Black Widow
Sacrifice


5.0
classic

Review

by Thompson D. Gerhart STAFF
February 25th, 2013 | 141 replies


Release Date: 1970 | Tracklist

Review Summary: "Have you ever read the books that I wrote centuries ago?"

No, Kip, they haven't. And that's the problem. Okay, so maybe it hasn't been centuries, but, really, it's a greater sin of the modern age of music that more people haven't heard of Black Widow. Maybe it's understandable that they never came to a fever pitch in their heyday - only a fraction of the public were buying the occult goods Black Widow were selling on Sacrifice back in 1970. And most of them were buying the watered down stuff Black Sabbath was selling them, not wholesale chants of "Come, come, come to the Sabbat, Satan's there!"

In a lot of ways, Black Widow were really victims of circumstance. Relative conservatism aside, plenty of other (now) huge bands were only getting their footing at the same time. And in the wave of Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, King Crimson, and, yes, Black Sabbath, you might see how prog rockers who put on a live performance of the Satanic ritual their album describes managed to fade into the back of the crowd.

Of course, a performance as wild and well-executed as that of Sacrifice can't be ignored forever, and while the band's contract with CBS records may have fizzled and any popularity they'd garnered waned in the wake of later, softer albums, plenty more still caught on, even if they weren't in droves. The sounds of Sacrifice have been paid tribute to by artists as recent as Propaghandi and have, without a doubt, influenced a far greater number of musicians. This is metal before metal and prog at some of it's earliest steps and its impact reverberates throughout music as we know it.

That said, "metal before metal" should be taken for what it is - dark, occult lyrics, heavy sections largely produced by drumming and bass backed by eerie organs, distorted vocals, chants, and tribal moans (see the intro of "Come to the Sabbat"). There are no heavy, distorted guitars or pounds of compression, yet the dark feelings and weighty emotions of metal are sewn throughout Sacrifice in an even more primordial way than that of the painted-up music that would follow in its footsteps. Darkness dwells not in the flesh, but in the soul.

Yet the prog gift wrapping to this dark package is so enticing that even if the darker themes aren't your thing, the core dynamic of experimental rock music on Sacrifice should bring a twinkle to your eye. Yes, the spirit may be dark, but the mesh of light acoustic guitars, organs, pianos, saxophones, clarinets, and flutes creates an unmistakably symphonic approach to the sinister, at many times contrasting the dark sounds of the rhythm section and creating more of a light overtone than a dark one. In fact, one of Black Widow's big issues was a constant, fairly undue comparison to Black Sabbath. They're somewhat close in the tone behind the music (though Sacrifice should show Black Widow to be much darker), but in terms of musical direction, Sacrifice is much closer to King Crimson and Jethro Tull than most other acts their age. Again, we're not watching the Tony Iommi fretshow here, but rather Clive Jones' droning, low sax lines and high, medieval piping on the flute.

But while Jones may be the standout, it's the combined musicianship of the whole band that make Sacrifice a masterpiece. The rhythm section (and Jones's sax, too) are absolutely crucial to creating the core of darkness this occult ritual has at its heart. The flutes and higher-end organ parts play into the pleasant atmospheres and ritual tokens needed to summon the love demon Astaroth (particularly on "Seduction"). Guitars, mid-range organs, vocals flesh out the experience by performing the conjuration - adding flair and making sentiment into the acknowledged statement that calls the demon forth. Whether it's at its darkest in the "Hall of the Mountain King" inspired "Come to the Sabbat," churning out flower power in monkey-along "Seduction," or simply bopping along to the scat-backed rock of "Attack of the Demon," all of the ritual components on Sacrifice have been assembled to call forth the perfect dark progressive experience. It's simply too bad for Black Widow that they seem to have gotten the kind of deal you get from wishing on a monkey's paw: an absurdly brilliant prog performance unheard by many, if not most.



Recent reviews by this author
Opeth Pale CommunionRx Bandits Gemini, Her Majesty
Chris Letchford LightboxHoth Oathbreaker
Marty Friedman InfernoCasualties of Cool Casualties of Cool
user ratings (45)
Chart.
4.3
superb

Comments:Add a Comment 
Atari
Contributing Reviewer
February 25th 2013


19756 Comments


nice review pos'd.

but black sabbath watered down? come on man they helped invent metal! :P



Digging: Spectral Lore - III

AtomicWaste
Staff Reviewer
February 25th 2013


1992 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Hope I did alright with this. Album is all kinds of excellent.

AtomicWaste
Staff Reviewer
February 25th 2013


1992 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

"but black sabbath watered down? come on man they helped invent metal!"

Lyrically, man. Lyrically.

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
February 25th 2013


19756 Comments


Ah yes my bad lol. I need to check this

manosg
February 25th 2013


6094 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

It's great that this album got reviewed. This band was notorious for its live shows back then, they truly helped hard music progress. The combination of dark lyrics and light musical themes is interesting as far as the artistic approach is concerned.

Solid review, pos.

Digging: John Coltrane - Ballads

CaptainDooRight
February 25th 2013


29137 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I'd prolly dig, pos

Digging: Kangding Ray - Solens Arc

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
February 25th 2013


4424 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I CONJURE THEE, I CONJURE THEE, I CONJURE THEE, I CONJURE THEE APPEAR!

AtomicWaste
Staff Reviewer
February 25th 2013


1992 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

I raise thee mighty Demons, come before me, join me here...

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
February 25th 2013


20676 Comments


This is great stuff. Good to see it finally has a review.

Digging: Townes Van Zandt - Townes Van Zandt

AtomicWaste
Staff Reviewer
February 25th 2013


1992 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Yeah, man, thanks for the rec, potsy. I'm really glad this is something I've heard and now have in my collection.

demigod!
February 25th 2013


44445 Comments


occult satan prog from the 70s?? SIGN ME THE FUCK UP

Digging: Portishead - Dummy

demigod!
February 25th 2013


44445 Comments


wow this is amazinggg

Jethro42
February 25th 2013


12440 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

really?

demigod!
February 25th 2013


44445 Comments


its p damn good
trumpets on conjurations man whoa

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
February 25th 2013


19756 Comments


dam this really does sound similar to jethro tull

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
February 25th 2013


19756 Comments


well either way this fucking rules so far

demigod!
February 25th 2013


44445 Comments


yeah the last track is truly satan

Jethro42
February 25th 2013


12440 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The lyricist of early King Crimson Peter Sinfield obviously took some inspiration musically from these guys, and it shows when we listen to his solo album Still.

demigod!
February 25th 2013


44445 Comments


s8ns thurr

tommygun
February 25th 2013


24936 Comments


sweet review atomic

pos

gotta hear this

Digging: Broods - Evergreen



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy