Abigail Williams – Becoming

Abigail Williams

Becoming

01. Ascension Sickness
02. Radiance
03. Elestial
04. Infinite Fields of Mind
05. Three Days of Darkness
06. Beyond the Veil

[01/24/11]
[Candlelight Records]

Abigail Williams were always a divisive band in the realm of black metal. You could probably accurately pin it on a number of factors, including their roots in deathcore and the fact that they don’t particularly look the part. However, the LA-based band have been undergoing a transformation into a full-fledged black metal band, thanks in part to a revolving door lineup policy. Becoming, their appropriately-titled third record, sees the polarizing band evolving into an atmospheric black metal band akin to the likes of Wolves in the Throne Room and Agalloch. Yes, I’m serious; and no, it isn’t bad. In fact, it’s quite good.

Long gone are the days that Abigail Williams are associated with blatant reach for sex appeal with female keyboard players and a core-based sound. Their transformation into a legitimate black metal band has gone another step further, growing into at atmospheric black metal sound since 2010’s symphonic black metal record In The Absence of Light. Blackened doom soundscapes permeate throughout Becoming, taking influence from the aforementioned WITTR and Agalloch, as well as showing off their self-proclaimed love of post-rock and post-metal a la Isis and Godspeed You Black Emperor. They’ve certainly reached their opus with this sound as well, outdoing some of those that have been doing it for years.

The thing about this style of music—and I’m speaking solely from an editorial and subjective standpoint—is that it is often difficult to make expansive atmospheric songs engaging and accessible throughout. Becoming is more enthralling than some of the other bands delving into atmospheric and post-black metal, as Becoming manages to avoid being boring, even on their 17-minute closer ‘Beyond The Veil.’  Those turned off by the genre may be able to find comfort in Becoming‘s pensive atmosphere and melodic orchestration that counters the rushing cold black metal sound.

The production is legitimate as well, sounding organic enough to facilitate the black metal aesthetic but clear enough to live up to a modern standard. You wouldn’t know by hearing it, but the drums were recorded at Michael Keene’s studio, a place where drums are typically triggered. A problem with the mix though is that it seems to take the post-black standard of distant drums and vocals and runs with it. Although that isn’t to say the mix is bad; the record still sounds quite good.

Abigail Williams have been shapeshifters for their whole career, but hopefully they can stick with the sound they developed on Becoming. This is a sign of matured musicianship and developed songwriting that can propel them to even greater heights when explored further. Those that wrote the band off initially will likely be eating their words by the time Becoming strikes its last chord, and this opus could have potential as one of the best black metal records we hear this year. Of course, Ihsahn is supposed to be working on his new record, so we’ll see where it goes from here, eh?

Abigail Williams – Becoming gets…

4/5

– JR

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