It just makes sense for Abigail Williams to go to their namesake for inspiration after all these years. The band, much like the real Abigail Williams, has been misunderstood and seemingly on trial over the years. Despite releasing one of 2012’s best black metal records (Becoming), the group’s steadily shifting line-ups and on-again, off-again touring schedule have led to some understandable uncertainty regarding the band. With ringleader (and only original member) Ken Sorceron firing up Abigail Williams version 4.0, this latest version sees the band not trying to outdo Becoming but instead to go in a new and exciting direction.
The new members of Abigail Williams have done time with Lord Mantis and Nachtmystium, so it makes sense that The Accuser is a dark, nihilistic record with a sound deeply rooted in doom and psychedelia. Unlike the pensive and atmospheric Becoming, the band’s fourth record feels like the other side of the coin. While the black metal felt dialed back to compensate for the beautiful tone and thoughtful songs, The Accuser goes straight for the throat, with a thrashy old-school black metal feel and serpentine songwriting. It’s evocative and grim, yet progressive and oddly beautiful (though partially horrifying). The album was clearly a labor love, and listeners can hear that; the album unfolds itself wonderfully with subsequent listens, but there are steamrolling riffs and icy melodies to immediately draw you in.
Abigail Williams has been getting too much shit over the years for having an EP with metalcore elements and an emphasis on keyboards early on. Grow the hell up already and actually listen to the band. Over the past two records, the band has been producing some of the best, most daring American black metal around. Sure, it doesn’t have a pink cover, and they don’t have that “Henry Thoreau with blast beats” thing going on. The Accuser cements Abigail Williams’ status as one of the great American black metal bands, capable of crafting challenging yet rewarding music that rocks as much as it is thoughtful. Sure, The Accuser isn’t exactly a happy listen, but by tackling America’s occult history head-on, Abigail Williams has written possibly its best work yet. (Nicholas Senior)