Abigail WIlliams
Walk Beyond the Dark

You know the whole “Glow Up” thing?

Basically, people on social media post a side-by-side photo comparison of themselves when they were younger, more awkward, and not quite fully developed – next to a recent photo of their more grown up, mature, and (assumedly) more attractive selves. A modern-world representation of The Ugly Duckling, if you will.

From a cynical point of view, it’s just another attention-grab for people desperate for likes and approval from people they will never have to physically interact with. From an optimists’ point of view, it’s a means to show kids today that however weird and out-of-place you may feel in your life now, things can and do get better with time (and before I get into my usual bullshit, I cannot stress enough how important influences like these are to today’s youth).

To that end, Abigail Williams should be used as a prime example of a “Glow Up” to inspire young metalheads to keep working their craft.

If you had told me in 2006 when Ken Sorceron dropped the band’s first EP Legend, that almost 15 years later he’d release an album like Walk Beyond the Dark, I flat-out wouldn’t believe you. I’d have bet you ANYTHING the band wouldn’t make it more than a couple years before fading into the ether (and I’d have technically been right! As they briefly broke up as a band in 2007). Even listening to it now, with the proof directly in front of me, it’s difficult to fully comprehend. But alas; the ugly duckling that once struggled to blend an awkward cocktail containing parts Dimmu Borgir, The Black Dahlia Murder and Bleeding Through– has blossomed into a fully mature, beautiful beast of progressive, melodic black metal brimming with the kind of atmosphere that would make Enslaved step back and take notice.

Granted, the path Sorceron has taken to get to Walk Beyond the Dark has been an ever-evolving one. At times, it honestly felt more like aimless meandering than creative exploration. This is very evident throughout Abigail Williams’ catalogue of music, and as a result, it was always a struggle to really find any real identity with this project. With this album, Sorceron seems to have finally found his groove, and delivers his most confident, self-aware release to date.

Epic 10+ minute tracks like “Black Waves” and closer “The Final Failure” still show his willingness to take songs in a myriad of directions, but while past efforts may have felt clunkier or more forced (or in some cases like “Beyond The Veil” on 2012’s Becoming, just long for the sake of being long), this time around they progress much more naturally, making for wholly cohesive, satisfying efforts that are a pure joy from start-to-finish.

More comparatively straightforward songs like “Ever So Bold” and “Into the Sleep” still offer a depth of controlled, focused energy and complexity that Sorceron struggled to achieve with this much success on prior efforts, both boasting some of the album’s catchiest melodies and harmonies – think Ghost Bath minus the, uh, divisive vocals.

Sorceron has also managed to bring some former elements of Abigail Williams’ back catalogue back into the mix, albeit in much more subtle and successful ways. Where in early efforts he really put grandiose, epic orchestrations to the forefront, here he layers in some really beautiful string elements that give much of the album an almost dreamlike quality. Some clean vocals even make it back into the fold – used much more sparingly and, to these ears, much more cleverly than they were on early records; adding an element that once stuck out like a sore thumb, but now serve as real highlights on the album.

While Ken Sorceron’s musical talent was never in question, his journey with Abigail Williams has been fraught with inconsistency, almost as if it was never really a finished product. Now, after over a decade, it seems he’s finally really found himself. For anyone who may have stopped paying attention or simply given up on this project, I strongly recommend giving it one more shot with this record – because I genuinely think you’ll be really nicely surprised. I know I certainly was. Abigail Williams has glowed the fuck up.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Steve K
February 18th, 2020


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