Sludge metal titans Crowbar have never really received the recognition they deserve, the hardcore fanbase has always been there but Crowbar seem to remain on the underground fringe. However, Crowbar return with their ninth studio album, “Sever The Wicked Hand”, almost 20 years since their first release “Obedience Thru Suffering”. Will this album finally see them break through and reach wider acclaim? A lot has changed in the 20 years between the two albums, band members have come and gone, some have returned but one have remained constant throughout the years. Kirk Windstein is not only the driving force behind Crowbar, he is Crowbar.
A full six years on from their last full length release “Lifesblood For The Downtrodden”, due to Kirk Windstein’s other commits in Down and Kingdom Of Sorrow. Crowbar finally unleashed “Sever The Wicked Hand”, the first album written and recorded since Windstein’s sobriety. Did this mean that “Sever The Wicked Hand” would be a watered down, tame version of Crowbar? Not in the slightest, this album is full of raw power and emotion, being sober seems to have given Windstein a whole new lease on life.
The opening track, ‘Isolation (Desperation)’ is a statement of intent… the duelling deep guitar harmonies give way to the trademark sludge/doom Crowbar sound. The lyrics are rather poignant too, “You’re never coming back into the Isolation, into the desperation” cries Windstein. Whether this is in reference to the years of booze or not, we don’t know but it’s pretty powerful stuff! The title track ‘Sever The Wicked Hand’ cranks up the tempo tenfold at the beginning but loses none of the bleakness before slowing back down. “You’ll never feel this way again, just let it go and live with it”, again Windstein appears to be making reference to his bygone drinking days.
‘Liquid Sky And Cold Black Earth’ and ‘Let Me Mourn’ bring the pace right down in the true to form Crowbar sludge/doom style with Windstein’s haunted vocals riding atop the melancholic wave. ‘The Cemetery Angels’ is one of the tracks that stands out as single material, the face pace interwoven with a groove will certainly have a wider appeal but also stays true to the Crowbar legacy with its ultra slow beatdown ending. ‘As I Become One’ keeps the tempo up and is heavy on the groove again
Crowbar take a lighter turn with ‘A Farewell To Misery’ the guitar distortion is gone but this only adds the gloomy mood. There are no lyrics, other than a chant laying over the music but this track oozes with emotion. ‘Protectors of the Shrine’ and ‘I Only Deal in Truth’ return things back to normality with two more up-tempo monsters, complete with groove laden break downs. ‘I Only Deal in Truth’.
‘Echo an Eternity’ pours on the misery again, dropping the pace to match. ‘Cleanse Me, Heal Me’ proceeds to blow away the misery with angry vocals and punishing riffs, another one of the stand-out tracks on the album. ‘Symbiosis’ rounds out the album with more groove, slowly giving way to the slower paced trademark Crowbar sludge.
“Sever The Wicked Hand” is a great album, Windstein’s sobriety hasn’t diminished the Crowbar machine, in fact, it has added more fuel to the fire! This album has certainly been one of the highlights so far this year and will no doubt be knocking on the door of the Top 10 of 2011!