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Black Widow - Sacrifice CD (album) cover


Black Widow


Heavy Prog

3.73 | 161 ratings

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3 stars Sometimes the sacrifice just isn't worth it, and I'm afraid to report that that is certainly the case with Black Widow's much lauded debut album. I heard about this album a good decade before I got my hands on it, and was expecting a masterful work of dark progressive rock ... a sort of strange blend of early Atomic Rooster, Comus and perhaps even Black Sabbath. What I finally discovered however was a mediocre collection of occult-themed songs set to unadventurous jazz-rock backing.

Maybe this album was worth investigating for its novelty value alone, but I'm really not sure that there are enough high points on this album to come remotely close to justifying the good things I'd heard about it. The best tracks are probably the opening pair of In Ancient Days and Way To Power which boast the strongest melodies and are good driving tracks. Another highlight is the closing title track (which does at least have some punchy flute and organ solos, from Clive Jones and Zoot Taylor respectively) and I suppose they do have enough of an appeal for me to want to hang on to this album.

Basically though, Black Widow, the brainchild of guitarist Jim Gannon (who wrote virtually all the songs) seem to have gained acclaim for the live spectacle and occult themes (daring for 1970) of its shows rather than for actually playing and composing sterling progressive rock. On some occasions, particularly during Seduction (the awful lounge jazz section had me gasping with incredulity) and Attack Of The Demon, the cabaret nature of Kip Trevor's lead vocals are just too much for me to tolerate, while the repeated chorus of Come To The Sabbat wastes a nice string melody and thus doesn't do this album any favours, either.

What's most surprising though is the generally one dimensional jazz-rock that the sextet plays ... it's enjoyable half the time, but is almost never exciting from a musical sense. On the basis of Sacrifice, I'm actually a little puzzled as to how that Black Widow have developed such a cult following among progressive rock fans. Musically they are way off the standards of the most exciting prog-jazz ensembles ... aside from anything else, I'm not really sure Black Widow ever plays anything progressive beyond the long jam in the final track!

While I will concede a certain charm factor (the sheer tongue-in-cheek element makes you feel more affection for this album than the music deserves!), this is one of the last stops you should make as you investigate the classic prog scene. I'd put it on par with another disappointment, Jethro Tull splinter group Blodwyn Pig, but that group had some outstanding musicians, and nobody in Black Widow is really worth drawing attention to, in my opinion. In fact, I still feel somewhat cheated by this record. ... 52% on the MPV scale

Trotsky | 3/5 |


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