Crowbar
Zero And Below

You see that symbol there on the left, emblazoned on the album cover of Crowbar’s new album, Zero and Below? That’s called a fleur d’lis ( Flower of Light), and is regarded as the symbol of the state of Louisiana, the city of New Orleans, and more importantly the logo for that city’s NFL team, my beloved New Orleans Saints. I have two of them tattoed on my body. I also own two Crowbar t-shirts, both adorned with a Fleurd’lis. Why do I tell you this? I’m just warning you this review won’t be impartial, or objective in the least, and there will be lots of references to the city of New Orleans. Consider yourself warned.

It’s been 6 years since we last heard from New Orleans’ Favorite heavy metal sons, Crowbar, when they released The Serpent Only Lies back in 2016, another sturdy, predictable Crowbar release. And that is exactly what we get with album number 12.

Even with a change in the bass player from Todd Strange to Shane Wesley, the recipe remains the same; a spicy, meaty gumbo of sludgy, downtrodden riffs, hefty grooves and gravelly vocals. And even if the quantity of more uptempo groove has been upped, as well as a slight decrease in doomy mopes and the production is as clean as it ever been, you still know you are listening to a Crowbar record. You are still eating gumbo, but instead of being served to you in a rusty hub cap by a hobo with a prosthetic arm as a serving ladle, in the 9th ward, you are eating it from a polystyrene bowl and plastic spoon from a well respected, but still greasy diner in the French quarter.

Opener “The Fear That Binds You” sums up this slightly more accessible gruel, with a nifty, groovy little stomp that again highlights Kirk Windstein’s time spent with Jamey Jasta over the years. And even though the song takes a moody turn at the end, its still not as hefty as we’ve come to expect from Crowbar. And that feeling sort of permeates most of the songs on Zero and Below; a little groove, a little sludge, just in slightly different amounts per song. For example, the second track “Her Evil is Sacred” is a little more sludgy and nasty, while “Confess to Nothing” is one of those doomier, depressive numbers where Windstein uses his grizzled, semi croon. Three bites in, and you’ve tasted everything the album has to offer. But, you keep eating, ‘cos it’s tasty even if your stomach churns a bit.

Want more bites of spicy andouille sausage-y groove? “Chemical Godz” and “Bleeding From Every Hole” (and its bonkers video above). Want more, thick, filé powder stock of fuzzed-out, hefty despondency? Go for “Denial of the Truth” and the album’s most ‘classic’ Crowbar sounding number,  “Crush Negativity”. Then finish up the dark shellfish roux with some icky, slower, soul-crushing doom with the album-closing, killer title track.

As with the last few albums before it, The Serpent Only Lies, Symmetry in Black, and Sever the Wicked Hand, Zero and Below is, of course, another quality Crowbar album, if, like Windstein, a little less hefty these days, but like those albums, I don’t see myself coming back to it as much as I do with Lifesblood of the Downtrodden, or still my go-to album, Odd Fellow’s Rest.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
March 28th, 2022

Comments

  1. Commented by: Longdeadgod

    I’ve been feeling this record pretty hard since they put out bleeding from every hole. There is some gnarly aggression and heft on here that I didn’t feel from the serpent. It’s nothing new, but cooked just right and maybe hitting the sweet spot after these last couple years of a world shittier than usual.


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