Review Summary: Abigail Williams continues to progress on In the Absence of Light.
Abigail Williams is a pretty interesting band. On their first few demos they played metalcore with black metal and death metal influences, which could also be known as deathcore. Then on their debut full-length album, In the Shadow of a Thousand Suns
, they dropped the metalcore sound and moved towards symphonic black metal. Now with the release of their second full-length album, In the Absence of Light
, they drop the symphonic black metal style and give us a more straight-up black metal album. When listening to this album, some early second wave black metal bands like Dissection and Gorgoroth will probably come to your mind. Abigail Williams is from Arizona, but their sound is rooted heavily in early Scandinavian second wave black metal and this album just shows the way the band has been progressing ever since their demos were released.
The most impressive thing about this album is probably the guitar playing. Ken and Ian share the guitar duties and they're very impressive on this album. If you know anything about this band then you know that they've always been interested in playing pretty much as fast as they can. Well that doesn't change on In the Absence of Light
. The guitars are fast, heavy, and very melodic at the same time. Pretty much all of the riffs on this album are extremely catchy and will stick in your head after you're done listening to the album. There are also a few solos here and there throughout the duration of the album and they're nice to hear when they do come along and they're executed very well. The guitars are the most important aspect of this album and they're definitely at the forefront, unlike on the last album where the main focus was the keyboards and symphonic arrangements. The guitar work here is pretty technical, at least for a black metal album, and it wouldn't be out of place on some death metal albums. The drumming is the same way. The drummer Ken also opts for the very fast and brutal style. This album is full of blast beats and lightning fast drum sections, but they can also slow it down when they need to, which isn't very often. All the instruments are impressive on this album. You never get the feeling that they're out of rhythm or that they're playing sloppy. Another thing you'll notice about this album is that the keyboards are gone. The symphonic arrangements are gone. Abigail Williams obviously wanted to move away from symphonic black metal and move towards a pure black metal sound and they accomplished that.
Vocals on this album are also very well done. Ken is also the vocalist for Abigail Williams and his style has progressed over the years with the bands sound. On the early demos he had a very high pitched scream, almost as if he was trying to imitate the sound of Dani Filth's voice on the first few Cradle of Filth albums as well as having a low-pitched death grunt. On the first full-length he dropped the death vocals and stuck with the "Dani" banshee scream. Well on this album he starts to find his own voice. While the sound of his voice is still very high-pitched, he stops trying to scream as high as he possibly can. Like I said, his voice is still very high-pitched, but you can tell that he is trying to be himself now and therefore, has a better performance. Don't get me wrong, his vocals on the first album were very good, it just seems like he's maturing and really working towards finding his own voice and it seems like he really accomplished that on this album
Overall, this album is a fantastic progression for Abigail Williams. They show here that they're not messing around and they really do take themselves seriously. If you never like this band because they sounded too much like mainstream black metal bands like Cradle of Filth, Dimmu Borgir, Old Man's Child, etc then chances are you'll probably like this album. Their days of symphonic black metal and deathcore are long gone and they sound more like a mix of Dissection and faster black metal bands like Gorgoroth or Marduk on this album. There's a great atmosphere on this album as well. It's very cold and dark, something you might not expect from a band from Arizona. Like I said earlier though, their sound is heavily rooted in early Scandinavian black metal. So if you're a fan of some of the "classic" second wave bands, then there's really no reason at all why you wouldn't like In the Absence of Light
. And if you hated the last album just because it had the "symphonic" tag on it, then do yourself a favor and listen to this album because I guarantee it will surprise you.