Review by Andrew Bansal
[Video by Arturo Gallegos]
June 2nd 2014, Five Star Bar, Los Angeles CA: Formerly having called Los Angeles home for a number of years, the now Chicago-based atmospheric black metal band Abigail Williams are currently on a North American headline run and visited their old stomping ground for a show at the Five Star Bar along with touring support act Panzerfaust (contrary to the poster above, Lecherous Nocturne did not play this show) and local openers Insentient and Empyrean Throne. Presented by No Clean Singing and local underground promoters The Elegy Ensemble, the gig promised an enjoyable evening for extreme metal fans in Los Angeles.
Doors opened at 8 PM and the first band Empyrean Throne were slated to begin proceedings at 8:30. Even before they played their set, my interest was piqued as soon as I noticed a cello on stage. I had a feeling I was going to dig this band’s music, and I wasn’t wrong. The six-piece outfit from Lake Forest CA set up with three members on stage and three down on the floor in front of it to put forth a very solid, full-sounding exhibition of symphonic black metal and provided a good start to this show. Vocalist Andrew Knudsen’s Fleshgod Apocalypse shirt was a very apt choice of clothing as it represented the band’s musical inspiration and it was a case of wearing one’s influence on the sleeve, literally. All six members of the band came across as seasoned musician very adept at their respective crafts and as a group. The only negative aspect of their set was that the lead vocals weren’t loud enough in the mix which was a pity as Andrew Knudsen appeared to be screaming his guts out. But other than that, an impressive set by all means.
Next up, Insentient presented a different interpretation of extreme metal with discernibly technical and modern elements in the form of six-string bass fills, sweeping dual guitar lead patterns and blast beat-laden drumming. Although the band plays local shows on a regular basis, this was my first time seeing them and their collective tightness as musicians clearly showed that they’re an active live band very much in its groove. Just as with Empyrean Throne, the vocals during Insentient’s set were largely drowned out by the instruments, but it was an excellent set nonetheless. Having been a band for more than five years now, Insentient have already put in the hard yards to establish their name and continue to do so. Los Angeles will undoubtedly see a lot more of Insentient in the near and long term future.
Main support act for this show came from Canadian black metal fundamentalists Panzerfaust who put on quite an intense and ritualistic performance. All four members dressed in leather vests with their own band’s back patch on it, led by a masked frontman belting out fiery vocals while lighting candles and performing rituals on a small altar placed in the center, Panzerfaust looked and sounded every bit like the quintessential black metal band, and while it’s interesting to come across bands that present variations of the genre by infusing elements from other genres and sub-genres, sometimes it’s just as enjoyable to experience pure black metal done well and done right, and Panzerfaust certainly do so. Their self-proclamation as black metal fundamentalists is by no means inaccurate, as was proven by the level of intensity they exhaled throughout this set, although the volume of lead vocals in the mix, as with Insentient and Empyrean Throne, was a bit unsatisfactory. Aside from possessing an extremely awesome name, Panzerfaust have all the ingredients to appease and awake the black metal fan inside all of us, and for fans of the genre, the band comes as highly recommended from me.
And finally at 11:20, all was in readiness for Abigail Williams to close out the show with an hour’s worth of the atmospheric extreme metal they’ve so impressively perfected and evolved with over their decade-long existence. Three or four years back, I used to see this band play shows in Los Angeles constantly as part of tours with the likes of Deicide and Mayhem, and as I remember fondly and correctly, they would invariably put on the kind of performances that would equal or better that of the headline acts they were touring with. It had been a long while since I had a chance to see them, and this set of theirs completely lived up to my expectations, proving to be well worth the wait. The set included tunes off of the ‘In The Absence Of Light’ and ‘Becoming’ albums along with a couple of brand new compositions, and the set flowed seamlessly while maintaining its atmospheric nature that’s typical of Abigail Williams as a live band. Frontman Ken Sorceron and his three band mates were at the peak of their powers, and thankfully the vocals were a lot more prominent in the mix as compared to the opening bands, even though it still wasn’t totally ideal. The crowd was loving every moment of it. The final piece of this Abigail Williams offering came in the form of ‘Beyond The Veil’, a 17-minute tune off of the band’s stellar latest album Becoming. Before laying into it, Sorceron described it as his favorite song of this set, and it would have certainly been the audience’s favorite as well if it wasn’t ruined to an extent by the idiot dude who irritatingly kept pushing people in an attempt to start a mosh pit even though no one was interested and the music did not warrant a mosh pit of any kind. But regardless, the song was still an awesome treat for everyone in attendance, as was Abigail Williams’ entire set. It’s absolutely great to see them still putting on great live shows such as this, proving themselves as the pinnacle of live atmospheric black metal.
Check out Arturo Gallegos’ video footage of the first 15 minutes part of Abigail Williams’ set below, and check out his YouTube channel for more:
Abigail Williams/Panzerfaust remaining tour dates:
06/03 San Francisco, CA – Elbo Room
06/04 Chico, CA – LaSalles
06/06 Vancouver, BC – Funky Winkerbeans
06/07 Calgary, AB – Calgary Metal Fest – Dickens Pub
06/08 Great Falls, MT – Machinery Row
06/09 Bozeman, MT – The Filling Station
06/10 Fargo, ND – New Direction
06/11 Chippewa Falls, WI – Everybuddy’s Bar
06/12 Omaha. NB – The Hideout
06/13 Des Moines, IA – Vaudeville Mews
06/14 Peoria, IL – The Brass Rail