Abigail Williams, Ghost Bath, WOLVHAMMER

Abigail Williams

In a glutted underworld of black metal, Abigail Williams may be just the band to spark some life and vibrancy back into the wavering genre. The group's second full album, In The Absence of Light, taps into the spirit of the band's chosen style but injects it with intricate touches of classic and thrash metal. Raw, but clear production and a venomous zeal, it is as infectious as it is lethal.

"The whole record is pretty bleak and depicts a world completely void of light," says frontman Sorceron. "And I think it's just a product of the environment we live in and a reflection of the way I see humanity heading."

In some ways, In The Absence of Light is true to the rules of black metal. The vocals are harsh and shrill, sounding like the product of a lacerated larynx. The guitars buzz, rip and roar alongside articulate, rapid licks and blazing solos. And the drums slam and crash like exploding mortar shells, whether battering with blast beats, double-bass rolls or syncopated snare hits. There is just the right amount of haunting keyboard washes, though the keys (all played by Sorceron) take a definitive back seat to those on Abigail Williams' 2008 disc In The Shadow of a Thousand Suns.

"I like keyboards, but before we started this record we decided to get rid of a lot of them because we wanted to do something different. We don't want to make the same record over and over."

In addition to scrapping the keyboard overload, Sorceron did away with the studied, belabored work ethic he had when he wrote In The Shadows of a Thousand Suns. All of the songs for In the Absence of Light were written and recorded in a frenzied four weeks between February and March 2010. And while none of the songs on the album sound rushed, they're filled with gripping urgency and immediacy.

"We kept everything raw and didn't allow ourselves to embellish anything," Sorceron says. "When it was time to do the lyrics, I wrote them the same day I performed them on the record. We wanted to take a real spontaneous approach and not over think anything. I'm really proud of what we did."

Abigail Williams tracked In the Absence of Light at Conquistador Studios in Cleveland, Ohio. For the first three weeks, the band collaborated in ways unlike previous recordings. Sorceron, guitarist Ian Jekelis and drummer Ken Bedene jammed out ideas working as a collective unit. "I only had two songs written when we came into the studio," reveals Sorceron. "We literally played and recorded for hours. Then we would listen back and pick out what we thought was good and we'd start to put songs together."

In the Absence of Light was produced by Sorceron with additional engineering assistance by Cole Martinez. The album was mixed by the legendary Peter Tagtgren (Hypocrisy, Dimmu Borgir, Immortal). "Peter was amazing," Sorceron says. "I sent him rough mixes of how I wanted things to sound, and he surpassed what I wanted. He left intact the sound sonically and left the rawness in there and he mixed it quickly, too, which I prefer for our sound. I couldn't have asked for the record to come out better."

Formed in 2005, Abigail Williams is named after the eleven year old girl who was one of the first two accusers in the Salem witch trials of 1692. After touring exhaustively, the band released their debut EP Legend in 2006. Touring continued leading the band in 2008 to enter the studio with producer James Murphy (ex-guitarist of Death, Disincarnate and Testament) to track their full-length debut In the Shadows of a Thousand Suns. The album featured a guest performance from Emperor/Zyklon drummer Trym Torson. More touring and a rash of lineup changes followed before Abigail Williams went to Cleveland for In the Absence of Light.

"We did it in Cleveland because it's one of the grimmest cities I've ever been in," Sorceron says. "It's where we wrote the last album as well. There's just something about the city that fits this music. It's a crappy, dark, cold place, especially in the winter. It's already a ghost of a place and the winter really amplifies that. I couldn't wait to get back to New York afterwards, but I think being in Cleveland allowed us to capture the vibe we were after." With the band's strongest lineup to date and best material so far, Abigail Williams are prepared to change people's preconceptions about what black metal is supposed to be. In September the band will tour North America with Immolation, Vader, Lecherous Nocturne and Pathology and, while they plan to be more selective than they've been in the past about bills they'll play, Abigail Williams hope to spread the black magic onstage until their name is synonymous with the progenitors of the genre that once inspired them.

Ghost Bath refers to the act of committing suicide by submerging one's self in a body of water. Ghost Bath writes and creates under the assumption that music is an extension of one's own soul. They journey through the sorrow and sadness that all lives experience, but leave a glimmer of hope. They portray both deep anguish and angelic soundscapes that are sure to leave an impression on the listener.

The band began in October of 2013 with the release of their self-titled EP on Solitude Productions (China). This was followed by their debut LP titled, "Funeral," which was released on Pest Productions (China) in June of 2014. "Moonlover," their latest LP was released originally on Northern Silence Productions (Germany) and is now being re-released through Nuclear Blast Entertainment.

"Our cowardice to succumb to the ultimate release of death in suicide leaves us ambling the paths of gravesites at night. And the reflection of the moon guides us so. Isolation, longing, darkness, the night, and coming to terms with an extreme form of introversion would best describe the ideas behind Moonlover.

This mixture of beauty and pain is something we've embraced since day one." - "Nameless"

Moonlover is the first part of a trilogy of albums we plan to release. It encompasses the human experience and dwells within the minds of those who walk the earth. It deals with a longing for death and an eventual journey to realize the death instinct, Thanatos. A sort of numb sadness drenches this albums tracks; melancholy, tragedy, and despair all take hold of Moonlover at any given moment. The album could be compared to Dante's Purgatorio, the middle ground of the spirit world. The moon also is of importance as the ruling celestial body of the night on earth. The perception of the moon comes at a time of isolation and solitude.

The bonus track, "Ascension," is a transitional point for both the band as an entity and musical direction of the albums to come. The title refers to a journey into the heavens, a hint to where the next installment of our album trilogy will go. We feel that it envelopes the sounds of Moonlover, while also leading the listener to what will come next.

The music video for "Golden Number" was birthed from a short story written by Nameless. It is an introduction into the band as a whole, revealing the definition of Ghost Bath; the act of committing suicide by drowning. Symbolism can be found throughout the video ritual, mainly, the symbolic and literal death of oneself as an ultimate solution to the unrelenting anxieties and stressors of waking life.

A recently found note...

"He walked the graveyard every night. I watched from my bedroom window. His pitch black cloak fluttered in the wind and the silhouette of his sauntering walk proved hard to catch in the darkness of the graves beneath the trees. It was after a few months of observing that I decided to follow him. He admired the many tombstones and crypts before turning down an abandoned part of town. I tucked my head into the front of my sweater to brave the cold and kept back as to not alert him.

We arrived at a broken down shack of a home and he walked down a set of wooden stairs. I could hear whispers and screams coming from the basement and, as much as I wanted to turn around right there, I did not falter, continuing into the abyss. A small crowd gathered near what I presumed to be a stage. They chatted quietly under sounds of agony projecting from behind a nearby door. A small amount of candlelight revealed music equipment on stage ready to be played.

Before long the tortured screams came to an end. The mysterious door opened and group of robed individuals solemnly ambled towards the instruments in a single file line. The crowd shushed itself quickly and all eyes turned. With equipment in hand, most of the candles were blown out leaving an eerie atmosphere. A soft intro was played on the piano in the corner. It was beautiful.

Then something strange happened. As the piano intro ascended into intense chords, complicated scales, and heartfelt melodies, a pure, porcelain bathtub was carried into the room. A few members of the audience set candles around the tub while others filled the bath with clear water. An aroma of lily-of-the-valley filled the room and danced in unison with the passionate sound of piano keys.

Soon, the guitars sprang forth. The beginning chords were loud and startled me. When the full band entered a song all at once my heart almost couldn't take it. Delicate guitars, alluring keys, and an unrelenting drum sound saturated the cellar air. It comforted me more than I ever imagined music could. When the vocalist began his howls of anguish, I knew this was something different. His arms shown vivid crimson gashes that told the story of a lonely and disturbed soul. Contrast of uplifting, almost angelic, music and the vocalist's deep pain created conflict that spoke to me. Not a dry eye existed in the place. The first tune finished with more piano and all I could hope for was more.

A stunningly gorgeous woman strolled onto the stage after a good amount of songs had been played. Her jet black hair nestled on her shoulders. She also wore a robe and released it onto the ground near the bath. Her arms, thighs, and stomach exposed a life lived in depression. Scars marked her otherwise perfect flesh. She gazed upward and stepped into the frigid tub one foot at a time. She lied down and her face sunk in clear liquid. Her auroral jade eyes remained visible in the water. I shot a stare to the others around but not one of them moved.

Swells in the continuing music released all tension. My thoughts propelled into brilliance visions soaring through the clouds above. Before the magnificent bridge came to an end the woman gaped her mouth wide. Her jaw remained in eternal yawn. As water filled her lungs, a smile grew on her pale cheeks. She floated to the top of the bath - lifeless.

Such conflict of emotions. Such a contrast of distress and euphoria. When the song concluded I quickly regained my senses. I had just witnessed someone taking their own life. My heart raced as a shiver ran down my arms. Before the next song could begin I found myself sprinting up the splintered staircase and through the graveyard -the sleeping fields. Sleep did not come easy.

No signs of the previous night's events existed upon my return the next morning. I scoured the deserted home without success. But just as I decided to give up my eyes caught a glimpse of two words carved into the bottom wooden stair: "Ghost Bath."

Minneapolis's Wolvhammer can't decide what they are, and that's the best part. Black Metal? Post-metal? Crust? Sludge-doom? ...



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