Author: Brendan Blake
- Artist: Abigail Williams
- Album: In The Absence Of Light
- Year of Release: 2010
- Country: USA
- Label: Candlelight
- Format: Jewelcase CD
- Catalogue Number: CANDLE238CD
Quite early on into the great undertaking of BD Joyce and I to review our respective record collections alphabetically, I am forced to address a particular issue – that of the mediocre record. I personally have a massive soft spot for middle of the road black and death metal, which means I am more than happy to sit and listen to these middle-stream albums, say, over Sunday lunch (as I am doing now), without feeling the need to wax lyrical about their respective merits. I personally own a vast number of records that are not intrinsically terrible, and I am happy to pass time listening to, but ultimately contribute little to musical or genre history. Abigail Williams are one of those bands that fit into that bracket where if they were a support band to a superior act, or part-way up a festival bill, I’d probably go and check them out, but as a headline act are likely always going to be found somewhat wanting.
So I come to Abigail Williams’ second full-length release, In The Absence of Light. There has been another stylistic shift since their last album, with Ken “Sorceron” (yes, I know black metal pseudonyms are a bit infantile, but sticking to the Ken just highlights the silliness, and not in a good way) basically replacing the previous line-up and stripping out the symphonic (i.e. the keyboard) elements from the previous album and delivering a much more straightforward version of Euro melodic black metal. Emperor and Dimmu Borgir remain obvious touchstones, but to the band’s credit there is an increased emphasis on melodic soloing that recalls classic acts such as Maiden and Priest. While the masters have acknowledged their older influences (Emperor, Ihsahn (solo), Dimmu Borgir, Cradle of Filth for instance), it is pleasing to see these still permeating with younger acts.
This is a highly credible, well-executed piece of melodic black metal (no metalcore here, before anyone says it). It’s well-produced and I’m certainly not not enjoying listening to it, but I doubt it has the sticking power of anything classic, important, or groundbreaking, even within such a mini “sort of” genre as melodic black metal.