Author: Brendan Blake
- Artist: Abigail Williams
- Album: In The Shadow Of A Thousand Suns
- Year of Release: 2008
- Country: USA
- Label: Candlelight
- Format: Jewelcase CD
- Catalogue Number: CANDLE292CDSE
What a difference a couple of years can make. The Legend EP proved somewhat divisive, with its mix of keyboard-driven black metal, Swedish-style melodeath, and metalcore moments – including oft-criticised melodic vocals. Abigail Williams’ first full-length jettisons wholesale the majority of the latter influences in favour of a much more straightforward symphonic black metal style, with wins and losses for the band in the process.
Sonically, the band has moved towards a much safer and more familiar European style of black metal – melodic as before, and clearly aiming towards the Scandinavian greats of Emperor, Dimmu Borgir, Covenant, Borknagar, and even Arcturus, although there is still the whiff of Cradle Of Filth in places (no bad thing). The Emperor connection is reinforced by the employment of Trym Torson on drums for about three-quarters of the record, and he does a predictably devastating job delivering the blastbeats. Ken Sorceron has decided to focus on vocals, while apparently also supplying bass; the bass is near-inaudible in the mix, and appears to purely follow the guitars, but that is hardly a criticism, as this is de rigeur for much black metal. His vocals stick to a fairly standard black metal rasp, although occasionally delving into deeper death metal growling, and notably on ‘A Thousand Suns’ bursting into a clean vocal far removed from that employed on Legend, and much closer to ICS Vortex of Dimmu/Arcturus/Borknagar, although not yet as accomplished. Still, the variety helps lift this from mere tedium to something slightly more colourful.
The keyboards are well-employed, but strangely high in the mix, although this is true of many symphonic/melodic black metal bands of the time – and indeed of the mid-90s. And I think this is where my issue with this album lies – I want to like it an awful lot more than I actually do. It’s well-produced, well-executed, and well-presented, but it just leaves me a bit cold, and not in a good way. It’s perfectly fine, and clearly worships at the feet of much greater bands – right down to the album cover, clearly invoking Emperor and Dissection albums of old. It’s certainly no disgrace, but call me heretical, I think I actually prefer their more all-over-the-place EP, which showed an intriguing mix of what could be done when you mix black metal, death metal, and metalcore. This is a good example of middle-of-the-road symphonic black metal, made by Americans a good 10 years after this form was perfected by the European black metal scene. Not in any way bad, just generic – and by 2008 already sounding dated, but not in a retro way.