These guys have sometimes been described as a Black Sabbath-like band, and the name Black Widow itself invites a comparison. Yet if that had any validity at the start of their career, by this, their third album, they really sounded more like solid mid-level British prog rockers than satanic hard rockers. This is really closer to early King Crimson and Emerson, Lake & Palmer territory than Black Sabbath, given their lengthy, shifting compositions; stress on forceful organ and vocal harmonies; substantial jazz, classical, hard guitar rock, and folk influences; and the color supplied by Clive Jones' sax and flute. Not that Black Widow is that close to ELP and King Crimson, and the tunes on III aren't nearly as stick-in-the-brain as the songs penned by those two groups in their early days -- but they're respectable within that style. Perhaps some of their supposed satanic mindset is still evident in the opening three-part epic "The Battle," divided into The Onslaught, If a Man Should Die, and Survival sections. Otherwise that isn't evident, and occasionally the tunes are rather cheerful, as on "The Sun." The lack of annoying stentorian qualities in Kip Trevor's lead vocals removes this further from standard hard rock territory. There are even some traces of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young to be heard in "Old Man," although it was a bad idea to end that tune with quotes from "Hey Jude."
CLIVE JONES wind
ZOOT TAYLOR keyb'ds
KIP TREVOR vcls, gtr
ROMEO CHALLENGER drms
GEOFF GRIFFITHS bs
JOHN CULLEY gtr, vcls
1 The Battle
i. The Onslaught
ii. If a Man Should Die
3 Lonely Man
4 The Sun
5 King of Hearts
6 Old Man
III is one of their most obscure albums in a progressive way. All is well-done here with interesting organ and electric and acoustic guitars parts.
The problem with this album is the lack of real personal identity.
"The Battle" has got some tags taken from "Yours is no Disgrace" from The Yes Album. Unfortunately Kep Trevor hasn't got the charisma of Jon Anderson and his lack of presence is blatant here. His voice tone is not uninteresting but he's drown into the instruments.
"Lonely Man" is quite good with a beautiful flute solo backed by organ and growing rhythm.
"King of Hearts" seems to be the best track here with various moods, good jazzy guitar playing, flute and backing vocals. But here again, the lead vocalist seem to be off the track.
"Old Man" starts with a nice acoustic melody but ends with a riff strangely recalling, and finally quoting Hey Jude. I would expect a more inspired closing.
In the early 70s the competition was so hard in progressive rock trend. Though Black Widow has been missing something here to become a major progressive band. The shyness and the limpness of the lead singer is mostly responsible of this fact. All is quite excellent here but a sparkle is missing to turn this good album into a great one.
Rip from CD 256@ (full artwork included)