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Album Review : Crowbar : Zero and Below

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Review by Sheri Bicheno for MPM

None Heavier. The Crowbar motto that has followed the Louisiana lads for the timeline thus far of the band, rings true in many ways.

After twelve albums and a music lifeline spanning over 30 years, you’d expect that avenues of different abilities to wow your audience would spread a little dry at times. But no. No sorry, Crowbar followers. Shush and listen…

When I think Sludge Metal, one name that appears amongst the list that carved this wondrous genre are Crowbar.

I personally find that this is partly why their sound is always so raw, it’s stripped back to the roots and is purely genuine.

Gnarly, doomy, with slabbing and chuggy Sludge riffs, slow beat but hard hitting drums – exactly what you expect.

Though, the new offering Zero and Below after six years since the last album The Serpent Only Lies, was welcome news and is an unforgivably Doomy addition since their earlier releases. An album of riff induced, heavy, dirty layers with dark bass hooks and vocals that echo into you.

Starting with The Fear That Binds You, a downright vortex of slabs of concrete riffs and vocals that fumes ambience. It sets the bar for the rest of the album and once again, we are given a taste of exactly what Crowbar are about. Crushing. Relentless crushing.

Crowbar have ways to evolve the negative energy that seeps through their sound into something almost quite cosmic. You‘ll note chaos, you’ll note suffering, you’ll acknowledge the well oiled machine of ambience fuelled with emotion.

Which can be said for most of this album.

Denial of Truth is eerie.

“Cleanse my soul and let it comfort me

Spreading your black wings won’t set you free

Denial of the truth is just a lie

Your heaven and your hell become entwined.”

The tempo on this track is slowed down considerably. Some of the aggression is soothed but the ever present sense of doom is always apparent. However, the tempo does heighten in the last leg of the song and you’re still left with the familiarity of Crowbar’s intense style.

Chemical Godz, Confess To Nothing and Her Evil is Sacred pummel you slowly, but somehow, the energy is enough to be pit-worthy in any live setting. Riff induced, full of energy and vibes that throw you straight into the cosmos.

Bleeding From Every Hole intriguingly, is the pissed off track on this album. Almost extreme vibes but still staying with atmospheric streaks laced through the track which peaks you into a sense of different direction and then pulls you back unawares.

The drums on Zero and Below are thunderous and flawless. They set the tempo of the album and the backbone of the chugging riffs and underlining bass. In Always Worth The Gain, the elements of sludge are still apparent, but the drums bring the rock and roll vibe that this track offers.

Final track fittingly titled Zero and Below is the closing chapter for this wonderful record. Instrumentally and vocally, it brings us to a slow and chilling resolution.

“Please, don’t end it all

Close your eyes, don’t fall

There’s no coming back

Never fade to black.”

Melodic strings always build a track’s picture for me and clouds atmosphere, emotion and a mental view of what you’re interpreting in your mind’s eye.

I see music in colours and scenes, much like anyone, I imagine and although it may sound doom and gloom… it’s also a stunning and beautiful place. Doom and gloom, as we know, does not always equate to negative aesthetics.

This final offering is real slow, complete with acoustic interlude and dual guitar melodies that match. I come away from this album with a serious happy dose of what I was looking for and to be honest, Crowbar do not stray far from what they’ve always done. They keep true to their roots and in an ever changing world right now, I am happy with that.

WatchBleeding From Every Hole

Crowbar are:

Kirk Windstein – Vocals & Rhythm Guitar

Tommy Buckley – Drums

Matt Brunson – Lead Guitar

Shane Wesley – Bass


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Spotify: Crowbar Spotify

Website: http://www.crowbarnola.com/

YouTube: Crowbar YouTube

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