Black Widow is a name which is not popularly praised and has not received “golden” status as other names of that time: Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Jethro Tull to name a few. Nevertheless, the Leicester band is known to have been one of the first to use occult themes, not only in their lyrics, but also on stage. Their stage appearance would consist of the theatrical display of sacrificing humans and other “satanic” rituals of this kind which is something reminiscent of popular bands like Alice Cooper. Moreover, Black Widow is also known to have been one of the first bands to play “black metal” as it has been portrayed in the black metal documentary “Murder Music: A History of Black Metal”. After taking a long break from recording (38 years), the members of this “satanic Jethro Tull” band (as I tend to call them) put on a pretty honest effort with their 2011 studio release Sleeping with Demons.
Black Widow veteran fans, however, should not expect a return to the band’s previous material. Although there are similarities, at times it seems as Sleeping with Demons is a parody of the band itself! This can be heard in the lyrics of “Even the Devil Gets the Blues” which state: “Come to the Sabbat ain’t the same no more/the hip-hop version is a real bore” and in “Radio Hades” the line “come to the Sabbat” is sung repetitively (just like in their 1969 release Return to the Sabbat and 1970’s Sacrifice). Using the same lyrics from previous classic releases could give the impression that the band tried too much to go back to its roots and many might find it quite boring. Indeed, the 2011 release in a way may sound a bit overdone and somehow left me disappointed as I was looking forward to it very much after listening to the catchy opening track “Hail Satan”. The greatest part of my disappointment, however, was the lack of the flute. What has happened to the “satanic Jethro Tull” I have known? Apart from “Hail Satan” the flute is almost completely inaudible in Sleeping with Demons.
Nevertheless, with this album, Black Widow manage to bring the 70s style back to life. Interesting keyboard melodies are still present and the cheesiness in the lyrics of tracks like “Partytime with Demons” and “Hail Satan” do exactly that. Perhaps, one of the best tracks on this album is the bonus “Evil Clock”. It is completely different from the rest and most probably something that you would not expect from Black Widow. It is definitely the heaviest of the tracks and gives out the power which “Hail Satan” gives out. The title track is, unfortunately, another disappointment on this album. I don’t really like listening to people having orgies in my music… Similarly, the spoken intros and interludes and all the special effects (“Artefact”, “The Birth”) do not create a musical atmosphere but rather a theatrical one. It seems that with this release, the band members wanted to bring the occult imagery of their concerts of the 70s onto the disk.
All in all, Sleeping with Demons is not a bad comeback – it could have been better but then, a lot of things in life could have been better. The songs seem to complement each other and the album flows as if it were a concept (from the lyrics it does sound that there is indeed some kind of lyrical theme on this album). I would definitely recommend it to Black Widow fans to check it out. As to the replay ability… it won’t be spinning too often in my player (probably “Hail Satan” and “Evil Clock” only) as I will be returning to their older albums whenever I feel like listening to the mighty Black Widow.
1. Hail Satan (feat. Tony Martin)
2. That’s When Evil Touched Me (feat. Kay Garret)
3. Partytime with Demons
4. Even the Devil Gets the Blues
7. The Portal to Hell
8. Prelude to the Nightmare
9. Sleeping with Demons
11. Radio Hades
12. Run For Your Life
13. Into the Light
14. The Birth
15. Evil Clock
Black Widow are:
Clive Jones – Saxophone & Flute
Geoff Griffith – Bass
The Black Widow I fell in love with: