|Crowbar - 'Sever The Wicked Hand' (Century Media)|
|Written by Darrel Sutton|
|Sunday, 20 February 2011 05:00|
With Kirk Windstein's involvement in two other bands with such high profiles i.e. Kingdom Of Sorrow and Down, it's actually a surprise that it's "only" six years since the last Crowbar album. Whilst that kind of gap would seem an eternity for everyone except Metallica you can forgive Kirk his diversions when you consider the quality of those projects. But Crowbar has always been what Kirk is all about and whilst they've achieved legendary status with those in the know, in the grander scheme of things they've been a bit of a cult band, albeit a fucking brilliant one.
So hopefully the success of KOS and particularly Down will attract a horde of new fans to check out 'Sever The Wicked Hand'. Speaking with regards to the album, the band see this as probably their most important release to date and having lived with it for a few weeks I can certainly see it taking them to wider audience and blowing their heads off in the process. Not that it's changed the age-old Crowbar formula, but because what it does is showcase the masters of sludge at the very top of their game. Having defined heaviness with their down-tuned catharsis, they show that whilst imitation is the greatest form of flattery there's no substitute for the original and best.
Opening track 'Isolation (Desperation)' kicks off with the down-tuned guitar harmonies we've come to know as Crowbar's signature before lurching into the first of many gut churning Windstein riffs. The cathartic experience envelopes you as Kirk's tortured vocals have you immediately engrossed. Having recruited KOS guitarist Matt Brunson, Kirk really seems to have found his ideal brother in riffage and the old faithful rhythm section of Tommy Buckley and Pat Bruders are as tight and punishing as ever.
The title track also reveals in its lyrical content the loose theme behind the album. Inspired by Kirk's newly found sobriety, it tells of getting rid of the negativity in your life, whether it be a shit relationship or an addiction. It also happens to be classic Crowbar.
However don't be led to believe that there's all shade and no light on this album. As punishing as the slower, sludgy tracks on this record are, it also contains more quicker songs and sections than any of their output since 'Broken Glass'. Anyone who caught them on their recent demolition of the UK will doubtless have been blown away by 'Cemetery Angels', and 'Protectors Of The Shrine' is a mid-paced slayer of a song, taking the crushing riffs and speeding them up just a few notches. 'Cleanse Me, Heal Me' harks back to the heyday of 'Lack Of Tolerance' and is a fucking monster, before 'Symbyosis' lurches forward to end the album in trademark sludge.
In summary, a cracking comeback from the true masters of heaviness and riffage.