Crowbar
Sever the Wicked Hand

There are a few bands that come to mind when you simply mention a genre. Mention East Coast death metal and folks will more often than not say Suffocation or Dying Fetus. Mention Floridian death metal and Obituary, Cannibal Corpse or Morbid Angel will be the first bands to pop out of most people’s mouths. Mention Southern sludge and I think you find the preeminent reply will be one name: Crowbar. Sure a few folks might say Eyehategod, Soilent Green or even Down, but when it comes down to it, Crowbar are pretty much the alpha and omega of Southern tinged, heavy as balls sludge metal.

Being one of the few bands you can instantly recognize from only few bars or chords, Crowbar have been plying their hefty hues now for 20 years now with a stubborn dedication to their sound that has changed minimally over the course of nine albums. Sure, the labels have changed, producers have come and go and the band has had more line-ups than the New Orleans Saints Linebackers, but the constant girth and steadfast work ethic of one person has remained. And with him, that distinct sound: Kirk Windstein.

Sure, he’s been away flirting with Jamey Jasta in Kingdom of Sorrow and releasing acclaimed albums with Down, but the six year layoff since Lifesblood of The Downtrodden has produced a cleaner, sober Kirk Windstein, and now all his focus, conviction and grizzled years have been concentrated into every note of Sever the Wicked Hand, an unmistakably Crowbar album which shows that staying the course can yield successful results…just ask Dismember and Bolt Thrower.

Joined by guitarist Matthew Brunson (Kingdom Of Sorrow), bassist Patrick Bruders (Goatwhore) and drummer Tommy Buckley (Soilent Green), Crowbar is now rounded out by some other suitably grizzled and Southern and veteran players that imbue the already steamy, crawling Louisiana sound with even more authenticity. Look no further than the first single, “The Cemetery Angels”, for a microcosm of Sever the Wicked Hand’s perfect rendering of Southern sludge; energetic, perky hardcore-ish trot, a solemn chorus and a HUGE, (possibly the hugest groove Crowbar have ever unleashed) breakdown to end the song.

Along with all the expected trademark crumbling, rumbling, oozing heft and Windstein’s trademark gravelly shouts (“Isolation (Desperation)”, “Protector of the Shrine”, “I Only Deal in Truth”, fucking meaty “Cleanse Me , Heal Me”), Sever the Wicked Hand, as with past releases, manages to inject some classy moments of crushing, somber introspection and acoustic southern charm. And we know Crowbar has never been the happiest musical outlet, but these moments seem to be much more of a cathartic release for Windstein, who in the last five years has endured death of loved ones (Dimebag Darrell), birth (his daughter), getting clean and natural disasters (Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath). Moments such as the mid-song break in “As I Become One”, the massive melancholic lurch of “Liquid Sky and Cold Black Earth”, the woeful “Let Me Mourn”, acoustic interlude of “A Farewell to Misery”, and fatherly ballad “Echoes of Eternity” are drenched with emotion, but all of it is undeniably Crowbar. With Windstein himself producing, along with some aid from Zeuss (Hatebreed, Kingdom of Sorrow, Shadows Fall, The Acacia Strain), Sever the Wicked Hand is as big as Crowbar have ever been (musically, not literally).

The only thing that would have made the album more awesome is if the angel on the cover was stabbing Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons with his Fleur D’ lis emblazoned sword of destiny.

Ultimately, Crowbar is the musical personification of New Orleans itself; sweaty, filthy and unwanted, but at its heart, resilient, robust, organic and here to fucking stay.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by E. Thomas
March 2nd, 2011

Comments

  1. Commented by: Fred Phillips

    “The only thing that would have made the album more awesome is if the angel on the cover was stabbing Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons with his Fleur D’ lis emblazoned sword of destiny.”

    Haha. Love it. Great review.


  2. Commented by: Wharwulf

    Great writeup, Erik. Been digging this one quite a bit as well.


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