Crowbar – Sonic Excess in its Purest Form – 4.5/5
The last of the essentials; there are many that could go here, (Eyehategod or Iron Monkey to name a couple) but this is an artist that never stopped producing music. Keeping to their tried and tested formula of bone crushingly slow bass riffs, rasped vocals and slow grinding drum beats; they tread a fine line between being slow-paced and simple without getting repetitive, maintaining a thick atmospheric aggression without belying that essential southern-rock groove, and once again they have succeeded in treading these lines remarkably well.
No instrument individually performs any outstanding duty, but rather they work in unison to produce a free form track, slowly evolving into climaxes and crescendo’s galore. The bass bringing in the bottom end, he often finds himself adding impact to the tones of the rhythm guitar and remains fairly lost in the end result. This bass excess is followed up with the guitars, often fleshing out the tone and providing some of the dirtiest sounding riffs the genre has to offer, occasionally the lead guitar producing a second layer to the fold, often the music not requiring it.
Intriguingly, the vocals feel unique in style, coming off naturally in the deep rasped emotional splendour, grinding through the thick backing, as if slowly pushing onwards against a monolithic tide created by the guitars and drums, which bring further creativity to their sound. Frequently changing the beats slightly each time they are played, and with no fear of the bass drum, the tempo may allow for a limited creativity but he provides a shining example of how it should be done.
What pushes their work beyond many others is more than just the simple instrumentation, the addictive crunch of their melodies, but the underlying emotion behind the music, the pains of living, and struggling to overcome it. They don’t dwell on pity, they don’t whine about it; instead they face their hardship and press on. This isn’t an album by musicians who have forgotten their way, or some cheap shot at the successes of their past, this is a sludge band who were there at the beginning and have yet to stop. ‘Eyehategod’ and ‘Iron Monkey’ may have both had great successes in the past, but crowbar still proves they have plenty more tricks up their sleeve.
Highlights: Awakening, In Times of Sorrow, It Pours From Me, Empty Room