Released: 2016, Pure Steel Records
Widow has been on the Metal Rules radar for quite some time, as we have reviewed 4 of the band’s 5 albums. Hailing from Raleigh, North Carolina, it has been five long years since we last had a studio release from the band. Not surprisingly, the carousel of band members has had much to do with the gap between releases, and with only one original member left in John E. Wooten IV, Widow is no longer the same well-received band of those heady early 2000’s. Nevertheless, CARVED IN STONE is a welcome return for these power metal horror lovers.
The album art somehow manages to be worse than all the previous lowest-bidder designs from the band’s earlier albums. Obviously, Widow is content to blow the budget on the more important things and that is fine with me. Thankfully, not much has changed in the bands energetic execution of traditional, NWOBHM-based metal. Wooten’s vocals still recall Peavy Wagner of Rage, particularly on the excellent “Another Time And Place” while guitarist Chris Bennett offers up riff after golden riff from the tomes of ye olde metal. Thus, songs like “And We Are One” rule, with some open space in the verse riff and the rhythm section building a stout foundation. Considering Widow is now a trio, everybody holds up their end of the bargain, while Bennett clearly features the most prominently.
Running at nearly 50 minutes and twelve tunes, we get only one ballad in “Time On Your Side.” It is an acceptable tune but Widow clearly excels at the more mid-paced guitar-driven tunes. This is traditional US metal with a heavy NWOBHM flavor and no keyboards. It is timeless and delivered by guys who know how to make it sound fresh and personalize it with Widow’s own vision. Lone drawback is the relative similarity of most of the tunes, save the ballad. It is a minor gripe, but one that if corrected, could hopefully propel these long toiling guys into greater acclaim. Recommended for all fans of class metal.