I often ask myself, “What purpose does music serve? Why does every culture in human civilization, past and present, have music as such an integral part of its culture?” I could go on about how music is divinely inspired and describe its transcendental nature. I could rattle on about Jung’s collective unconscious and the archetypal representations of music and its various elements. I could compare the math of music to the physics of the universe and of creation itself. I could do all that but I won’t. Instead, I shall direct you to the latest Abigail Williams release, Becoming.
Find out why this album is what music is all about right here.
Becoming opens immediately with an ethereal harp melody, quickly accompanied by a whistling wind that stirs a dangling set of chimes. The wind increases in intensity, the chimes shake nervously, the guitar starts up with a simple yet elegant riff, the intensity builds and climaxes with the pounding of drums and a man’s harsh, brackish screams. This description is my feeble attempt at describing the experience that is the first ninety seconds of Becoming.
The entire album is a masterpiece of musical composition and auricular artistry. Each song does its job perfectly at speaking to the intrinsic banality of the human condition and the inherent state of our existence. This is the appeal and the joy of music. This is why, when done right, I am completely enamored with black metal. It speaks to the very center of our being at a most basic level.
The tracks are long and expansive and to some may seem overdone and a sign of perpetual arrogance, but on the contrary Becoming is a black metal contemporary opus done in the classical tradition. Each track is a movement within a single grand work and within each track individual passages that collectively sweep the listener into the cold, dark recesses of introspection. Many may think that I’m off my rocker and that an American band such as Abigail Williams, who has changed their sound with every album, can never truly capture the depth and meaning of “true” black metal. Honestly though, if this was the debut album by Abigail Williams, people would be asking themselves where the hell Sorceron has been all these years.
This may not be on the level of Wolves in the Throne Room’s Celestial Lineage or Agalloch’s Marrow of the Spirit but it comes damn close, as the closing “Beyond the Veil” proves. At 17:31, the production is raw enough to capture the black metal feel yet refined enough to compliment the orchestral arrangements. The tremolo guitar and blasting drums weave there way throughout at perfect times and brings forth images of the cold, grey of winter and subtle and not so subtle changes that occur throughout the winter months (must- not- go- on- a- Jungian- rant). I didn’t notice it until after a few listens, but daaaaamn… Zach Gibson’s (ex-The Black Dahlia Murder) drum work is superbly done here.
I’ve never been an Abigail Williams fan and I may not be in the future, but right now Becoming is on constant rotation and could very well be on my top 10 come the end of the year. If you’re a fan of black metal, pick it up. If you’re an Abigail Williams fan, pick it up but be prepared for another drastic change in sound. If you’re curious about black metal, pick it up. If you don’t know anything about heavy metal, much less black metal, but you’re a fan of music and its colored variety and selection of styles and genres, well then, pick it up!