When Abigail's Ghost's third full album was handed to me, I was pleasantly surprised. For whatever reason I was sure the band had disbanded, leaving us with two very fine albums on their palmares, debut album Selling Insincerity released in 2007 and the follow-up D_Letion that saw the light two years later. Nowadays the band still consists of founders Joshua Theriot, guitars and vocals and bass player Kenneth Wilson, who were, soon after the founding of the band, joined by drummer John Rodrigue, to become the core of the band. Keyboard player Brett Guillory is credited on the album, but does not appear in the album's band pictures. One reason for me to purchase both previous albums was the fact I like Steven Wilson's music very much and both albums were heavily influenced by his (former) band Porcupine Tree. But in a way they still had their own sound, with a raw alternative sound and style. So, very curious to the band's sound nowadays, Black Plastic Sun gets a number of spins in my PC, car and CD player.
The music on Black Plastic Sun is both familiar and refreshing; some of the songs, like the opener Thereafter, have the same feel and touch as the previous albums. The guitars have a more crunchy edge, but the keyboards and piano still form the strong foundation for Joshua's emotive vocal style. Thereafter is a fine combination of theatrical keyboards, strong vocals, topped with a guitar solo that actually adds something to the song. The refreshing element comes from the increased influence of alternative rock, vocally Joshua sometimes follows the lines and steps of James Meynard Keenan, well known as the vocalist of Tool, but Joshua's style reminds me more of one of James' other bands; A Perfect Circle. Bloodlust is the appointed sample for Abigail's Ghosts more alternative sound. One of the songs that definitely needs your attention is the slow ballad For Damien, a song carried by piano, smooth keyboards and a violin. Again the fine guitar solo does make a difference. The song Rather Unorthodox lays in the same vein, only here we only have a piano, violin and that majestic voice. It seems to me most of the compositions on the album are written on piano, for the piano and keyboards form the basements for the songs, guitars are used for solo parts and some melodies. Another element that has entered Abigail's Ghost's music are electronics, at one point they take you back to Steven Wilson's music, but in the way they are present on Black Plastic Sun they never appeared on the previous albums. On the other hand, the electronics work fine with the alternative elements. Le Metteur is an example for the way electronics have entered the music and also for the use of the guitar, just for soloing. For progressive fans that like it a bit more tense and powerful, we have Protist, filled with wonderful bass playing and rough explosions of energetic guitars, yeah! The album's highlight for me is Smotherbox; haunting, pushing, containing all the elements we need; guitar riffs, strong keyboards, an unorthodox piano part all together in an intriguing composition united by Joshua's vocals.
Black Plastic Sun is an album with two faces, that are combined in a very pleasant album to listen to. The majority of the songs is heavily based on keyboards and piano, creating a smooth atmosphere, very nice to listen to. The other face shows guitars and power, preserving the right amount of energy you want and balancing the whole progressive album. In the end Abigail's Ghost made us wait for six years to come up with perhaps their best album, at least an intriguing one that asks to be played over and over again. Let's make one thing clear; I don't want to wait another six years for a successor, for Black Plastic Sun really tastes like more.
****+ Pedro Bekkers (edited by Astrid de Ronde)
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