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Labelspecial Black Widow Records

If insanity had a name then it would be probably Black Widow. Once there was a dark and totally unique Band from England, 30 years ago they released several cool albums and still they have tons of stuff unissued! They influenced not only progressive rock bands, the genre with which I would rank them, but also a whole generation of hardrock -, doom -, psychedelic - and even blackmetalbands like Bewitched. And it inspired an italian music fanatic, one of the few men of honour in the whole business who are really in it to bring us great and spiritual music (not only metal / hardrock, not even only rockmusic) without concentrating on current musical fashions, to found a recordlabel on his own. I am talking about noone else but Massimo and the almighty BLACK WIDOW RECORDS! Inspired by music of bands lying beyond the obvious like Pentagram, Black Sabbath, Black Widow, Witchfinder General, Saint Vitus, Death SS, Cirith Ungol, Manilla Road and by dark and gloomy horror movies from maniacs like Lucio Fulci and Dario Argento, he teamed up with a couple of other guys totally dedicated to the music and here we go. Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the eerie world of Black Widow Records!

Since I dunno where to start, I will begin with my favourite band of all times: PENTAGRAM

Pentagram: Review your Choices

This Album starts with a smoker named "Burning Rays", a leftover from the early 70s. The blue vinyl is rotating on my turntable and the shredding guitars combined with the haunting voice of Bobby Liebling blow my mind away. It's a faster, straight and powerful song. We all know these ripping killertracks from all earlier albums. Next one is groovy "Change of Heart". Did anybody realize up to now that this is not Victor Griffin who plays the guitar but drummer Joe Hasselvander who also refines english metalveterans Raven with his powerful Thunderdrumming? Back to Pentagram and "Change of Heart". This is mid paced and there is nothing complicated with this song at all. It goes straight forward into the sick mind of the listener. The melody is insane, dark and gloomy but still catchy. The guitars are heavier than hell! Listen to the solopart that finishes this song, have you ever heard something more dedicated? Awesome! "Living in a Ram's Head" comes next and it it has not changed since it has been released for the first time in 1978 on a 7". The guitars are a bit more intense right now, they show more depth and a stronger sense for melodies! The rest stayed like it was. A cool melodyline, powerful grooves and riffs, catchy and relaxed but still so heavy! Joe's guitaring is as great as the playing of his predecessor Victor Griffin who has now build up his own band Place of Skulls that is nothing but pure and soulful doomy hardrock with him handeling the vocals. His voice is a bit average but the material itself is awesome. Well, getting off the rail! Here we go again! "Gorgon's Slave". Slowmotion, darkness, resignation, sadness. It is one of the ugliest songs Pentagram ever did, but still there is this powerful middle section with this stunning solo. And some lurid melodies show up every now and then to make the song a bit more urgent! "Mow you down" then is a powerful up tempo rocker with a really furious feel and hateful lyrics! "Mow you down", that's what I often think about some people who ripped me off! In this case I think Bobby is singing about a woman as he did in "Lazy Lady" in 1972. I wonder if this song will ever be reissued. "Mow you down" is just pure and primitive power! One or two repetive riffs, that's all. And guess what? It kicks your butt to the neck! Side one closes with the titletrack of the album, another relaxed grooving and totally intense hardrocker with one of these unearthly melodylines that can only be written by Bobby Liebling! 50 years old and still not a bit square, even though he could be my father, this man is my only reason to carry on believeing in the true sense of music! "Review your choices" gets hold of you and never lets you gho anymore. You follow this dramatic melodies and feel all the pain of this world! You hear the mindblowing leadguitars and feel them digging into your guts! If this is not an absolute killersong, I dunno what you'd call such a killer! Side Two starts with one more golden oldie named "The Diver". It has moved into a heavier direction since the 70s. Doomier and deeper! It's a totally catchy "Hit" and one of the most thrilling songs Pentagram ever did. Good to see it finally rerecorded. You will find the original version on a compilation issued by a small canadian label named Downtime Recordings in 1999. It has the name "Human Hurricane" and even though the sound quality seems quite raw - there are only demorecordings on that album - the mysterious, haunting atmosphere of the songs will push you into dimensions yet unknown that should better stay unexplored if you're not prepared to meet thy doom! "The Bees" are swarming upon us! Heavy, with heavy leadguitars, twin guitarleads to be exact! Twin guitarleads and a buzzing rhythmguitar beyond, this is the way to make this album sounding that insane! Now it is time for something really scary! "I am Vengeance", a track written for the soundtrack of a horror movie, that has found it's way on this album. So slow and so heavy, so monotonous but still so dragging, I cannot say what exactly makes this song so brillant but it has the sickest atmosphere ever even though it just consists of bare chords and slimey slow motion rhythms of the most primitive kind! There is no real melodyline here and the whole song sounds totally bulky. Getting near the end there is a passage that is a bit more accessible (yet still far from being commercial in any way) and one of the doomiest parts with just these famous twinguitars and now buzzing rhythmguitar! Thank goodness, there comes a more melodic song next. "Forever my Queen", another 1973 ripper in a new version that is a thousand times heavier and more infernal than the original one. Simple but effective riffing, great haunting vocals, a melody that is easy to follow but will never bore you, this song contains everything you want to hear! "Downhill Slope" then is inspired by old bluesrock, pure melancholy, pure heavieness, pure emotions. A guy from an english band once said to me that doom is where the heart lies. Listen to this song and try to hold back your tears. Have you ever lost someone you loved so deeply that you could not imagine to live without? Listen to this song and try to stay alive. The solo here is one of the most emotional and soulful leads that I ever heard in my entire career as a music collector! If I commit suicide one day, than it is this song's fault! Groundbreaking, that's what it is! It takes doommetal to another level of spiritual depth! "Megalania" is the last real song on the album and again, this is stomping doomy groovy hardrock with a furious melody! The licks unleashed by the guitars will never leave you anymore, that's guaranteed! So, well, Bobby Liebling and Joe Hasselvander have created their most intense album up to date and I've got some good news for all you maniacs (I myself know no holy cows looking at rockbands but it is different with Pentagram, I would kill to defend the honour of this band and even if they would release an album containing only Bobby Liebling's farts!). As Massimo told me in an email, there will come a new album soon, let us see which old classics have returned out of the darkness and what new infernal insanities Bobby and Joe have cooked within their scary minds! 10 out of 10

Standarte: Stimmung

Hell, what is this? This is the third album of this newer italian band that combines hardrock and progressive rock. The thing is, they sound exactly as if they had recorded their stuff back in 1971. This could be the reincarnation of Atomic Rooster somehow, their style is easily comparable to the one of these italian maniacs. You will get what you search for, as far as you're a dedicated fanatic of 70s heavyrock with a progressive touch. Technically overwhelming they never put too many complicated passages in one song but let the emotions flow and spin a web of notes in which they catch the listener and never let him escape. But, to be honest, who really wants to escape these dragging melodies, far beyond any easy listening standarts, being put on stage in a very dramatic way. Who really wishes to escape those haunting vocals and conjuring riffs? Noone really wants! You drown within oceans of thoughtful chosen sounds, this is fantastic material that deserves your attention! The guitarplayer unleashes one corking lead after the other, he blows the amps with smoking, catchy licks, the drums, the bassguitar, the organ, the voice, everything works hand in hand to create this dedicated piece of rock! It is hard not to become addicted to Standarte. And unlike many bands trying to sound like the 70s but always failing with their feeble commercially based attempts, Standarte have this natural feeling, as if there did never have been 30 years in between. Theatralic rock music nowadays is not meant to end up as Marylin - Manson - Wanna - Be - Angry - Elektronicpop with lame alibi melodies. Take a listen to this one and you will see the truth! Lush harmonies, devine compositions, emotions, deep emotions! You will not get too much stuff like that anymore! So here is a chance! 9 out of 10

Bram Stoker: Heavyrock Spectacular

What a goodie do we have here? This is actually not a new release but a 70s underground classic from an english band reissued on vinyl after being released by another label on CD. This is not exactly what the title promises, for the fuzzy distortion guitar plays a minor role in the whole concept of this record. It is powerful organ driven rock music, that reminds me very often of scotsmen Beggar's Opera who also used these excessive organpassages within their songs to make the listener burn! And we burn with passion as with passion this music is played. These guys drift from straight ahead melodic songs to darker atmospheres as in "Blitz" (about a bomb raid on London in 1940 and it exactly sounds like that, haunting!!!) or classical organ - lead arrangements that get near to insanity but always turn around before they drift into total chaos. The melodies make a deep impact on me, they are mostly gloomy, very haunting, even though when the obvious tells something different as again in "Blitz" when they seem to be harmless, even peaceful and relaxed but as the singer sets in and asks for his "Mary" who is missing since the last bomb raid, god, this gives me goosebumbs and then they blast off into dramatical, often even tragical sounding parts when you can feel that something really, erh, tragic is happening, something really important, just like in those 70s gangster and horror movies when an important figure gets lifted off this planet! Some really fiery leadguitarpassages and rhythm parts can be found here and there as well and then it gets heavy as disactivated URANIUM! You sit on your chair and cannot close your mouth while listening to these smoking six string attacks. But as I said, the main role plays the organ and it is played with passion! Fans of really mysterical and uncommercial progressive 70s rock should try to get this one! 9,5

 Cirkus: One

Another Reissue piece from the early 70s on vinyl, this time even in gatefold sleeve. Cirkus play very gentle and deeply beautiful progressiverock, mellotrondriven tunes with sometimes even a symphonic flair. This is totally enchanting music. You can easily see that the musicians are very skilled but they never put their abilities in the front, they play for the song. Dreamy, mellow melodies allover the record open your mind and lift your spirit upwards to clear blue skies where there is only a peaceful atmosphere. But not only songs softly caressing your soul show up on this record, also some heavier moments reach my ears, songs featuring a howling guitar, dramatical structures and melodies, nearly gut ripping rhythms and a few softer sections that feel like the calm before the storm. And when I speak of symphonic passages, it's unlike nowadays a real string quartet that plays here along with the mellotron. The whole atmosphere on the album moves from dreamy to slightly furious to melancholic to pure loving happiness. There is no song with the same emotional intention following the next. A few more playful passages also show up but they don't break the flow. Lay yourself down and drift along the spiritual river that Cirkus create, let yourself be enchanted by the images that appear before your eyes while your mind is circeling. And then you reach a point of understanding that gives you the key to this music. And it now even strikes you deeper than ever before. Can you hold back your tears? 10

 Agony Bag: Feelmazumba

No thanks, don't want to feel his zumba, I prefer listening to the music of Clive Jones, former saxophonist of the almighty Black Widow (who, quite obviously, inspired the owner of Black Widow Records, Massimo, to take this name for his label). This is a really funny album, I have not heard anything like that before. There are these nasty, really cheeky sounding vocalexprssions by Mr. Jones himself, who also plays flute, sax and keyboards. There is the powerful drumming by his old mate Clive Box (who, for the later Black Widow albums, was replaced by Romeo Challanger then) and two youngsters on guitar and bassguitar. The music, well, the vocals have that punkish feel, straight from the belly, not really twchnically skilled but really basic and honest and, well, as I said, somehow nasty. Let's get to the songs themselves. I have not heard any band like that before, so much to say. The guys crossover punkrock, glam, majestic psychedelic rock, very 70s sounding indeed and some hardrock. You can often hear that Black Widow - styled fantastic melodies, mellow and obscure in their mood, you will be dragged along with the powerful rocking tunes also very often and you will ennjoy the fresh feeling of the sound sequences. Some very cool synthesizer passages show up, adding a touch of space to the songs, every now and then. This is not overall dark or mysterious, but also not at all flat and superficial like many wave / pop acts from that days around 1980. I could not imagine Agony Bag being played in the radio for they're much too strange. On the other hand they could have appealed to alot of people if there only was a way to listen to them back then for this is the first time most of the songs were released. Massimo has done a good job with it for this is totally unique rockmusic far beyond all comparisons. 9,5

The Black: Golgotha

This must be their fourth full length effort meanwhile and still they are not a tiny bit more accessible than they used to be in the past. This can be described as doomy hardrock with some sacral keyboard dominated passages, sometimes very ceremonial in the melodies. The vocals are weird, haunting, very unique. This guy, Mario Di Donato, really has his very own style in writing music. This is not alldays stuff you get into so easily. You cannot listen to it next to doing something else. This music is so deeply intense it requires your whole attention. Drop off every little thought about reality, about anything else but this music, before you lay back and drown within the emotional waves of this timeless dark heavy rock. You will soon be taken away by very moving melodies, you will feel like a torch being set ablaze by the fiery passion this magickal sound unleashes. Sometimes this sounds so tragic, so melancholic, then thunderous riffing and majestic organplaying give you a push, strengthen your heart and enlighten your fury. The Black play tunes that have never been played that way by other bands before. They follow a long tradition of dark rock music from Italy and they are so dedicated to what they do, you do not only listen to the music, you live this record! For sure this is only made for a very small amount of people who love such weird, sometimes slightly experimental hardrock tunes (which always include fantastic melodylines). This is far from any trend. The sound is very natural, hot blooded, not at all clean. This is pure dark magick! 10

The Black: Apocalypsis

This is the predecessor of the awesome "Golgotha" album, there are still two LPs before that one as far as I know. What can I say, The Black is a pure "love 'em or hate 'em" kind of band. They play dark, powerful, haunting, doomy heavyrock and mix those hard driving tunes with some very solemn organ dominated passages. Some parts on this album, as well as on the next, are very playful and show that these Italians are not only very emotional but also technically skilled musicians. I would bet my life on this, you would have never heard a band like The Black before, mixing hardrock, doom, progressiverock and psychedelicrock like that. It is hard to describe this sound with simple words, it is much more than just music to me, this is a spiritual experience. You will definitely get goosebumps allover your body when you take a listen. But you need time to get into The Black, to follow the wild lines, drawn by some totally insane musicians. The Black is truly progressive music, far from any label to put on this band. Fans who want easy listening music with happy melodies, well, get away and buy stupid symphonic metal clone bands instead. Here you only get darkness and magick! 10

Akron: La Signora del Buio

Sick! This is the soloalbum of Enio Nicolini, who is handling the bassguitar for italian dark hardrock godz The Black. His soloalbum is based on very laid back rock tunes with a very haunting feel as well as very solemn, mostly keyboard dominated songs with some cool vocals. Sometimes his singer Eugenio does not really sing but speaks or shouts like a prophet telling the people about the end of the world coming near. Other times he unfolds so gentle and beautiful melodies from his mouth, as if he is a bit schizoid. Well, to play music like that you have to be far beyond the norm. Akron could also never be labelled accessible or even commercial in any way. This is highly intense, not heavy but intense music, often even quite soft but equipt with very dramatical melodies. It feels a bit like a more modern version of very early Pink Floyd who also loved to use those drug inspired flying melodypassages that start very laid back and turn more and more majestic towards the end. Listen to Enio Nicolini and his mates under the name of Akron and your life will never be like it was before! 9

Rise and Shine: Flower Power Metal

Doesn't this term say it all? This is so damn heavy and hard driving rock music that you might think that the seventies are yet to come! Do you remember Janis Joplin? Forget her, she's found her successor, Josabeth Leidi, my personal singing goddess. A powerful woman with a powerful voice. I would fall in love with her if I had the chance to make her mine. Well, let us get away from pubescent dreams and start talking about the music. You get a cross between dirty, late 60s based thunderheavyblues and peaceful dopeoriginated doomrock! It will take you a while to get into the songs which are really dry and dusty sometimes but as soon as they got you, they will never leave you anymore! Listen to these furiously howling guitars and then try to stay on your feet, you can't! When Josabeth opens her mouth it is like conjuring a snake and the snake are you, poor listener! This band combines the best elements of Black Sabbath, Blue Cheer, Grand Funk Railroad, Led zeppelin, Big Brother and the Holding Company and even Motörhead! This is the only rocking band from the nineties that is really a must for your collection, forget about the others, well forget about all others but Internal Void, haha. When Rise and Shine rock the house down, be sure, you get what you want: Sweat, fire, blood and tears! This is pure rock fury! 9

Rise and Shine: Roadflower

And this is even better than the first one. The tunes are way more emotional, dramtical and powerful, heavier than ever before. The new drummer Erik must be from Hell, he punshes his kit with the power of a nuclear explosion. The rest of the band cannot stay behind so they light up one of the the biggest torches ever with their playing. And this time the melodies are a bit more accessible (but far from being commercially meant) so you will be dragged along even more intensely. The guitars shred and smoke over the whole distance of this record and even a kind of flute or whatever is used in one of the songs to power up the melodyline. This is really near to a state of divinity! Doomheads and rockers from allover the world here is your holy icon! 10

Hawkwind: the Elf and the Hawk

This is not just a collection of rareties by this great and influencing english psychedelic band, no this is far more, goes far deeper into the void where only the Hawkwind blows. It is a meet'n'greet album of Hawkwind and related or friendly bands and projects. It starts with a radio announcement for the broadcast of a hawkwind concert on BBC radio in 1973. Then we go straight into a Hawkwind tune, "Ejection", a fast and short powerrocker with a memorable melody that drives you insane. Insane is also the right description for what comes next. Dark Empire contribute an atmospheric piece of very early synthesized music, very hypnotic and certainly beautiful, spiritual. The name of the song is "The Human Race", an epic title of an epic piece of soundscape. This is from the mid eighties I think, some music made by the cover artist of the "Hawkfan" Zine, Bill Jones. Syndrone was a band during the eighties that played a kind of very hypnotic space / psyche rock with powerful guitars and wide ranging songstructures. They did never have the same line up on any recorded song. What we get here under the name of "Synprovisation" is a journey to the deepest corners of space, a lengthy trip, dark and charming. The quality of the recording is quite primitive, as it was for Dark Empire also, but this only strengthens the hypnotic atmosphere and puts the listener into a state of trance. Awesome! The drums here are thundering, megaheavy they kick the song into the right direction, into your mind, deeper and deeper into your mind. Heavy guitars and bass set in and back up the waving keyboards and lush guitarleads. Another Hawkwind tune comes next. This is a tribal dance like a horde of natives from Vinnland conjuring the spirits of the past, chanting to their ancestors and stuff. Also hypnotic, with bewildering vocals. It is of course simple structured, the part of the rhythms is very strong. Bassguitar and guitar set in a while later, backed with a powerful keyboard. This song reaches out ist claws for your mind and if it ever grabs it, you will never be free again. This is once more a trip though space, "Ghost Dance", yes, that's it! We all know Michel

Moorcock as a fantasy / space novellist. This track here is a mixture between demorecordings of songs that should have been released together with one of his books in the late 1970s but never saw the light of day, and a man telling the story of this Moorcock - project. The music is, well, tango, typical 3/4 rhythms, lush, tragic melodies, a deep and soulful voice chanting out the dark and sad lyrics. This is really awesome, even though it is quite unusual, but of course it's typical for this record. There are three demorecordings combined with spoken word passages. Two are beautiful tango, the third is a haunting piece of heavypsyche, the heavy and distorted leadguitar is backed with some clean electric guitars and bassguitar. From time to time a second leadguitar sets in for a short moment. Very gloomy indeed. And again, the rough demosound just makes it even better. This is not for weak minds, a musical nightmare. Underground Zero is another band that does not contain Hawkwind bandmembers but is just a bunch of fans that play a similar style. It is actually sounding strongly like Hawkwind, tons of fantastic melodies, very accessible but not wimpy at all, tons of synthesizers here and heavy guitars. This band has a female singer, a very good one, indeed. This is such a fantastic litlle hit song, the melodyline is so naturally happy, it lifts your mind up to a state of contentment. You will see some things through different eyes after listening to this song. Ripper. The name of the song is "Aimless Flight", yeah, a spacetrip with no beginning and no end, just for the feeling of flying. All the songs here again prove that there is so much great uncommercial rock music out there that we don't actually need what the record labels, tv and radio stations and major magazines try to tell us to like. Explore the underground! Back to this compilation which is already my favourite compilation ever. Dave Brock, the mastermind of Hawkwind comes now with a very heavy and relaxed spacerocker named "Burn me up". The melody is accessible even though it is far from a simple popsong. This track is strongly synthesized, only some guitareffects seem to be handmade. Nevertheless, this is cool and should be heard by all the lovers of fantastic spacerock. This album is definitely far from allday's music! Alan Davey, bassplayer in Hawkwind, also known as "The Elf" with a couple of his own songs. "Solar Gig" is a fast, rocking tune, entirely without vocals. The drums here are synthetic, the sound is very spacey, there are many effects. A very moving little piece of sound. "Cosmic Dawn" then is an orgy of sound in the true sense of ist title. Dark and monumental, yet very melodic. Close your eyes and you feel yourself sitting behind the frontscreen of your spaceship, watching, err, well, a cosmic dawn. The drums again are made by a machine, the rest is manmade music. Nice and relaxed is the atmosphere, telling you that you can feel save here. "Ode to a bass assassin" does not really differ from the once taken musical direction. Relaxed music with lush melodies that stick in your mind. "Chinese Whispers" is a bit heavier and faster, more powerful but still got this happy melodies. Somehow I get the idea of going crazy if I listen to this music too often. This is a smoker! Well, Alan Davey is a magician of sound and that proves his mighty melodic music. "The Switch", a short interlude, leads us directly into "Fractal Hunter", once more an orgy of hard driving melodies, a battle of rhythms. Your mind has already reached 500 lightyears from home! Fact is, that the faster songs of Alan Davey are good to dance to but do never sound like commercial radio pop. He knows how to write tunes of highest quality. "Spacerock" is his final tune on this CD before we get over to a Dave Brock / Robert Calvert - Project named PXR.1 "Spirit of thhe Age" is a mammut song, 12.00 minutes in length, deadly hypnotic. I know I use this term in a very inflational rate this time but nothing else fits here. My goodness, this is more than uplifting. This is devine. You drift upon the surface of an imaginary river within a crystal boat. You lay back and watch the dancing glow-worms on the banks of the river, where weird plants are growing. Do you feel this monumental strength inside your heart? You spread your angelic wings and head onward to the midnight sky, faster, deeper, unstoppable by time. This song here has this feeling of eternity and it closes one of the most magical compilations ever! 10 out of 10

V/A: Blue Explosion - A tribute to Blue Cheer

Bands such as Pentagram, Ufomammut, Internal Void, Fireball Ministry among others do coverversions of the heaviest band from the late 60s, namely Blue Cheer. And, have a guess, they are doing it very, very good! You will find some of the best bands from these days, playing the heavypsyche with passion and fire running through their veins instead of blood. Opening act on this colourful round dance is noone less but Mr. Bobby Liebling with his soulmate Joe Hasselvander, better known as the mighty Pentagram. This Baltimore based doom legend plays a stunning version of the song which set standarts considering heaviness for years in late 1967, the monument of primitivity, "Doctor Please" from the great "Vincebus Eruptum" album. Next band on the list is Internal Void, another Maryland Doom outfit that has just released the second album on Southern Lord Records. They do a powerful rocking "Parchement Farm", blasting it straight ahead into the faces of the listening fans. The howling guitars shred (as the guitars of Pentagram did before). Listen to the sound of the bassguitar, this rips off your balls, well, if you're male. I did not hear anything with this intense power before. And still, this is not too aggressive at all, just mindblowing heavy. Hogwash follow now with "Magnolia Caboose Babyfinger", which is as intense as the song before but not too heavy in the beginning. This is total flowery psychedelic stuff that starts getting sawing by the end of the song. "Out of Focus" is again from the blasting debut album of Blue Cheer and Thumlock do a version very close to the original. This band must be one of the best heavypsyche / doom bands these days, wish I knew where to get their albums. This coverversion proves that they have the spirit of the ultimate powerrock fueling their hearts. Natas is the best stoner doom band so far from south america, to get more concrete, from Argentina. They are more doom than stonerrock, they play "Ride with me" in a totally mindblowing way, just like an uprising thunderstorm unleashing lightnings and tons of rain upon mankind. Straight and superheavy! Number 6 on this album is Fireball Ministry with a short but hurting "Fortunes", which can also be found on their lates EP on Small Stone Records. Kick ass, thunderrock, what else can this be? Norrsken from Skandinavia, young dudes that sound exactly like 1971 heavyrock, play "Pilot", another ripping anthem of extreme 70s hardrock. Some jazzy solos come across the total heaviness of this track and add an extraordinary feeling to it. This band is my personal fave among all the Heavypsyche bands from today. Well, the misery is that I cannot find any of their releases. This is so mindblowing, I need more! Garybaldi is an old 70s progressive / hardrock outfit from Italy. "Fresh Fruits and Vegetables" from their hands has a very dark, slightly jazzy feeling, sounds allover progressive and fresh. When the haunting doomy powerpart sets in, your ears will bleed, definitely! Rise and Shine, yeah, the band with my favourite female singer ever. The almighty josabeth and her boyz do a cover of "Sun Cycle", which has a more bluesy feel, heavy and laid back this comes creeping out of the speakers. Wicked Minds are from Italy and they do "Just a little bit". Straight, slightly primitive and heavy as fuck. No further words necessary, just get off your seat and shake your hair, my friend! Standarte actually play a more sophisticated prog hardrock with a dark mood, using tons of organs. "Sandwich" is their covertune and it feels as if it was recorded back in the early 1970s. Standarte are the masters of 70s sounding hardrock and one of the few bands that can revive this special feeling. Sweden's Space Probe Taurus sound like nowadays stonerrock to me and they shred "Second Time Around" into little pieces. Man, this is heavy! I wanna hear their regular stuff, this must be awesome! Their yelling leadguitars and burning rhythmchords cut your resistance off and leave you in a state of trance. Try to free you from the hypnotic beats and bassboosts, you can't! Drag Pack are US Americans, play it loud, wild and loose! "Come and get it", well, if I were you I would not, they really seem to mean what they say. Furious hardrock strikes you down here! This band comes nearly closest to the original Blue Cheer next to Pentagram. Vortice Cremisis, what a weird name, but great music by the way. They come not as heavy as many others, they rock though. They took "I'm the light" to make it their own. Ufomammut are another italian ripper, I got their album which is metallic psychedelic doom, as intense as a bulldozer running over you. They even have some cool melodies that hide behind their guitar walls and distorted vocals, ready to unfold whenever you do not expect it. Their "Piece of Mind" version is a killer and definitely one of the best tunes on this album, while there are no weak tunes here for sure! Finally Pentagram are back again to play a second track, "Feathers from your tree", the opener of Blue Cheer's second LP "Outside Inside". This infernal overdrive of rock closes a tribute album that, compared to those big label commercial ones, does make sense for it is made by fans for fans and all the featured bands here are fans. 10 out of 10

V/A: King of the Witches - A tribute to Black Widow

While so many 70s dinosaurs are still chosen as most influential bands by commercial sapheads, here comes another act that has been really influential for the total underground. BLACK WIDOW. This was a progressive rock outfit from England that released a couple of albums between 1969 and 1972, all with a certain insanity backing up the songs. Their flutist / saxophonist Clive Jones is responsible for the dramatic intro of this tribute compilation and the almighty Death SS start the album with a damn heavy version of the classic 1970 tune "In Ancient Days". This melodyline must be heard, this is so haunting, that it will forever stick in your mind. After that we get away from the blasting metal of Death SS and drown inside the musical landscapes of Presence, an italian dark / progressive outfit, female fronted and really original. They cover "Attack of the Demon", totally different from the original tune. More relaxed, spaced out! Malombra are one of the best heavyprog outfits these days and totally shred on this version of "Tears and Whine". It is hard to describe the music to people who never listened to Black Widow before. The melodies are not usual standart lines, they have a magickal feel and Malombra transcend this depth and passion into the new millenium. Northwinds are actually a folk and doom inspired hardrock band from France and this is how their version of "Way to Power" sounds like. They add a traditional sounding passage and a doompart to the song before they let it take off. Awesome! Regular albums by Presence, Northwinds and Malombra can be found on Black Widow Records for sure. The making of those tribute albums shows how dedicated Massimo, who runs this label, is. Ars Nova is a japanese female trio, strongly jazz - influenced they play "Legend of Creation". Expect tons of organs, horn sections and more stuff like that. Death SS shred "Come to the Sabbath" with the hypnotic tribal "Come to the sabbath, satan is there" chorus now. What can I say, they rule! They would deserve a tribute themselves. Ha, wait and see! The Tempter are a spanish doom outfit and chose one of the more laid back, spiritual songs of Black Widow to cover. Their english is not free of a funny accent but this only adds some more identity to the song. They have done the mighty "Conjuration" from 1970 in a very weird version. The verses are deep, dramatic and haunting, while the chorus is jazzy, somehow slanting, very psychedelic indeed. They have made this a very original and progressive covertune! Well, what comes next? It is The Black. I have done reviews on two albums of Mario Di Donato's heavy doom / prog / psyche outfit and now they kick my ass again with this song, which is not as ceremonnial and slightly bulky as their originals. Not really bulky. What can we say about The Black? It is too strange to describe, just listen to them. Imagine organ driven hardrock crossed with freestyle jazz improvisations, dark ceremonnial music they play in churches, doom and psychedelicrock and you will get an impression on how The Black might be sounding. Enio Nicolini, their bassplayer has a soloproject named Acron, also reviewed above. Ok, fasten your seatbelts, the plane takes of from Napoli Airport and gets down on Tokyo Airport again. Church of Misery, a newer japanese Doomoutfit, a very good of course, has laid hands on "Accident" and made it a heavy, fuzzy psychedelichardrock tune with slaying guitars. This is actually from the third Black Widow LP, simply named "III". A dragging piece of music that captures the magick of the ancient days. Another japanese cult doom outfit these days is Eternal Elysium. The nasal vocals on the softest and most beautiful track from Black Widow's debut effort sound quite sick. The jazzy feeling is kept, only some heaviness has been added due to the use of powerful guitars here and there. The middle passage of this song has been changed a bit, not the structure itself but the way it's been played. It sounds way more psychedelic than jazzy. Well, this is also haunting. A very peaceful track is "Floating", done by Wuthering, another japanese outfit, this time more from the progressive genre as it seems. It is so beautiful and moving, hard to hold back your tears while listening. It takes a helluva spiritual power to compose it, but also to do a coverversion that shows both, the spirit of the original and the spirit of the band that does the coverversion. Wuthering make it as if it was nothing. Standarte come next with "The Sun" and they are definitely not singing about he english tabloid J . Soft and gentle, just like the original, this flowery track streams out of the speakers with its peaceful, lush melodies. As I said before, if any band really sounds like 70s rock nowadays than it is Standarte. These Italians have the original spirit within their hearts, even though they are just in their 30s. Fantasyy Factoryy is a german band with foreign vocalist, I think it's an english or canadian dude. I liked their first two albums. They do a cool version of "King of Heart" from "Black Widow III", add a dark, spiritual introduction to this actually light and sunny track and then, off it goes! And if this guy sings "I am the King of Hearts and I bring to you happiness and emotion", well, who will contradict? Abiogenesi is very strongly Black Widow influenced hardrock. They do the haunting "Mary Clark" from Black Widow's second album in an italian language version, which adds even more depth and atmosphere to this mindblowing rocksong. The end comes in form of Widow, a very obscure outfit. It is a very pop - styled version of Black Widow's megahit "Come to the Sabbath" and it somehow really comes cool! The singer of this band sounds like Black Widow's original vocalist Kip Trevor. Unfortunately this is a mystery, noone really seems to know who hides behind Widow. Well, here we are at the end of the second tribute compilation by Black Widow records and all we can say is that this awesome music needs to be heard! 9,5 out of 10

V/A: Beyond the Realms of Death SS - A tribute to Death SS

Fine! Italy's best and most controversial dark metal band ever, Death SS, around since 1977, gets a tribute compilation on its own. Tenebre from Sweden, one of the greatest dark heavyrockbands nowadays, do the opening with "Terror" in an ultimate heavyversion. Death SS nihilistic kind of songwriting transformed into an even darker direction, yes, this thing shreds. Next one is Internal Void, the mighty doomheads from Maryland. "Murder Angels", a fast and straight heavyrocker is their covertune and, well, they do it fast, straight and heavy. I like the nasty sound of the voice. Church of Misery make the third place with "Chains of Death", a straight but doomy song with a very heavy atmosphere and a hard driving groove. Monumentum, some people still know this dark gothic doom rock band from their awesome debut effort in 1995, which should have been released on Deathlike Silence Prod. Much, the label of Mayhem's guitarist Euronymous, much earlier but due to his tragic death has been delayed until Avant Garde Music took care of them. "Black and Violet", a very strange song of Death SS, maybe a solotrack of Paul Chain as I could imagine, dark and monumental, majestic and intense, haunting and scary, is their covertune. My french friends of Northwinds do the next song, "Night of the Witch", groovy, powerful doomy hardrock with folky overtunes from time to time. I really love these guys. Cultus Sanguine follow the winds with a straight and brutal version of "Horrible Eyes", the vocals are raw and heavy, not deathmetal like though. I like their covertune. Again Malombra appear on a tribute compilation. They cover "The Hanged Ballad", a very progressive and strange kind of piece, a ballad as the name indicates. But as we all know, Death SS is an obscure, strange and progressive band. Their version has a folky, somehow tribal feeling. The melody hits your bloodstream directly and will not fade from your mind anymore. "Equinox of the Godz" then have a deathmetal like shouter and somehow they sound like a gothic death band, typical for these days, but their coverversion shows depth and passion so they might be a star shining brightly through the clouds of weakness. They do "Liber Samekh". Stormlord is actually an average black metal outfit from Italy, they cover "Baphomet" and it sounds quite nice, even though it is the weakest song on this compilation. Some cool guitar tunes here and there attract me and somehow the caught the power of the original, but I heard their new album and I don't like this band. They could have left out Stormlord actually. Well, nevermind. Lord Brummel! What a strange name! I don't know if I should applaud or laugh myself to death but their "Baron Samedi" coverversion, which is a song from the best Death SS album so far, "Do what thou wilt", a very acessible but still progressive, heavy and gloomy track, is awesome. They have a typical heroic powermetal singer, it sounds like a progressive metal band that does a Death SS coverversion. Really cool thing! Spains doomlegion "The Tempter" does it a bit more relaxed, psychedelic but still powerful! "Spiritualist Seance" is pure obscure doom! Stone Immaculate do "Scarlet Woman" and it sounds like wierd circus music combined with french chanson. And this is only the intro but wait, there is more to come. Powerful heavygothicrock, a really tragic, deeply emotional melodyline that fits perfectly with the emotional voice of the singer, I cannot tell if male or female. This is one of the best and most original covertunes on this album. A rich, spiritual sound, very ceremonnial and hypnotic in once, makes it an interesting piece of italian dark music. There is a big scene for this kind of gloomy musical expression next to the typical happy humming metal. Stone Immaculate are fantastic. Abysmal Grief can keep this high quality. Their "Black Mummy" version is doomy and scary as it was supposed to be. They have a very outstanding vocalist, not technically the best but with a voice of his own, a very conjuring voice. I am not sure if this band plays this style on their original recordings but I will try to find out. This is doom, pure and spiritual as doom should be! Drastic play now the titletrack of the second Death SS album, "Black Mass", which was a very experimental piece of music, not an ordinary structured song in the true sense of the word. It reminded me of a dark version of old Pink Floyd noise orgies like "Be Careful with that Axe Eugene" or "A saucerful of Secrets", experimental beginnings that later turn into dragging, moving melodies. Again we have a ceremonnial feeling here. A conjuration of the highest lord of darkness, Satan himself takes place here. Sick but really original. You will not dare turn off the CD player, promised! So this is, for my taste, the weakest part of the tribute series but actually it is not weak at all, there is no song reaching an average level or getting even below that. So, well, grab this one as well, true followers of obscure, dark and progressive music. 9 out of 10

Il seigno del commando: same

Hell on earth, this is awesome. Mercy, vocalist of the mighty Malombra and the dark wave project Heldenrune with another side kick. This man is the personification of real creativity. What do we have to expect? Not the ordinary type of music. This is truly progressive. The atmosphere brings images of older italian horror movies to my mind. We often find those laid back melodies that seem harmless until you look beyond the surface and discover the ugly face of death. The songs themselves are not too simple structured, alot of different parts, changes within pace or emotional expression appear. Like a throne for the voice of the master, Mercy himself. Once listened to this album, you will not get the clever arranged songs out of your mind. Il seigno del commando leave out all bulky instrumental masturbation and concentrate on nearly accessible flowing passages. They are also not the heaviest band on earth beholding the instrumental side, it is always the atmosphere that scares to death. This album does not seem evil but don't believe what you see and hear, get behind the obvious and explore the unknown lands of terror! 10 out of 10

Malombra: Our Lady of the Bones

This is one of the best new progressive rock albums, if not one of the best progrock things that ever came out. You cannot compare this band to any other. Imaging one lengthy track, 20 minutes plus, consisting of many shorter pieces, all with a haunting, dragging and dramatic atmosphere and brillant, outstanding melodies, a complex world made of music. You wish to explore this world? Well, be welcome wihtin the strange dimension created by the almighty Malombra. This is already their Second effort from 1995, a mixture of technical overwhelming instrumental passages, lush melodylines, haunting vocals, fiery passionated heavy parts but also gentle, nearly fragile passages. And you will find all of this within the lengthy title track of the album. But this is not all you will find. Listen to this album a couple of times and the melodies will unfold their whole splendour deep within your burning soul where they will stick forever. Unable to remove them, you will be addicted to Malombra until your dying day. Malombra are not like any other progressive band. They write accessible tunes but build up a wall of darkness and mystery around them. That's the point. The magick of this album comes from the not too complicated but still complex arrangements. And just like any other band, to which he lends his voice, Mercy sits upon his musical throne and when he opens his mouth to unleash words upon mankind, his song is like the voice of a king. So do not hesitate to get a closer look at the colourful world of Malombra where magick is still alive and the hidden creatures still live in happiness! 10 out of 10

Presence: Gold

Man, what a weirdo! Presence, together with Malombra, build the spearhead of the new italian dark progressive music. You cannot really put this album into any basket, it is dark but not gothic, it contains electronical sounds and effects but it is no dark wave or industrial, it rocks but it is no mainstream rock, it is strange and original but it cannot just be labelled progressive rock, the singer got the voice of an angel and unfolds within the strong, soulful melodies that stick in your mind but it is far away from ordinary popmusic. Welcome to the world of Presence. This is already their third album on Black Widow Records and Massimo must be really proud that he can hold this innovative act on his label. Presence build their songs like landscapes. They do not just jam in the rehearsing room like other bands, they compose, they add parts and cut off parts, they are like inventors, a song is finished when they feel that it works. And sometimes bulky noises, weird samples and strange rhythms make up such a song. If you don't get along with slanting melodies and not really straight ahead but really intense music, well just leave out that one. Presence is music for progressive thinking minds. 9 out of 10

And here we are at the end of my report on Black Widow Records. Those records that will join my collection in the future and those interviews that I will do with Black Widow recording artists will be found seperately in the ordinary review / interview sections. The last thing I have to say is: Support Black Widow Records for this is the most uncommercial label in the world, the only one that got a concept and philosophy of total artistic freedom and spirituality. Black Widow Rec is run by addicts and idealists. Massimo, you rule!

Contact them at: to get a full impression of the rich choice of great obscure music on that label.