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(Originally posted by me to the Metal Music Archives: http://www.metalmusicarchives.com/)
Hmmm... Metalcore? Melodic black metal? Symphonic black metal? What flavor will Abigail Williams scoop out for this year's ice cream cone, Becoming? Well, looks like they settled for post black metal, and to be honest, it's quite bitter. It sounds like Wolves in the Throne Room, so I SHOULD like it, but really it might be that very fact that I do not to a full extent. After all, a bar of solid gold and a bar of iron spray painted with gold paint may look similar, but one holds actual value and the other is a cheap imitation even if said imitation does look illustrious.
Quick note: never in this review or any other of mine am I going to use the term "hipster black metal". I've seen other people use it for bands like WITTR, but I do not like using it because 1) It's cliched; and 2) It makes the critic look like they can't come up with any good reason to criticize the album and simply settle with a derogatory, faux genre label.
Wolves in the Throne Room may be the dominant influence on this album as their type of transcendental atmosphere is obviously present, but they're not the only influence. Ken Sorceron's vocals frequently remind me of Malefic from Xasthur mixed with either of the vocal roles from the dudes from Summoning. In "Infinite Fields of Mind", there's wailing tremolo guitar starting at 7:05 that I'm sure I've heard in more than one Nightbringer song. After that section is over in the same song, we've got some Primordial sounding triplet riffing. I guess a good thing to point out is that at least Abigail Williams is for the most part keeping the tempo mostly on the down low so as to avoid looking like they're deliberately ripping on other bands, especially WITTR with their almost constant blast beating; the two exceptions of this being the first half of "Ascension Sickness" and the ending of "Radiance".
That said, there's still some creativity found in Becoming. Mind you, most of it is found in the album's closer "Beyond the Veil". This song, in contrast with the rest of this otherwise average album, is probably one of Abigail William's best. The utilization of the classical strings is excellent, and goes really well if Abigail Williams were trying to really go for the "transcendental" vibe that bands try to go for with this type of black metal. If they made a black metal album with more of this type of soothing string work, it would probably be some sort of spectacle.
As it stands though, Becoming is still rather lackluster when lined up with other black metal albums I've listened to. "Beyond the Veil" and other creative parts save the album from falling below the level of mediocrity, but it's still definitely not an album I'd buy. I am kind of worried for Abigail Williams though if they decide to jump on another bandwagon. Their metalcore days made them unpopular enough already, and there definitely will be people out there calling them bandwagon hipsters for their current transcendental style. For their sake, I hope they don't make a leap that will dig a deeper hole for them like turning into a dubstep band or something. With luck, they'll just go with the aforementioned calm classical instrument infused post black metal and make "Beyond the Veil II" or something.