(editor's note: I thought that this was posted prior to it's inclusion in the SFM666 Favorites of the Year list. It was not, so sorry.)
WIDOW - Life's Blood CD
Pure Steel Records
Genre: NWOBHM/ Heavy Metal
I'll be seeing WIDOW in a few days playing a local venue and I'm gonna tell them to update their Metal Archives page as far as their genre description. They're labeled as power metal, they're not. I'll also tell them to update their photo on there as well. But first I'm gonna shake hands with them aka: John E. Wooten - lead vocals & bass, Chris Bennett - guitar & vocals and drummer Peter Lemieux because of this new release. WIDOW has had a pretty good decade when it comes to releases. But before that Johnny and Chris were already in a good band back in the late 90s called SORROW BEQUEST who were heavily influenced by NWOBHM plus they put out a couple of demos. I must have seen them a dozen times live and they were always impressive. But where their former band was fairly loose WIDOW became a tight unit showcasing their talent to write very impressive songs with structures right out of the early 80's metal handbook. Their 2003 debut Midnight Strikes was a good dose of 80's style metal. 2005's On Fire saw a complete revamp of the band line-up now becoming a five piece by adding a female vocalist, Lili, plus more melodies started seeping into their repertoire. Then 2007's Nightlife saw the band, back to a four piece minus Lili, bring both aspects together to put out, in my not so humble opinion, not only their best release to date but a full on classic metal album. Nightlife could easily sit next to any old school classic release.
So here we are four years later and WIDOW, now a three piece, have surpassed their own greatness with Life's Blood. Some people say I'm guilty of hyperbole, whatever but this ain't bias towards a hometown band coming from me. If this CD came out in 1980 WIDOW would be headlining gigs across the globe with DIAMOND HEAD opening for em. I'm damm serious here people this is a great release. In the past two years there's been a mini revival of new bands doing the PRIEST and MAIDEN worship thing to a good extent. WIDOW is not part of that obviously because of their history but also because of the song writing chops as evident on Life's Blood. Opener "Lady Twilight" would've been worthy of airplay back in the day but now it's just a great song (an anthem?) with an aggressive melody. "Take Hold of the Night" is a proto thrash, chorus laden classic. One of the things you expect from WIDOW is major guitar soloing action and as usual Chris Bennett finds way to slip in a fiery solo or eardrum shattering lick into every opening. It keeps the listener off balance and unsuspecting even in a mid tempo cut. Songs like "Behind the Light", "Judgement Day" and the closer "The One I Know" are perfect examples.
WIDOW also know when to bring down the pace and add some epic grandness on tracks like "In Dreams" as well as "Another Fallen Angel". They also know when to dig back into their roots to display some of that MAIDEN influence like on "Live Beyond". As far as I see it Life's Blood is not only this band's best release to date but it ranks up there with some of the best releases of 2011. John E. Wooten's vocals are flat out amazing plus when Chris Bennett joins in on the chorus' the result is tremendous. Peter Lemieux's drum work on all of the songs complements everything perfectly. For the past few years I've heard some truly great bands recreating that late 70's/early 80's metal sound. The key word there people is 'recreate'. WIDOW makes it sound so effortless as if they stepped out of a time machine back when thrash was just coming upon the music scene and here they are today to keep the spirit of NWOBHM alive for future generations. Anyone can do nostalgia but only WIDOW can make it relevant with the ability to stand toe to toe with their peers.