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In The Absence Of Light
Released: 2010, Candlelight Records
Pointed to by some critics as the epitome of all that's wrong with American black metal upon releasing their 2008 debut, IN THE SHADOW OF A THOUSAND SUNS, Abigail Williams haven’t exactly had an easy ride since they were conceived from the ashes of Sorceron five years ago. Indeed their recent line-up woes would probably have been enough to motivate most to consider a second pre-meditated hiatus, but founding member Ken Bergeron has soldiered on and IN THE ABSENCE OF LIGHT is the fruits of his labors.
Most noticeably any and all traces of metalcore has been stripped from the Abigail Williams blueprint. And let's be fair, there was always less of those subversive elements than a legion of keyboard warriors might have had you believe previously. Here however, the band seem almost to almost self-consciously restrict their musical palette to an endgame that sounds not unlike Cradle of Filth, Dark Funeral and Dimmu Borgir, albeit without the luxury of an exorbitantly expensive production sheen to seal up the cracks - of which there are many. IN THE ABSENCE OF LIGHT may be ambitious, and sincere as you like but this hasn't stopped Abigail Williams from plagiarizing black metal's playbook with little or no forethought for adding any tangibly original ideas of their own to the mix. It gets to the point where even the mildly initiated will find themselves able to forecast with alarming accuracy the progression and pseudo-intricacies of a song like "Infernal Divide" and "What Hell Awaits Me". At their absolute peak, they're able to deliver a track like "An Echo In Our Legends"; a song that's patchy far less often than it is brilliant, flaunting moments of genuine menace with a forlorn thrust that is sadly lacking elsewhere.
A decade ago, IN THE ABSENCE OF LIGHT is an album I may well have scored substantially higher. For its flaws, it's superbly performed but held up against this year's stiffest competition (1349, Burzum etc.), there's simply no comparison. Abigail Williams has all the technical ability to claw their way into black metal's grimmest echelons. Whether they have the songwriting gusto is seriously up for debate.
1. Hope the Great Betrayal
2. Final Destiny of the Gods
3. The Mysteries That Bind the Flesh
4. Infernal Divide
5. In Death Comes the Great Silence
6. What Hells Await Me
7. An Echo In Our Legends
Ken Sorceron – vocals, guitar
Ian Jekelis – guitar
Ken Bedene – drums
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