“Sever The Wicked Hand” by Crowbar

Artist: Crowbar
Title: “Sever The Wicked Hand”
Label: E1 Entertainment
Release Date: 2/8/2011
Genre: Doom Metal/Stoner Metal
Rating: 4/5

At this point in Metal’s history there are more genre qualifications than you can shake a stick at or even easily count up on two hands. With that being said, thank the Dark Gods of the genre that bands who remain a constant and reliable source of the purest sound of them all still exist in the likes of Louisiana’s own Crowbar. The band has been absent from the studio for around six years while its band members kept busy in side projects and touring details and I can honestly say that this album was very well worth waiting for. The lineup is a little different from the ones that the bands legacy fans might remember but one can always trust the selections of Kirk Windstein when it comes to this group. For “Sever The Wicked Hand” he assembled a crushing roster that brings Crowbar into the next decade without forgetting their storied past. Joining Kirk for the release are drummer Tommy Buckley (Soilent Green), guitarist Matt Brunson (Kingdom Of Sorrow) and bassist Patrick Bruders (Goatwhore) and each shows their capabilities on every track. Six years is a long time in a band members life, and Windstein shows that it has only made him stronger since the last release of “Lifesblood For The Downtrodden” and with their new material there is no resting on laurels for the band as much as there is the delivery of righteous Metal justice as only they can.

It starts off on the slow and sludgy side with “Isolation (Desolation)” and the listener will immediately find their head slowly moving up and down to the groove but to keep things interesting and unpredictable, for the title track that follows there is more of a Hardcore meets Thrash vibe that brings us to a peak before bringing us back down low. While not overly drastic in its changes from older Crowbar material, there are many peaks and valleys in the bands sound on this one that make you veer off course and smile with approval again and again. “As I Become One” was notorious for this and slowed down to a harmonic melody before bashing in my skull for its closure. There is plenty of Doom to be found as the band were surely pupils of Black Sabbath and Tony Iommi riffing and that feel is all over the release but it is songs like “A Farewell To Misery” that present to the listener a wiser and more mature Crowbar coming into play. This number is more of an interlude than a full on song, and is laden with atmosphere and finds an almost keyboard sounding guitar playing over solemn choral type vocals. “Protectors Of The Shrine” comes up next and hits you like a Mack truck with its solid double bass drumming and sharp riffs. Satisfying? Hell yes. This is a consistent listen and one that keeps you entertained from the moment it begins playing through. Of course I kind of expected this from Crowbar. Six years is a long time to be away from one’s main project in terms of new recordings and the world that influences the material is very different from the one we last heard from them in. It was clear that these changes have firmed up the resolve all the more in the mind of Windstein when it came to what Crowbar would be dishing out. This is a very good thing. I am confident that the whole of the release will impress the bands long time fans and not leave them thinking the band has gone commercial or gone in a different direction from what they enjoy. Are there some varied paths taken on this one? Well of course there are but that is what made it so interesting to listen to. I will leave the rest of the discoveries to your own investigation and you can thank me later.

I’m always a fan of the booklet included on releases because of my being so “Old School” and not fully moving into the digital only age where such things no longer really exist so I was happy to find us getting some lyrics and cryptic artwork. The cover showcases an Archangel of some kind bringing justice to a demon in the sense that the albums title references while the back cover displays some severed “wicked hands”. Additional images of good and evil are presented throughout the booklet and bring the vibe to better life. This is the first new album on the bands new label of E1 Entertainment so I hope it does well for them under this brand. E1 got the Metal fans appetites whet for their arrival with last year’s release of three of the bands classic albums from their Spitfire Records days when they issued “Crowbar”, “Live + 1” and “Time Means Nothing”. Be sure to check those out as well. If you are still looking for a reason to enjoy some Crowbar and have not yet purchased any of their work, I can honestly say that “Sever The Wicked Hand” is a perfect place to start. Play it loud and crack open a bottle of your favorite beverage as it plays though. You will not regret it.

Track Listing:
01. Isolation (Desperation)
02. Sever The Wicked Hand
03. Liquid Sky And Cold Black Earth
04. Let Me Mourn
05. The Cemetery Angels
06. As I Become One
07. A Farewell to Misery
08. Protectors Of The Shrine
09. I Only Deal In Truth
10. Echo An Eternity
11. Cleanse Me, Heal Me
12. Symbiosis

Official Website: http://www.crowbarmusic.com

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