Through 15 years, numerous lineup changes and continuous stylistic evolution, Pacific Northwestern extreme-metal veterans Abigail Williams have forged on. Today (November 14th) in Richmond, Virginia, they're kicking off a North American tour with Ensiferum, Kalmah and Aenimus, and tomorrow, the group — fronted by songwriter, vocalist and bandleader Ken Sorceron — will drop their fifth full-length, Walk Beyond the Dark. (You can order a copy here.) Ahead of the big release date, Sorceron has teamed with Revolver to premiere the album right here right now.
"Musically, it's like the ending of one journey and the start of the next," he says of Walk Beyond the Dark. "I feel like I was able to take the entire history of the band, all the different sounds and styles we've experimented with over the years, combine it all into this grand mixture with new twists and turns, and take it to the next level. Even with it serving as a monument of sorts to everything the band has done before, it's not about the past, though.
"It's about closing a chapter and looking forward to what comes next, pushing onward and seeing where we go from here. Anyone who follows the band knows I've always done what's been in my heart, I'm always exploring new things and writing with what's in my head at that time rather than feeling beholden to anything that came before, and this serves as a stepping stone to leap into the unknown."
Get the exclusive early listen to Walk Beyond the Dark above. Below, Sorceron breaks down the album track by track.
"I Will Depart"
This was one of the last songs written for the album. It's in some ways a look back through the history of the band up until now, but also just life in general for me. Opening with the line, "Even innocence cannot avoid decay," and ending with "Hollow words, going nowhere." It's one of the more metallic, riff-based songs on the record.
"Sun and Moon"
This one flows right in from the end of "I Will Depart." Originally, the two were written as the same song, but it seemed pretty unnecessary to have such a punishingly long song open the record, so it was focused into two songs. It's got this moody tribal beat and some of my favorite vocals of the album. "Self chosen pain, shedding my skin."
"Ever So Bold"
"Ever So Bold" starts with relentless drumming and guitar picking that just keep going until the end of the song. It's a favorite amongst friends, who describe it as "brutally beautiful."
This is a song that is meant to be an atmospheric journey. Similar in parts to stuff on Becoming with the atmospheric guitar and cellos, but with some melodies and percussion that bring to mind In the Shadows of a Thousand Suns era. I actually wrote this song back in 2012 right when I first moved to Olympia, but didn't end up using it until now. "Black waves! I face my failures, emptiness eternal."
"Into the Sleep"
"Into the Sleep" is thick with vibe and melody. It starts out like a wall of sound with thick guitars and haunting cellos, and ends much the same. "Old sun and stars, I seek life anew. From ash to gold, a walk beyond the dark."
"Born of Nothing"
A song that keeps shifting, opening with clean guitars and cello before going into the most furious riffs of the album. Halfway through, it almost changes into a new song with a far more bleak vibe that keeps going until the end. This was another song written years ago that finally made its way to light. "Your thoughts are never your own. I live in this dark place of unforgiving stone. Cast out as the leper, far beyond the road."
"The Final Failure"
"The Final Failure" is one of my favorite Abigail songs ever, probably because it started out as a demo mostly written by Ian Jekelis when he was in the band. Over the years, I kept developing it and reworking it until it ended up as it is now. It was originally meant to be on The Accuser, but didn't fit the vibe of that record. Thankfully, that allowed time for the song to evolve into what it is now. The song also serves as a tribute to Ian's time in the band and all the music we wrote together that is still sitting around that may never get released. "Escape the calamities of existence, travel the realm of unborn thoughts."
Overall, I'm incredibly proud of this album. Working with Bryan and Mike was an absolute joy — I love those guys and they gave an unbelievable performance. Kakophonix (Chris) tied it all together with some stunning cello work, and Lasse Lammert shined it to absolute perfection.