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Abigail Williams - "Becoming" (CD)

Abigail Williams - "Becoming" CD cover image

"Becoming" track listing:

1. Ascension Sickness (11:11)
2. Radiance (5:33)
3. Elestal (8:12)
4. Infinite Fields of Mind (10:11)
5. Three Days of Darkness (2:27)
6. Beyond the Veil (17:31)

Reviewed by on December 13, 2011

"Whether caused by the revolving door of band members or simply a desire to avoid a static style, the music has shifted gears again for this album, which sounds basically nothing like any previous releases."

The band logo may still look the same, but that’s pretty much the only thing that hasn’t changed for Abigail Williams across three studio albums. In an interview with Metalunderground.com earlier this year, front man Ken Sorceron admitted the band’s sound has taken drastic turns with each release and hinted the metamorphosis would continue with “Becoming.” Whether caused by the revolving door of band members or simply a desire to avoid a static style, the music has shifted gears again for this album, which sounds basically nothing like any previous releases.

The new album goes even further into early kvlt black metal than was heard on “In the Absence of Light,” burying the fuzzy screeched vocals underneath the other instruments. Abigail Williams seems to be going backwards through time and retracing the steps of metal evolution. The band started out originally with a deathcore sound, switching next to a very aggressive U.S. symphonic black metal for “In the Shadow of a Thousand Suns,” moving backwards into a European melodic black metal style on “In The Absence of Light,” and now ending up even further back into old school black metal.

In yet another change, the tracks are much longer this time around, with some as long as 11 and even 17 minutes. This is both good and bad, as it gives the band time to play around with psychedelic and doom oriented moments, but also gives the album a chance to flounder by failing to mesh different elements with anything approaching grace. The massive final track has an overall flow that mostly works, but there are many times throughout the album where no attempts are made at transitioning between sounds. Soothing guitars and the sound of lapping waves suddenly explode into black metal fury without warning, which makes both styles completely out of place with the rest of the surrounding music. The creepy interlude “Three Days of Darkness,” consisting mostly of ghostly sound effects, is interesting to listen to but has essentially no connection with anything before or after it.

Despite the botched style shifts, each song usually has a hook that keeps things interesting. “Radiance” has a feel of progressively building up towards something and includes a segment of ever faster guitar work that gives it more energy than the other songs. “Elestial” brings out a slow, hypnotic groove without actually using any synths, and the album overall has the feel of black metal that wants to dip into stoner doom.

“Becoming” has a lot of interesting sounds and can definitely pique the interest of black metal fans, especially those who wished Abigail Williams would drop the symphonic elements. Unfortunately, it’s also a rather incoherent album, both between each individual song and in the overall discography of the band. It seems like Abigail Williams missed the boat with being able to nail down a specific sound or image during its formative years, and while some may see that as freeing and worthy of praise, it also leads to a sonic schizophrenia that isn’t quite as enjoyable to listen to as bands that know how to do one sound well.

Highs: Some cool psychedelic moments and doom undertones.

Lows: Style shifts lack any sort of coherent transitions, and the band has lost much of the polish and aggression from its first full-length.

Bottom line: Abigail Williams changes sound yet again and plunges into old school black metal with a psychedelic and doomy twist.

Rated 3.0 out of 5 skulls
3.0 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)