posted on 3/2007 By:
There’s been a lot of buzz circling this band, and even I got a bit caught up in the excitement. Considering Abigail Williams was originally formed from the ashes of the famed US death metal darlings Vehemence, a personal contemporary favorite of mine, expectations are understandably high. Add to that an opening slot for the US return of black metal Gods Emperor at the House of Blues in Los Angeles, along with an invitation to tour with black metal veterans Dark Funeral and Enslaved and there’s got to be some element of greatness here, right? Right? Not exactly. Despite their overwhelming publicity and success, I found Legend to be an overwhelming disappointment.
“From the Buried Heart” kicks off the album in a flurry of trite and predictable Americanized melodeath that amounts to sounding like little more than The Black Dahlia Murder with a bit of keyboards, and some fairly unconvincing chorus featuring clean vocals. “Like Carrion Birds” starts off like a less inspired version of The Funeral Pyre without the adventurous elements. Predominately speaking, Abigail Williams sticks to playing it safe without ever deviating much from all the expected clichés (The Cradle of Filth meets watered down American NWSDM ala Darkest Hour is painfully obvious), and is in no way what I would call subtle. Inconsistency of quality is the order of the day. By the time “The Conqueror Wyrm” rolls around, they start to focus more on the symphonic black metal aspects of their sound, but the change isn’t really complete until the Emperor inspired “Watchtower” and Naglfar/Dark Funeral-esque musings of “Procession of the Aeons” demarcate the most interesting moments of Legend by far, albeit I’d be hard pressed to point to any moment of the album that hasn’t been done better by their far too obvious range of influences.
I found Ashley Jurgenmeyer’s keyboard work to be extremely obnoxious, not because she has a propensity to be overwhelming or anything to that effect, but because her parts are, frankly speaking, some of the blandest, most uninteresting generic work I’ve heard to date. Most of the keyboard parts seems like an over-extravagant afterthought that while mildly complementary, hardly adds anything of interest to the larger picture of Abigail Williams' sound. I’ve never been that impressed with Zach Gibson (ex-The Black Dahlia Murder), he may be able to get the job done well enough, but his playing has never been anything close to what I would call standout. However, to their credit, Bjorn Dannov’s (ex-Vehemence) leadwork is extremely well executed, and by far the most inspiring and engaging aspect of Legend, even if the rhythmwork on the album is, as is becoming the trademark of Abigail Williams, horrifyingly generic. Even if it’s not the most evocatively original style, vocalist Ken Sorceron does have a pretty forceful set of pipes on him, but fancy solos and a furious vocalist aren’t enough to make an album successful.
Inevitably I’m going to step on someone’s toes writing this review, and as sure as the sun comes up every morning, most people are going to chalk my opinions up to being little more than those of an opinionated elitist who has his head shoved too far up his own kvlt ass to appreciate good music for what it is. Unsurprisingly, at least from my perspective, a good many people are going to absolutely adore this album. Some will laud this band's greatness and gripe about how no one is giving them the proper respect they deserve, but I cannot see eye to eye on this one. I can completely understand why-- this is an extremely accessible and very catchy album. Dare I go as far as saying the epitome of commercialized extreme metal? If this is your type of thing then great, but I personally can't find anything of any particular merit to prove that Legend is anymore than pure hype.
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