Death gospel. Metal. Post-rock? I’m a little lost in how to describe London-based classically trained cellist, pianist and self taught guitarist, A.A. Williams and her music. Williams herself has said she doesn’t think too hard about what boxes her music fits into. Interestingly, on the subject of metal music she has said previously that metal doesn’t have to be ‘loud’ to be ‘heavy’. So while it’s safe to say her sound isn’t really ‘heavy’ in itself, her blend of classical, metal and post-rock elements though has certainly gained her all sorts of attention, especially from numerous metal-based online sites and magazines and even a Roadburn festival invite, which caters for extreme music including metal.
It was through an unrelated metal-based search that I first came across Williams four track self-titled EP (last year) and now more recently her debut album Forever Blue. Williams is definitely ‘one to watch’ despite lockdown ruining any sort of momentum Williams had hoped to secure this year. If it’s any sort of consolation lockdown had become an invitation for William’s to showcase her exquisite talents, by performing a series of live videos of cover versions of songs from artists like Nine Inch Nails, Nick Cave, Radiohead and Defttones. The latter in particular she stumbled upon in her teenage years, which set off an obsession with “all things heavy”.
But it’s definitely Williams emotional heaviness and the atmospheric qualities on Forever Blue that appeal to me the most, especially across songs like Melt and Love and Pain that build in momentum from quiet contemplation, to the explosion and or wail of her electric guitar.
Accompanied by her beautiful and haunting vocals and dark lyrics (and other elements like strings and piano) there really is something both melancholic and uplifting about what Williams wants her music to say about herself. Look no further than the album’s opening track All I Asked For (Was To End It All) of what you can expect from Williams as she sings: “If only I was someone else / I could have tried to help myself”.
There are also several dynamic duets with Swedish metal group Cult of Luna’s Johannes Persson and ex-Wild Beasts bassist Tom Fleming on Fearless and Dirt respectively, that echo Williams ‘meticulous approach’ to her vision.
In short, there’s no doubt that this album will tug at your heart strings.
Now listening to “Forever Blue” and it’s a stunning work. I’m also amazed at the impressive number of people who’ve purchased it on Bandcamp.