Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Initial Impressions: Crowbar: Sever the Wicked Hand

The fact that this is the first 2011 album I bought tells you a few things. First, I have not been ordering much music online due to my ongoing efforts at starting my own firm, and second, Hastings has been really horrendously bad at getting new metal in lately. So with that out of the way, this is the first 2011 album I have bought. I did review those albums for Metal on Metal Records but that does not really count.

Now, on to the actual review.

Crowbar is of course a legendary band from the swamps of Louisiana. This is their first album since 2005 and features most of the things you would expect from a Crowbar release. Crowbar is the baby of Kirk Windstein, who uses the band as a vehicle for expressing his own personal struggles and hardships, in particular with this album, his ongoing attempt at sobriety.

Windstein's sludgy, doom-laden riffs are of course the main highlight in any Crowbar album. His Sabbathian riffs are extremely distorted and down-tuned and they twist and writhe along with the pounding rhythms. The rest of the instrumentation is impressive as well, but let's be honest here, this is Windstein's show at this point. The other musicians are just along for the ride.

The lyrical theme of the album is, as I mentioned, Windstein becoming sober. Even the cover art and title of the album allude to it. Windstein has a gift for writing heart-wrenching and somber songs and he takes full advantage of it with the tracks "Liquid Sky and Cold Black Earth" and "Let Me Mourn".

This is a powerfully emotional album. It's often slow, but oppressively heavy. Windstein has done a lot of work with other bands, such as Down and Kingdom of Sorrow, but he always saves some of his best work for Crowbar. This is an early frontrunner for Album of the Year.

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