After hearing such promising material off of Abigail Williams’ Legend EP it’s a shame to listen to this album. The keys are fantastic, but sadly that’s the only positive thing I can really pull out of this album. The guitars, vocals, and drums are flat and generic sounding. This new age symphonic black metal genre is reserved for very talented musicians and there are very few who successfully pull it off. These guys need to stick to the death metal scene that they perform well in. If you don’t expect much from black metal music then this is probably the album with you. With great bands like Dimmu Borgir and Cradle of Filth to live up to, I see nothing special in any tracks off of this album. With such a promising EP and great potential, Abigail Williams has thoroughly disappointed me.
Abigail Williams, In The Shadow Of A Thousand Suns
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Note: I came into this review expecting to dislike it from all the negative reviews on this page.
The intro is appropriately symphonic… building to something that is definitely black metal in origin, in “The World Beyond.”
The generic BM gives over about a minute to an absolutely gorgeous melodeath interlude where the guitars keep up mid-tone harmony while the keyboards add a purely classical bed. In fact the keyboards added into the mix on this song sets an incredibly eerie and VERY nice feel.
The second song “Acolytes” recreates some classic Emporer and turns it loose with bits of dissonant chords. With about a minute and a half left we get treated to an Arsis-style solo (Celebration-era) that is just downright evil until it crescendos into a few powermetal chords.
And “A Thousand Suns” instantly gives us a Cynic/Death style (more Cynic) of melodic death metal…
and with about 4min left a fantastic breakdown into some classic BM again. And again the keyboards at about 3min giving it a little jazz/fusion element. The ending is also a perfect release, slow and executed well.
Each song picks up in classical complexity from here and succeeds brilliantly. Actually it manages to do what Psycroptic failed to do last year and completely capitalizes on all the opportunities to do something new and crazy with their music. (Not that classical-tinged BM is new, but Abigail Williams does it WELL!)
I’m going to have to buck the trend of the other reviewers here as there’s much more here for me to listen to than a lot of other bands have given me of late–especially American ones. You scene-metalheads complain all the time about bands who don’t give us nordic-style BM/DM in the US, and you’re given one… and you complain about it? (!) I’ve completed 3 spins and I have to say safely that I’ll listen to this more than anything else I picked up so far this year. Of course, there’s still Nile coming up…
Vocally, you could put Black Dahlia into this and you couldn’t tell the difference. But then, the same could be said for most extreme metal. (Only Mikael Åkerfeldt comes to mind as a distinctive DM vocalist. Maybe David Vincent.)
If you’re a “scene-free” metalhead–and liked “Unhallowed” from Black Dahlia Murder–you do a great disservice by not picking this up. If you’re like me and found other “Symphonic Black Metal” bands such as Zonaria a big disappointment, this disc should perk you up.
Let me start off by saying that I’m a big fan of black metal. I saw Abigail Williams in concert a few years back, and while they were great performers I found their music to be uninteresting.
Fast forward a few years and I decided to take another look at Abigail Williams – and am I glad that I did. I didn’t hear any recordings from them until I listened to the samples for this CD on Amazon a few days ago, and I found myself compelled to download the CD so I could experience all it had to offer. From start to finish this is an incredible CD. My only gripe is that at times the synth can sound a little too cheesy (don’t get me wrong, some cheese is ok, it just goes a little over the top for my liking a couple of times).
The musical composition on this album is very well constructed, and the drumming is tight. The guitars and synth compliment each other very well and the vocals are what you’d expect from any decent black metal band. The production is great as well. Do yourself a favor – ignore any of these bad reviews and download this CD immediately. You won’t be disappointed.
I remember listening to these guys a while back thinking “Wow, they’re American?!” I read some reviews about how they’ve been compared to European bands such as Emporer, Dimmu Borgir, etc, and decided I’d buy the CD. I had high hopes that this would be another one of those “timeless classics” that you rarely find anywhere anymore. But unfortunately, as much as I hate to admit it, this CD wasn’t as great as I thought it would be. I love the classical piano passages and the atmospheric synths used throughout the album, they add a whole new perspective to the songs. The overall guitar riffage is right on, can’t really say it’s anything special, but some parts stick out more than others. The drummer is insane on this album, probably my second-favorite instrument other than the keyboards. The vocals, however, are probably the weakest elements in this CD. To be honest, they really… REALLY get on my nerves at some points. The vocalist sounds like he just came in from a mallcore band rehearsal and is trying to go “black metal,” at least in my humble opinion. As much of an extreme metal fan that I am, with all the bands I listen to that scream/growl, I even have my limits. He screams so much in some points where I wish he would just shut up and let the band play. If he had put less high-pitched screams and emphasized more low-pitched death growls, I personally think the whole CD would be much better. But that’s just me.
Overall, this CD is great as far as originality is concerned. I can say that, despite what I mentioned above, at least they’re doing something different from other American bands. Most American metal lately is just weak and predictable. At least with Abigail Williams, you don’t know what’s next. I can’t really say this album is addictive (at least in my case), but if you’re looking for something new, try it out. I’d listen to the samples though before buying.
Upon first hearing the sound of the keys invite us into this album, most are already well familiar with the controversial ep Legend that proceeded this release. That release was embraced by the metalcore, deathcore, and hardcore scenes for it’s metalcore fusion with the black metal genre and for the same reason despised by the metal scene. On this release however, the band leaves the core at the door and comes up with something truly fresh, inspiring, and of course absolutely bathed in black metal. Make no mistake, this album is true to the black metal sound whether it be Emperor (whose drummer Trym provided the percussion for this album) of Norway, Abigor of Austria, or Bathory of Sweden.
The album opens with a well composed and perfectly timed intro on keys to lead us into this album as a lamb being led to the slaughter. The World Beyond opens with a punishing attack of technical drums and guitar work. The song structure is written well and it’s no mistake that when the band took their time writing this record that it paid off for them. The vocals are piercing and inviting to the sound that borders other current black metal bands like 1349. The keyboards are placed extremely well and not over baring. The solo that proceeds the keys standout point on the song is well executed and not too over the top.
Stand out moments are on the final track, where we can hear a melody that is clearly influenced from bands like Satyricon in a medieval metal style. The cleanly sung vocals towards the end strike an influence from the Godfather of black metal, Bathory. Into The Ashes is another standout track with great precision and haunting keyboard work. Smoke and Mirrors has a chapel sounding organ setting from the keys which can remind one of Enthrone Darkness Triumphant or Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk. One can easily forget they are listening to an American band very easily when listening to this album.
By the end of the this song it is apparent that the production is of top notch quality, and that this band has blown worlds past Legend. This album executes great musicianship from excellent guitar work and flawless song structure to immaculate drumming and appropriately placed piano pieces. Abigail Williams are sure to be a band that rises to the top with this release whether it’s doing tours with black metal bands like 1349 or death metal acts like Nile. This album demonstrates they are now a force not to be reckoned with and that those who doubted them are truly eating their words this very day.