posted on 11/2007 By:
For some reason, I’ve always been a sucker for skyline photos. By association, albums adorned with such covers rope me in, though they seem to be maligned by many. The last example of this, the Black Dahlia Murder’s Miasma, did not suffer from graphic design issues, but rather lackluster tunes that failed to capitalize on the momentum of Unhallowed’s three good songs. So when Widow’s Nightlife floated in via the respected Cruz del Sur cartel, sporting a whimsical nighttime shot of downtown Raleigh, I had to wonder: Would another promise of heavy metal debauchery go unfulfilled?
Oddly enough, the answer is both yes and no. Widow rocks a cock-out, NWOBHM throwback style of power that runs a jagged parallel to that of labelmates Bible of the Devil. But while the Bible is that crusty, denim-clad, rough-and-tumble greaser slouching at the end of the bar amid a cloud of Pall Mall haze, Widow is the acid-washed wang-flanger perched on the karaoke stage, belting out “Panama” while simultaneously offering a sip of his mojito to your buddy’s skank-ass girlfriend. They play working class, beer-and-a-shot songs with a goofy, arena rock bluster; and while they manage to craft a few galloping pyrotechnics, a large chunk of these songs sound like ideas that were scrawled on bar napkins; napkins that should’ve been swept away with the peanut shells and cigarette butts.
That big, fat 2.5 sitting at the top of the page isn’t representative of mediocrity, rather wild inconsistency. Songs like “We Will Meet Again”, “At the End” and especially the rollicking scorcher “Beware the Night” are cool little anthems that showcase their ability to rock hard and fast. But there is a flipside to these fun-filled, high-quality jams. “Beauty Queen”, “I’ll Make You A Star”, and a few more songs with equally unfortunate titles are so woefully amateur that one wonders if they were written by the same band. Ear-piercing guitar “melodies”, horrendous lyrics (“Short skirts and boots will fill the streets”…are you fucking kidding me?), and, most glaringly, some of the worst harsh vocals ever recorded manage to foul up what could’ve been one of the year’s rockingest party metal albums. The vocal offenses effectively destroy the appeal of the two cover songs tacked to the end, Kiss’ “I Stole Your Love” and my favorite Van Halen song, “Ain’t Talking ‘Bout Love”. While hearing these songs belted out by some dude that sounds like Nathan Explosion using the Valnøtt might have some type of schlocky, goofball appeal when performed at your local shithole, projecting this dross onto an unsuspecting listener is about as funny as getting tricked by an old guy with a handshake buzzer.
And there lies Nightlife’s main fault. Despite sporting one of the coolest songs I’ve heard in quite a while amid a couple of jackin’ little kickers, the majority of this record is only fit for consumption by those with a head full of PBR and a serious case of impaired judgment. Widow is a bar band, and a solid one, at that…but this just isn’t suitable for daily consumption. If their harsh vocalist would consider zipping his lips and concentrate on ripping up his fretboard, I might take the next Widow album out for a drink or six. Until then, I’ll be cranking “Beware The Night” while I tie one on Thorogood-style, contemplating cityscape album covers and their maddening false promises.
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