The album opens with an old school hard rocker “Lady Twilight,” which heads back into that original early 1980s metal territory that I liked so well on On Fire. The song flat out rocks, with a wailing guitar riff and a great chorus hook that gets stuck in your head. It reminds me of recent efforts from acts like White Wizzard and Holy Grail.
Though, I’ll admit that I don’t remember much about Nightlife, based solely on my review of it, it would seem that vocalist/bassist John E. Wooten’s chops have improved a bit over the years. I really like his approach here, and the songwriting also seems to have gotten better. He’s dropped the occasional screams in favor of a full-on traditional metal approach and it absolutely works.
Though “Lady Twilight” is probably my favorite track, there are plenty of good ones here. “In Dreams” opens with a classic clean guitar lick that puts me in mind of some of Judas Priest’s earliest work. It’s nice and tasty. There are some great vocal harmonies on the track and another catchy chorus. “Take Hold of the Night” picks up the pace of the record again, delivering an epic chorus with an infectious galloping heavy guitar riff underneath. It runs a close second as my favorite of the record.
“The Burning Ones” takes the band more into power metal territory, but the opening riff is great, and there are some very nice leads in the song by guitarist Chris Bennett. Those lead licks carry over into “Live Beyond,” which also features a big power riff. “I Scream for Ice Queen,” perhaps the heaviest number on Life’s Blood, bashes with thrash-like intensity in the early going, and I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t the cheesy sex song that I expected from the title. It’s actually a pretty tough, hard-driving and dark number.
There are certainly highlights on the record, notably the first three songs, but there really isn’t a bad tune from start to finish. Life’s Blood has everything you want from a traditional metal album – big guitar riffs, cool vocal harmonies and memorable melodies and hooks. Among the recent spurt of neo-traditional metal albums, it’s one of the few standouts that pays tribute to the roots of the music, but doesn’t try to mimic the classic artists. It’s good stuff, and I’m back on the Widow bandwagon.