WIDOW
"On Fire"

(Cruz Del Sur Music)

01. An American Werewolf in Raleigh
02. The Preacher's Daughter
03. Here to Stay
04. Re-Animate Her
05. Sinderella
06. Not Alone
07. Dead End
08. Misstery
09. Family Affair
10. I'll Bury You Alive

RATING: 7/10

If you're not a fan of classic metal with actual singing, MAIDEN-esque rhythm gallops, and lots of twin guitar harmony work, you're advised to steer clear of "On Fire" by North Carolina's WIDOW. It's the kind of album that should do especially well in Europe, but meet with appreciative response by only pockets of fans in the U.S.

Strong crunchy riffs that aren't polished to excess, blazing lead guitar work, and excellent use of melodic six-string harmonies should make "On Fire" an enjoyable experience for the traditional heavy metal fan. The leadoff sample from "An American Werewolf in London" (introducing an "An American Werewolf in Raleigh") is the first indicator of the horror-based lyrical themes. Songs like "Re-Animate Her", "Sinderella", and "I'll Bury You Alive", are the more obviously horror-filled titles. I happen to think the band pulls it off far better than is the case on FORCE OF EVIL's "Black Empire", though I'm sure I wouldn't feel the same way if FOE's tunes were of the same quality as those on "On Fire".

The album's most distinguishing characteristic is the skillful use of three vocalists, one female (Lili) and two male (lead guitarist Christof doing death/black vocals and guitarist John E. doing clean vocals). Lili's vocals took some getting used to, as initial listens had me feeling like her delivery was a tad out of place, even awkward, in parts. I did get used to it though and, for the most part, enjoyed her performance. Christof's screamy death/black vocals, often used in harmony parts, give the songs a harder edge and contrast splendidly with Lili's melodic croons. The melodic singing is used in the right places, and on tracks like "Misstery" John E. trades vocal lines with Lili. During the last chorus of "The Preacher's Daughter", Lili breaks into a series of "whhhooooaaassss", as Christof screams the lead vocal part. I found Lili's mellow intro to "Not Alone", accompanied with clean guitar picking, to be most suitable to her voice and a good lead-in to the heavy stuff that follows.

"On Fire" gets relatively high marks from me for being a solidly rockin' affair. The band kicks out the jams convincingly and the guitar playing smokes. Good songwriting, the vocal dynamics, and the band's unabashedly heavy metal approach make "On Fire" worth checking out.

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