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Salem; a small town in New England in the early seventeenth century. A child develops a strange behaviour. She shouts, screams insanities, climbs the wall, breaks objects. Panicked, her parents call a doctor, who detects a diabolical possession. The girl accuses of witchcraft citizens of the city, gives names and lurid details about black masses and other satanic rituals. In this environment stifled by faith, the judicial machine grows mad. Pyres are lit, women are sacrificed for having allegedly addicted to black magic. Then the young accuser mysteriously disappears without a trace or return. Her name? Abigail Williams.
This is also the name of an American black metal band led from the beginning by singer and guitarist Ken Sorceron. Its musical evolution is atypical. First, strongly tinged with core, Abigail Williams adopts amore melodic black sound over the releases, but win no more than limited success. I myself did not like In the Absence of Light (2010), finding it uninspired and monotonous. Now based in Los Angeles, the quintet is launching a third full length called Becoming (2012), taking at the same time an unexpected artistic shift.
Indeed, throughout the listening of this album, I wondered if it was really the group that I thought I knew. The change of style is amazing. This time, Abigail Williams takes the path of ambient/pagan black metal, in the vein of Wolves in the Throne Room or Falls of Rauros. The songs are long, strong and richly constructed with several changes of pace that break any linearity. From the opening track, Ascension Sickness, we perceive the difference: slow crescendo of sounds associated with a harp, followed by a few blasts and a voice shouted out beautifully. While Radiance is shorter and based on a desperate mood, Elestial surprises with its enthusiasm and its complex construction. However, the masterpiece of the album is without a doubt Beyond the Veil, which concludes the ceremony. More than seventeen minutes of beautiful music, steeped in classical instruments and a great atmosphere, interspersed with passages that magnify it. A pure delight.
My astonishment was immense when I first listened this album, produced by a group I do not expect much and whose reputation is fragile. Their merit is all the greater. The American black metal scene made surprising progress in recent years, thanks to groups that know how to innovate and renew the genre. I sincerely hope that this momentum continues. 8/10
Originally written for metalobscur.com