In The Shadow Of A Thousand Suns
posted on 11/2008 By:
Competent but rather faceless Dimmu Borgir worship from New York City...
I’ll admit I’ve always had high hopes for Abigail Williams, partly due to their early ties to Vehemence (Bjorn Dannov is the only remaining tie), and I enjoyed their debut EP, Legend. However, when recently assaulted by American symphonic black metal from Sothis, Blood Stained Dusk and such (and compared to other American releases from the likes of acts like Dreamscapes of the Perverse, The Funeral Pyre, Veneficum), the whole "we REALLY want to sound European” sound loses some of its impact.
Despite being a solid album, the one fundamental flaw when you compare Abigail Williams to their actual, European brethren (i.e Alghazanth, Anorexia Nervosa, and even Dimmu and Cradle), is that they sound like an American band trying ever so hard to sound European. Admittedly there’s no traces of 'core what so ever, but with the guitar tone and structures and even the synths you can still envision short haired metalcore kids playing this, and that is essentially what Abigail Williams is. Part of it might be the synths of Ashley Jurgemeyer, who simply never conveys the romanticism and majestic, epic grandeur of her European counterparts, instead coming across as piecemeal and sterile.
Those criticisms aside, this is a decent effort, though it suffers from simply never reaching the next level. It’s tight, blistering and has ample time changes, but when the ample stops spinning, I’m simply not drawn back to it. Apart from new drummer Samus, whom seems naturally fitted to this style to the point where he just seems to be playing slightly faster than everyone else, none of the musicianship really grabs me either. The ten songs swarm by with orchestral ferocity and ample synth tinkering that can’t decide if it’s sweeping and orchestral (“Into the Ashes”) or electronic (i.e. “Acolytes”), the vocals are the usual black screech and there's the requisite atmospheric segue (“A Semblance of Life”). Only the album's mid section of “A Thousand Suns” (with vocalist Ken Sorceron doing a passable Garm/ICS Vortex impersonation), “Into the Ashes” and the very Dimmu–ish “Smoke and Mirrors” makes my ears perk up and take note. Before and after those tracks, it’s all just ‘there’ in all its Dimmu worshipping glory.
Abigail Williams are a good band and this is a good CD, but there are just something the Scandinavians do better; high quality erotica, Vikings, nationalized healthcare and symphonic black metal.
Oh, and on a side note, if you are in a black metal band, you should probably decide as a band whether to have spooky, black metal names or normal names; Introducing yourselves as Samus, Bjornthor, Plaguehammer, Sorceron and then..... Ashley and Mike Smith, just isn't right.
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