Abigail Williams

In the Absence of Light

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Disclaimer: all highly subjective claims accusing Abigail Williams of being symphonic black metal poseurs will be ignored in the course of this review. Deal with it. After all, the New York-based group has suffered enough prejudice from genre extremists due to a momentary dalliance in metalcore early on in its career (a prejudice ironically very similar to that suffered by the historical figure that inspired this band's name), not to mention the relatively commercial style of synth-wrought orchestral black metal heard on the group's first album. Many observers believed this style owed way too much to England's widely reviled (and contradictorily wildly successful) Cradle of Filth, whose perceived opportunism (and, yes, frequently crap music) made them black metal's ultimate sellout poster boys, but it's simply not fair to condemn Abigail Williams to the very same death sentence so soon -- especially in light of the band's much improved second album, 2010's In the Absence of Light, which reveals a perfectly competent and oftentimes quite engaging collision of vicious aggression and ambitious songwriting grandeur. Yes, it's true that Abigail Williams are still deriving most of their ideas from other established black metal names, but at least they're now reaching for the higher standards established by the likes of Dimmu Borgir and Bal-Sagoth (see "Final Destiny of the Gods," "In Death Comes the Great Silence," etc.), instead of Dani Filth's merry crew. Heck, AW even achieve convincing shades of Emperor on the hauntingly epic highlight "The Mysteries that Bind the Flesh." Certainly, there is still nothing groundbreaking to be found on In the Absence of Light, but when you consider that 99 percent of the musical universe is guilty of committing the same sin, Abigail Williams' premature burning at the stake by black metal's self-proclaimed purists is hereby conclusively ruled as rank and unfair discrimination. Just sayin'. The defense rests, your honor.

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