I've never been a fan of Abigail Williams, but I am now. The teaser tracks sandblasted the skin from my bones. Another group featuring the enigmatic Charlie Fell (main duties on drums here), I hear a lot of similarities to Lord Mantis in the demented, profane shrieks and dissonant melodies. But Abigail Williams is far more grounded in black metal than groovy sludge. Blastbeats abound within cavernous recording spaces, joined by absolutely vile, aggressive tremolo. The approach is more similar to that of Pale Chalice.
But what helps the aggression go from incredible to masterful are the little tricks that offer misguiding reprieve. That sudden pause on "Path of Broken Glass," for instance, is some maniacal trickery that makes me grin every time. Then there's the slower doomier passages of tracks like of "Of The Outer Darkness" and "Forever Kingdom of Dirt" to again lull us into an, albeit bleak, but no less alluring sense of security. "Will, Wish, and Desire" even takes a sudden turn out of minor chord variations into strangely hopeful guitar lines and solos to offset the continued howling.
Whether you are enjoying the nihilistic musings of "Godhead" or the burning buildings of "Lost Communion," you will be enjoying yourself. I certainly knew I was. There is a lot of slower material that I was not expecting from hearing the singles, but it all works better for it. Even that surprising conclusion seemed to fit just fine despite being a pretty noticeable change in sound and atmosphere. It's best not to overthink it. Just let it take hold.
The Accuser is Abigail Williams' fourth full-length album, and from what I hear, a major departure for the better. The lovely artwork was completed by local Portland-based illustrator Stevie Floyd and features guest appearances from the aforementioned Charlie Fell (Missing, Cobalt, Negative Mantra), as well as Will Lindsay (Wolves In The Throne Room, Nachtmystium, Indian), Jeff Wilson (Wolvhammer, Negative Mantra), and Neill Jameson (Krieg, Twilight). The result is some aggressive, twisted USBM worthy of touring with anyone from Absu to Immortal. Check it out today on Candlelight and support the group for a very fair price of $7.50.