I do love Crowbar. They are just one of those bands that always seem to be unappreciated and underrated as they producing consistently uncompromising records with zero pretentiousness. Kirk Windstein, the singer/guitarist and only original member, is a big guy and maybe that’s one of the reasons, that he doesn’t fit the metal stereotype guy. For those of you unfamiliar with Kirk, he has a talent for writing gigantic riffs and is probably more well known for being the guitarist in Down which he has only recently quit. He has quite a history with Phil Anselmo however, and Phil helped produced Crowbars self-titled classic second album way back in 93, and his house core label was also involved in prior albums.
Crowbar is one of the leaders of sludge metal and the New Orleans metal scene, with their brooding lyrics, low tuning and huge riffs. Moving away from Down has clearly been important, as this album is the strongest I have heard in years. Now on Century Media, Kirk has released 12 tracks of brutality as he drags you along on his crawl of agony. The album layout is a stripped-back affair, with lyrics and a single pic of the band but everything that matters is in the right place.
“Walk with knowledge wisely” is the opener and begins with a typical type of Southern Groove that makes your speakers hum and then all of a sudden you know it’s a crowbar when the dramatic tempo change explodes in the chorus. Not bad, but maybe I would have put third or fourth on this album, given how strong some of the other material is. “Symmetry in white” is a different beast altogether. What a monster. Kirk starts with a mammoth riff combined with vocals that are psychedelic Alice in Chains. And just when it can’t get heavier, after the second chorus, a sprawling, colossal contender for riff of the year is unleashed. I listen to it once more before I go to the next track. This feels like what they should have opened with. My favourite song and proof that Crowbar is back and in a big way. “The taste of dying” is third. Man, does Kirk ever not have his riff on? Another sludgy classic, but a bit more uptempo. “Ageless decay” changes it up as blast beats start this aggressive piece until the grinding metal crunch of Kirk brings it back to more familiar territory. “Amaranthine” is an interesting, atmospheric sort of thing that adds a bit of light and shade to the album.
Best Crowbar album in ages, please bring them to Australia someone… anyone…
Release Year: 2014
Label: Century Media Records
Reviewed by Matt