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Black metal? Sort of. - 70%

broomybroomybroomy, July 16th, 2012

Abigail Williams is a band that began as "symphonic blackened metalcore" and has since abandoned it to attempt a more purist form of black metal. They've completely dropped the breakdowns, and mostly dropped the synthesizers. I've noticed that black metal elitists hate them for trying, and mallcore kids hate them for abandoning their original sound. However, I am going to try to be a little more impartial. I have listened to the record a few times and have decided that this record isn't terrible.

Now, the first thing I recognized was that most of the guitar riffs are pretty simple. It's like they write the kind of riffs that one would teach in an "Introduction to Black Metal" course. Most of them flow pretty well, one after another, at predictable intervals. Throughout most of this record, nothing really begs for my attention and nothing really sounds grating to me. There are dual-guitars, one usually layered over the other by playing its root chords. It's very formulaic; it plays it safe. Occasionally, something will catch me by surprise, but it will lapse and I'll be waiting patiently again for the next moment.

The second thing I noticed was that, although the music is structurally black metal, I don't think it is spiritually black metal. The music is always played at a lethargic, moderate pace. It's like the music is almost mechanical. There is no chaos to be found here, which is usually at the heart of black metal. I would describe the sound as a little more "hypnotic." In lieu of synthesizers, the band often uses guitar effects to attempt an eerie, foreboding sound. During "In Death Comes the Great Silence," you'll hear the same oddly entrancing guitar riff, complemented by a crescendo of percussion. For some reason, it's one of their best moments in this album. I think their strong areas are their deliberately repetitive, melodic riffs. The sound quality is crystal-clear, so it sounds even less like traditional black metal. I'm really baffled at how I can't truly call it black metal, but I can't see myself calling it anything else. All the elements that comprise black metal are there, but it sounds extremely accessible and uninspired.

Despite the plethora of cookie-cutter black metal riffs, there are a few good moments to be found in this album. It's just mostly bland and a little cool, which is more than I can say for a lot of music.