that if Dani Filth were able to produce the nightmarish screeches and growls heard on this debut, Cradle of Filth would never get ridiculed as a pop metal band.

Like many albums in the same vein the first track is a brief fantasy themed keyboard introduction with a few horror undertones that leads into the actual metal. As soon as the second track, “The World Beyond,” begins it becomes apparent that an all out assault has begun that has no intention of letting up for the next 40 or so minutes. The guitars have the force of a steel battering ram, as the band frequently uses not only a dual guitar melody but even occasionally a triple guitar onslaught. The furious drumming easily keeps pace with the guitars at all times, which should come as no surprise as most of the drum work is provided courtesy of Trym from Emperor and Zyklon.

In a lot of ways Abigail Williams can be compared directly to Dimmu Borgir. The rare clean vocal that gets thrown into the mix follows the same kind of far away and echoing format familiar to many Norwegian black metal bands. Keyboards are also a near constant presence that reinforces everything the other instruments do. Much like Dimmu Borgir, the band’s bassist also gets the short end of the stick, as all of the other instruments are so overpowering that the bass can’t help but get lost.

Despite all the similarities, there are key instances where the musicianship on “In The Shadow Of A Thousand Suns” actually surpasses that of the best albums in the genre. While the keyboards are present on every track and stick around for the vast majority of each song, they are kept in the background enough that the ferocity of the album is never put into question. Every song is a power house of absolute unrepentant spite.

From start to finish, “In The Shadow Of A Thousand Suns” is a massively destructive black metal album with strong symphonic elements that easily competes with any of the works from the upper-tier names in the genre.

Highs: Ferocious and unrelenting guitar and drum work, great screeching vocals

Lows: The bass gets lost through most of the album

Bottom line: A non-stop black metal assault with heavy symphonic undertones

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)