The Underground Sounds Of America: Abigail Williams
Perhaps the most impressive thing about Abigail Williams is their perseverance. Originally formed in Phoenix, Arizona, the band — comprised of multi-instrumentalist Ken Sorceron and a bevy of live and studio players — first emerged in the mid-2000s, playing a kinetic brand of irate black metal that endeared both hardcore fans and right-hand-path kvltists (basically everyone uninterested in the booming hipster black meal movement of the time). Since then, they’ve migrated from the desert to the overcast landscape of Washington and altered their sound to add new layers of subtlety and atmosphere, and yet through it all Abigail Williams has not only remained active, but thrived.
“I think the main thing is that when the band first started in Arizona, I didn’t have access to as many musicians to work with,” says Ken. “As the band became more well known and I met more people, it led to being able to work with a lot more like-minded musicians, people who have similar goals in trying to push things further in a more diverse range while still having a shared love of certain sounds. Washington is definitely one of the ultimate states for writing this type of music, however, the environment lends itself well to sparking inspiration.”
That newly-driven ingenuity can be heard on Walk Beyond The Dark, the band’s upcoming fifth full-length album. Though still firmly planted more on the battlefield than in the snowy forest, the record has a yearning in its riffs and rhythms that some might not immediately associate with Abigail Williams’s early work. And yet that sonic maturation — as can be heard on the new single Ever So Bold, streaming exclusively below — has driven Ken’s creative fecundity; the frontman wrote over 20 songs for this new record, of which only seven made the cut.
“There’s always going to be songs that don’t make it on the album,” says Ken, “and sometimes they just hang out and no one ever hears them or sometimes they could end up on the next album if it works out musically. In this case, two of the songs on this album were actually written before the last album came out. They didn’t fit the vibe on that one, but for this album they were perfect. The others could end up on future albums — sometimes they’re just waiting for the right mood to sit in with, and sometimes they get polished here and there over the years until they’ve been perfected, like with The Final Failure.”
Before blasting our exclusive premiere of Ever So Bold (featuring Justin McKinney of The Zenith Passage and formerly of The Faceless), scroll down to read about how Abigail Williams have persevered, grown, and survived where so many others have perished.
1) If you had to play a newcomer one Abigail Williams track to introduce them to the band, what would it be, and why?
Probably Beyond The Veil. It’s one of my favorites still, and it’s long enough to get a feel for what the band is all about, showing a little bit of everything.
2) Who would be on Abigail Williams’ dream tour?
Metallica, of course, mid-’80s, Cliff Burton still alive. Or Ministry ’89-’91. Both require a time machine.
3) Who would you say are Abigail Williams’ five biggest musical influences?
Most of these you probably couldn’t tell, but off the top of my head:
4) The new album’s cover art and title seem like part of a move in a less warlike, more metaphysical direction for Abigail Williams. Is that intentional, or just how the music has developed over time?
Well, the music has definitely evolved a lot over the years from album to album. I try to do something new so that it stays interesting for me. On this album, I wanted to bring together some of the elements from the previous albums while also exploring some new territory sonically. I tried to maintain some of the atmosphere of the last couple releases while going for a more polished, clean production unlike the last two records which used a grittier, more lo-fi approach. That’s what the mood called for on those two, as sometimes you want that washed-out fuzz to cloak the sound and add to the ambience like a layer of fog.
Other times you want to peel back the veil and let the details speak for themselves and echo in the void. Walk Beyond The Dark embraces space and lets you hear everything with clarity, and often it can be more powerful to have that sense of pressure and depth in a large open space than a claustrophobic one, like the opening to Born of Nothing.
5) In your opinion, why, when so many other American black metal bands have crapped out or gone derivative, have Abigail Williams stayed alive?
I think it’s a combination of not paying attention to what people have to say about the band, whether it’s in print or in the comments section, and just staying true to whatever we feel like doing at the time. Just don’t care about what anyone thinks and make the music you genuinely want to make, because when you get caught up in what other people want, you’re going to give them something they’ve already had a million times before, and then nobody is happy anyway. Might as well do it on your own terms so you can enjoy what you make at the very least.
Listen to an exclusive stream of Abigail Williams’s new single, Ever So Bold, below:
Abigail Williams’s Walk Beyond The Dark comes out Friday, November 15 on Blood Music, and is available for preorder.
Catch the band on one of their upcoming North American tour with Ensiferum, Kalmah, and Aenimus at one of the dates below:
15 – Reading, PA – Reverb
16 – Ottawa, ON – Maverick’s
17 – Montreal, QC – Corona Theater
18 – Toronto, ON – The Opera House
19 – Chicago, IL – Reggies
20 – Kansas City, MO – The Riot Room
21 – Denver, CO – Oriental Theater
23 – Calgary, AB – Dickens
24 – Vancouver, BC – Rickshaw Theater
25 – Seattle, WA – El Corazon
26 – Portland, OR – Bossanova Ballroom
27 – Oakland, CA – Metro Opera House
29 – Los Angeles, CA – Echoplex
30 – San Diego, CA – Brick by Brick
01 – Mesa, AZ – Club Red
02 – El Paso, TX – Rockhouse Bar & Grill
03 – Dallas, TX – Gas Monkey Live!
05 – Lexington, KY – Manchester Music Hall
06 – TBA
07 – Boston, MA – Paradise Rock Club
08 – Brooklyn, NY – The Warsaw
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