The sludge metal band may reach more listeners with latest songs
Greg Dunbar, The Daily Evergreen
The underground sludge metal band Crowbar trudges on with the Feb. 8 release of “Sever the Wicked Hand,” their ninth album since rising out of the darkness in 1991.
Hailing from an era that spawned thrash metal and hardcore punk greats such as Pantera and Metallica, Crowbar remains alive and kicking while keeping to the genre they worship. “Sever the Wicked Hand” features two decades of experience in the obscure sludge metal scene and may be one of the band’s most powerful albums to date.
Founding member and vocalist/guitarist Kirk Windstein’s guttural voice cuts through the album’s deep instrumental tones with dark clarity, like a bizarre preacher of the metal faith. His style can be compared to Phil Anselmo of Pantera. While Anselmo could reach notes in the heavens, Windstein prefers to dig into the bowels of Hell for notes pitched as low as the Mariana Trench. Male rock vocalists typically range from high baritone to tenor, but Windstein essentially gives the classic metal middle finger to this notion and traverses the weighty bass ranges.
The first half of the album features slow, broken-down songs such as “Liquid Sky and Cold Black Earth” that crawl along at brutally sluggish tempos. However, the album’s title track severs the muddy pulsation and thrashes a hasty path in the album with its hardcore punk theme. “The Cemetery Angels” also speeds up an otherwise deliberately measured rhythm in the album’s first half.
The album’s midpoint is an instrumental track unlike the rest of the record with its clean guitar tones and shadowy chorus, titled “A Farewell to Misery.” While possibly out of place in such a heavy album, it does lead well into the next song, a hard-hitting, hellish anthem named “Protectors of the Shrine.” Crowbar formed in New Orleans, which has inevitably given the band a heavy southern rock influence. Traces of this can be heard in “I Only Deal In Truth” and “Cleanse Me, Heal Me.” The album ends with “Symbiosis,” a multi-dimensional cadence combining the melodic and rhythmic elements of the previous songs for a dynamic finale that will leave fans with hands raised in devil horn fashion. “Symbiosis” also features one of the sole lead guitar riffs on the album, a surprising touch in a record full of crunchy chords.
“Sever the Wicked Hand” is Crowbar’s latest release, but it may be the best album to introduce the band to new listeners. The thrash genre was prominent in the '80s and '90s but still resounds in Crowbar in the 21st century.