Widows - Oh Deer God
The stoner rock fuzz and groove of their past remains present and correct but there's a new aggression and edginess from the Nottingham band
Words: Andrew Field
It's been an awfully long time since Widows released Death Valley Duchess. Five years to be precise, and with a gap like that it's natural to wonder what's happening behind the scenes. Is it a Guns 'n' Roses Chinese Democracy scenario, or are the band just lazy? Writers block maybe? Perhaps someone has left and needs replacing (this had something to do with it, as recruitment of new bassist Phil Emblin seems to confirm). Whatever the reason, its a moot point now because Oh Deer God is a belter and more than worth the wait.
In hindsight the evidence that this second full-length release would be a doozy was already there. Widows live shows had become more and more incendiary over the last few years, with highlights being their standout performances at the 2016 Riff Fest and jaw-dropping support to Elder. The new material sounded more dynamic and edgy, and the quartet were clearly buzzing off playing it.
All that and more is manifested in Oh Deer God's seven tracks. Clocking in at just over half an hour, like all the best albums it doesn't overstay its welcome and leaves you wanting more. The stoner rock fuzz and groove of their past remains present and correct but there's a new aggression and edginess, a swerve into heavier and more sludgy territory. This is best evidenced on side two's 7-minute epic Ride To The Realm Of Coitus which opens with a slow bass/drum interplay before erupting into a monstrous beast of a riff that Eyehategod would be proud to call their own. Caffeine And Hatred is a 70-second punk sludge blitz which bristles and burns with real intensity. Even better is the title track, which should put Widows on the map: a headbanging foot-stomper with an earworm chorus that leaves its towering riff lodged in your brain for days.
Oh Deer God comes to a close with Germanium Buzz which opens like an Alice In Chains outtake before ending in a torrent of feedback and beautiful noise. It stops suddenly and unwantedly leaving with you no option than to press play and listen to the whole album again. And that's the sign you're listening to something mighty and possibly important.
Widows, with Oh Deer God, have risen up the food chain and find themselves at UK stoner sludge's top table. The crown now surely awaits them.
The album releases 14th April via UMC Recordings