It’s the time of year when people who make year-end lists start the tortuous mental process of sifting and ranking what they’ve heard. We’ll be doing that soon, but we’re also looking further down the road in anticipation of what 2015 will bring. And one record it will bring that’s already on our list of highly anticipated new releases is the next album by Abigail Williams.
Today we’re fortunate to bring you a couple of teasers for what the album holds in store, as well as some words from vocalist/guitarist Ken Sorceron about the new album.
What you’re about to hear are two early versions of songs that will appear on the band’s fourth album coming next year via Candlelight Records, the successor to 2012’s excellent Becoming: “Forever Kingdom of Dirt” and “Will, Wish and Desire”. The very talented line-up for these recordings is as follows — with one special guest:
Ken Sorceron — vocals, guitar
Ian Jekelis — guitar
Jeff Wilson (Wolvhammer, ex-Nachtmystium) — guitar
Charlie Fell (Lord Mantis, ex-Nachtmystium, Von) — drums
Will Lindsay (Indian, ex-Wolves in the Throne Room) — bass
Neill Jameson (Krieg, Twilight) — guest vocals and lyrics on “Forever Kingdom of Dirt”
The two songs were produced by Sorceron, recorded mainly in the band’s practice space in Chicago and mixed where he now lives in L.A. Before they are finalized for the album, there will be different mixes and masters, and possibly some re-tracking, but as things now stand the songs are already fantastic.
“Forever Kingdom of Dirt” is rough, raw, and grim, much of it sounding like a hopeless night at an overworked trauma unit, with more broken bodies than there are hands to save them. It begins with a fusillade of blasting and then pulls back into a bleak, slow-rolling rhythm with an otherworldly ambiance. These divergent states trade places, the assault and the fallout, until the mid-point — when the song begins to transform after a harrowing shriek.
And what follows, like a beating heart at the bitter black core of the song, is an absolutely killer melodic hook, a rocking riff accompanied by a rumbling drum beat that’s going to infiltrate the memory of anyone who hears it. You should also prepare yourself to be scalded by a vocal acid bath — as usual, N. Imperial holds nothing back
The shimmering guitar solo at the beginning of “Will, Wish and Desire” digs the hooks in even earlier than the preceding song, and the pulsating vitality of the music never lets up. Anchored by a compulsive rock beat and bursts of double-bass, the song drives with infectious energy, with flashing guitars and sweeping melody.
It’s a layered, multi-textured, addictive piece of music, and at least to these ears there’s an uplifting, open-armed, soul-baring quality to the song, and its emotional intensity is magnified by Sorceron’s absolutely searing vocals.
Abigail Williams have never stayed rooted in one place for very long, and these songs are a sign that their musical evolution continues. If the rest of the album is on par with these two tracks, it’s going to be a highlight of 2015.
I asked Sorceron for any thoughts he wanted to share with us about the songs or the album, and here is his response:
“In early 2014 we started touring again and resumed the writing and recording of a new album in Chicago at our practice spot. Though we had started work on this album in late 2012, 2013 was spent working on the Lord Mantis album and dealing with various degrees of grease in our personal lives. After we got the bulk of the production down in Chicago, I ended up moving to Los Angeles to try and straighten out my life while periodically resuming production, and this is the result of our work.
“We wanted to release a couple songs this year while they are still at least somewhat fresh to us since we have no idea when the actual album will come out for various reasons, but we hope that it will be spring of 2015. Life keeps getting in the way of completion, but that’s to be expected when you have burned as hard as most of us have over the years working on music and ignoring the rest of your life; it eventually catches up with you.
“Musically this album is very diverse, and the overall vibe is way more negative compared to our last album, Becoming. Artistically, this is the best lineup I’ve had the pleasure to work with over the years. You can hopefully expect an announcement about artwork and an album title before the end of the year — the art is being handled by Stevie Floyd (Taurus, Dark Castle) — but for now enjoy these two songs.”