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Black Widow - Sacrifice CD (album) cover

SACRIFICE

Black Widow

 

Heavy Prog

3.73 | 161 ratings

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Psychedelic Paul
5 stars BLACK WIDOW were a British Jazz-Rock band formed in Leicester in 1969. They released their first album under the name Pesky Gee! in 1969, before wisely deciding to change the name of the band to Black Widow. Their first album as Black Widow, titled "Sacrifice" (1970) caused some controversy at the time because of the dark satanic occult imagery in the lyrics and accompanying mock sacrifice video for the title song. It was all part of an elaborate stage act though and they were no more satanic than Black Sabbath and nowhere near as outrageous as the Shock Rock stage act of Alice Cooper. The band dropped the dark satanic imagery for their next two albums, the imaginatively-titled "Black Widow" (1971) and "Black Widow III" (1972), although those two albums failed to achieve the success of the first album. They recorded another album in 1972, predictably titled "Black Widow IV", although that album wouldn't see the light of day for another 25 years until 1997. Another album titled "Return to the Sabbat" was released in 1998, although it contained no original material as the album consisted entirely of an earlier recording of their 1970 "Sacrifice" album. Black Widow weren't quite dead and buried yet though because they rose from the grave with their long-awaited comeback album "Sleeping with Demons" in 2011.

The opening song "In Ancient Days" conjures up a spooky Hammer horror movie image of a graveyard at night, where the haunting sound of the solo organ gives the impression that some ghostly apparition is about to suddenly leap out of the shadows. Don't have nightmares though, because this is just a prelude to some uplifting funky Jazz-Rock. It's easy to see why some religious conservatives might have been spooked by these sinister demonic lyrics though:- "Here in my thirteenth life the mystic power of old returns, and as I say these words, my soul again in Hell, I conjure thee, I conjure thee, I conjure thee, I conjure thee appear, I raise you mighty demon, come before me, join me here." ..... The lyrics might be dark and occult, but the music is really jaunty and Jazzy and proggy and the satanic sacrificial imagery in the lyrics and video never did their album sales any harm. The lively and invigorating Jazz-Rock of Black Widow bears no relation to the dark Heavy Metal of Black Sabbath, who the band have sometimes been compared to. There's more doom and dark satanic gloom on the way with "Way to Power", where the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are mentioned in the sinister lyrics, although the rollicking music is another solid slice of foot-stomping British Jazz-Rock. This lively feel-good music is more likely to inspire jumping and jiving on the dance floor, rather than giving the listener a scary touch of the heebie-geebies. The next song "Come to the Sabbat" DOES sound very sinister though, so it might be time to hide beneath the bedcovers, especially when you hear the repeated sinister refrain of "Come to the Sabbat, Satan's There". There's really nothing to worry about though, as we live in far more enlightened times these days, and this stirring harum scarum Jazz-Rock hokum is no more scary than a candlelit pumpkin at Halloween. Side One closes with "Conjuration", which rumbles along nicely to a slow marching rhythm with the rousing horn section weaving their magical spell.

Black Widow have conjured up a big romantic power ballad for the Side Two opener: "Seduction". You're sure to be seduced by the lush string arrangements and the playful and pleasurable Jazz organ solo. This song is like a bright ray of sunshine breaking through the clouds compared to the dark satanic imagery conjured up in Side One. The singer sounds like he's head over heels in love with these warm and tender lyrics:- "Would you have me stay with you, Squeeze and hold you tight, Smooth you with my tender touch, Share your bed at nights." ..... From the sound of things, it could be his lucky night. Next up is "Attack of the Demon", a rompin' stompin' barnstorming display of Jazzy prog to stimulate and invigorate the senses. We end the album with the powerful 11-minute-long title track "Sacrifice". It's an all-out sonic assault of thunder and lightning for the final song. The music barrels along at a relentless pace with the manic drummer and frantic Hammond organist hammering away in a non-stop cacophonous frenzy of high-decibel sound and energy. This is music designed to hit you straight between the eyes with the awesome power of a thunderbolt.

Black Widow represents British Jazz-Rock at its brilliant best. The band weave a wonderful web of timeless timbral tunes, ranging from raucous rockers to romantic refrains. It's no "Sacrifice" to say this stunning album deserves to be in any discerning Jazz-Rock connoisseur's collection.

Psychedelic Paul | 5/5 |

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