Few bands have ever achieved the feat of satisfying their loyal fan-base one day and pissing them off the next. And all within a single decade. Having never been a fan of the early days of Abigail Williams, I avoided the apparent “hardship” many fans went through come the release of 2012’s Becoming. The reason I was never a fan of In the Shadows of a Thousand Suns and In the Absence of Light is because of their generic Dimmu Borgir worship. I remember trying at the time but I never returned. And, honestly, I never would have if I hadn’t received the promo for their newest release. Having finally listened to Becoming, I found myself captivated by it. Brimming with classic Norwegian attitude, post-metallic Wolves in the Throne Room impressions, and an Agallochian-meets-Nachtmystium atmosphere, I regularly reach for the anti-depressants every time I spin it. Because of that positive experience, I walk into The Accuser with no judgements, no ill-conceived notions, and no high hopes. I just want it to be as good as Becoming. Is that too much to ask?
It turns out that isn’t too much to ask. However, instead of employing the slow strut of Becoming (showing off its flirtatious goods and building tension over an hour’s time), The Accuser abandons the teasing and, instead, struts a few steps, turns, and punches you straight in the face. Opening with an attitude befitting a Gorgoroth assault, “Path of Broken Glass” rips and tears its way through four-and-a-half minutes of blackened char before chopping down trees with its stop-starting chugs and the Filth-y shrieks of Sorceron. Memorable, mean, and addictive, “Path of Broken Glass” sets a tone of chest-beating hate, but quickly checked by “The Cold Lines.” This slow, eerie, highly atmospheric track horse-collars your adrenaline and pulls you straight down into the mud, burying you in a grave of reverberating screams. This song single-handedly drags you back into the catacombs etched out during the fifty-five minute runtime of Becoming.
“The Cold Lines” not only sets the tone for the rest of the album but it also serves as the perfect intro to “Of the Outer Darkness;” a moody number that entrenches the listener in depressive blackness before a foothold is finally obtained, leading one to a post-metal “groove” a la Pelican. From here, the song picks up the pace half-a-click before unloading a blackened shipment tagged “Morose.” But it’s “Will, Wish and Desire” that sets the bar for The Accuser, opening with some spontaneous guitar leads and solo work that pop in-and-out, fencing in an almost “upbeat” Nachtmystium ambiance. The song ascends to a climactic WitTR snowcap that employs a “big” dose of instrumentation and a buttload of character. From the opening notes, this song was dead-set on delivering something special and it does.
“Forever Kingdom of Dirt” takes “Will, Wish and Desire” and drowns it in depression, while “Lost Communion” utilizes its “bigness” via layered vocals that result in something resembling a “chorus” – much like “Will, Wish and Desire.” From song to song, there’s a flow and cohesiveness that holds you bound and gagged in the dungeon bricked and grouted by Becoming. The Accuser acts as a true follow-up album, dependent on a story already set and characters already introduced.
Though I was never a fan of the overly symphonic elements of previous releases, I adored the orchestrations and instrumentation used in Becoming. That being said, there are no violins, cellos, or strings to be found on The Accuser. Not that this harsher approach is any less powerful, but I would have loved for some cameos on The Accuser. Their presence would have been welcome in tracks like “The Cold Lines” and “Nuummite,” which lacked impact and concluded with much to be desired (especially the fake-sounding drums and the raven-on-the-wind airiness of the vocals on the latter). The production isn’t anything to write home about but the balance is good. I especially love hearing the bass make its way to the surface on “Of the Outer Darkness” and during the slower moments of “Forever Kingdom of Dirt.” Overall, this is a very good album and be you an abandoner of Abigail Williams or a noob to their sound, check this out.