Monday, June 13, 2016

Album Review: Widow - Carved In Stone

One of the things that annoys me about the metal scene is that when you hear a band describe themselves as playing traditional/classic metal, you can interpret that as code for playing loud without knowing how to write a song. There are countless bands out there that think a riff is all you need to have a metal song. They forget that the great metal bands of yesteryear were influenced by rock bands that were all about songwriting, and that Priest and Maiden live on because they wrong great songs. Metal used to be all about that, but not so much anymore.

But then we get bands like Widow, who actually play classic metal in the classic form, the kind of metal that could have gotten radio attention on rock stations back in 1986. I don't remember how I came across their previous album, "Life's Blood", but it's one that has stuck with me these last few years as a prime example of what classic heavy metal can still be in today's world.

After the old-school acoustic introduction, "Burning Star" introduces us to the classic Widow sound; slightly raw production, vocals that remind me of a more restrained Urban Breed, and hooks for days. The verses on this song are as catchy as many band's choruses, and the main hook has the kind of infectious energy that you can easily imagine a crowd of fans singing along with in a crowded club. There's a sense of fun that comes through that reminds me of what metal was always supposed to be.

The one downside to Widow's sound is that, with the exception of the more acoustic "Time On Your Side", there is very little to differentiate the songs from one another. They begin to blend into each other to create one solid block of music. The melodic writing hits many of the same notes from song to song, so even the hooks begin to sound the same as the album progresses. They're all good songs, but after a while you start wondering if you've already heard that song. And if you were around for the last album, this one will almost give you a sense of deja vu.

That said, if you like old-school heavy metal that won't make you want to put on corpse paint and mourn the loss of your favorite genre, Widow is a good choice. They consistently put out catchy heavy metal that hearkens back to the best attributes of the olden days. Sure, they have their issues, like everyone else does, but they deliver an enjoyable product. I would rate "Life's Blood" as a better record, but "Carved In Stone" is still an enjoyable record that does the job it's expected to. I'm not complaining in the slightest.

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