A few years back, I got a promotional email from some record label hyping up Isolation Ritual, the new album from a band called HarborLights. I don’t know what it was that made me think I should follow that link instead of sending it to my trash like I do most other promos, but I was instantly entranced. The record was a stunning blend of post rock, Appleseed Cast-esque emo, and moments of blazing post metal.
But then, like all of us, HarborLights saw their world set afire by pandemic and lockdowns. From the ashes rises a beast no longer called HarborLights, but Widower, a two-piece that, while still identifiable as their former project, gives into their heavier urges with stunning results.
“Slow Burn” is, fittingly, a slow burn. It opens slowly, guitar arpeggios and synthesizers riding a steady drum beat, Matthew Wright’s vocals delicately hanging in the atmosphere. But at the chorus, the band erupts into a wall of noise, cymbals crashing against detuned guitars.
But where it really gets heavy is after the second chorus. A single chord holds for a moment before it collides with a bombastic breakdown. A fuzzy guitar solo soars into the atmosphere, leading the song up to the next chorus, which takes one deceptive acoustic-guitar-strummed breath before roaring again with even more fury—including some screamed vocals. It climaxes into a reprise of the breakdown before collapsing into a lone acoustic guitar and voice that fade like smoke from a smoldering pile of ash.
As far as reintroductions go, Widower has announced themselves like they’ve kicked down the door to a party. It feels more like a burning effigy of HarborLights than a follow up—and as much as I loved that project, that’s a good thing. One can only hope that there’s more coming, because my interest is definitely piqued.