Sunday, September 30, 2012

Abigail Williams - Legend (2006)

Before ascending to the realm of full on symphonic black(ish) metal, Abigail Williams walked a fine line between these embryonic symphonic elements and sounds rooted in metalcore sensibilities. However, this is by no means as offensive as the palm-muted bro metal that crowds the genre’s arteries today, and Legend is actually quite an enjoyable little excursion.

Yielding to the pull of melodic deathcore rather than the full-blown epic nature of the band’s later years, keyboards still add a layer of grandeur to compositions that are generally of a melodeath slant. Though the obligatory breakdowns do surface, they do not ruin the experience. The musicians are good, and the music itself is fiercely energetic, featuring a good variety of towering, icy passages, slower theatricality, and some sections of all out hurricane blasting. The production is very warm and clear, which imbues a lot of feeling to the compositions. There is a slight classical aspect to Legend as well, lending it brief moments of almost power metal flavoring. All the separate elements emerge into a short genre-blending excursion that should appeal to anyone with an open minded approach to their metal. Vocals are a shrieking blackened style, but channel the attitude and brevity of metalcore barks, sometimes reaching an impressive higher register, akin to Cradle of Filth, though not as abrasive. I was not so fond of the inclusion of emo vocals (I struggle for better descriptors, but ‘emo’ is entirely too accurate), as their whiney nature sounds extremely out of place within this musical context. Thankfully, they aren’t prevalent.

All told, this a pretty good EP. It shows Abigail Williams’ undeniable promise; the roots of their cold, harsh ethereality are present, and Legend forges its own musical identity through a well-done variety of elements. They would end up removing this dynamic juxtaposition, for better or worse, by the time their next outing surfaced. The only negatives brought to the table are a few uninspired breakdowns and some whiney crooning (which is really, really bad; I cannot stress this enough), which are definitely a blemish on an otherwise stellar EP. What I appreciate about Legend is that it just feels like Abigail Williams were having a blast. There’s a sense of youthful excitement abound within Legend that their later projects, though more musically mature, don’t quite capture. It’s that spark that makes the despotic elements forgivable, and makes Legend so much fun.

7 / 10 - Melodic Symphoblackore