Crowbar - Lifesblood For The Downtrodden 2005 Candlelight Records --EC
1. New Dawn 2. Slave No More 3. Angels Wings 4. Dead Sun 5. Strained 6. Holding Something 7. P.D.R. 8. Take All You've Known 9. Moon 10. The Violent Reaction
It has been years since I've dug up a Crowbar album. I really lost track of these guys eight or nine years ago. I guess I've really been under a rock as Crowbar continue to push out genre defining staples of Southern fried sludge. Maybe I focused my doomy captures on the sounds from England, the Cathedrals and Count Ravens of the world instead of looking into the Southeast, to the New Orleans bayou where Crowbar reside in all of their broken glass splendor. What a great jumping on spot for listeners like myself, with "Lifesblood For The Downtrodden" the first record from these motor breaths in three long years.
In a way this is a brand new Crowbar, with guitarist/vocalist Kirk Windstein the only remaining member of the group's lineup. Windstein brings in former Black Label Society member Steve Gibb (G), Pat Bruders (B), and Tommy Buckley (D) to round out this particular version. The album is produced by Rex Brown (Pantera, Down) and Warren Riker (Corrosion Of Conformity, Down) in true southern sludge style. If those two guys can't understand the Crowbar style then nobody does. With "Lifesblood For The Downtrodden" Crowbar continue marching forward, further defining a sound that they helped create and establish. My dropping off point was somewhere around "Broken Glass" and I see that time has definitely not changed the styling of the group. With down tuned guitars and sidewalk shattering groove, these doom dragons embark on another full length of loud blasting sludge. But unlike prior albums I have heard, Crowbar have decided to tone down a bit, invoking some powerful images through style and grace. With emotional songwriting and the dramatic presence and character of Windstein, these New Orleans bad boys aren't dishing out the punishment, instead kicking back to bask in the moment. With plenty of huge groove and stomping riffs, the old sounds of the band can't be forgotten. This time around I do hear a bit of melody and maturity sinking in though.
Certainly with cuts like "Coming Down" and "Fall Back To Zero" the band showcase discipline and integrity. Both cuts are slow tempo numbers that really showoff Windstein's unique ability to lull a listener into a hypnotic trance. This type of material reminds me of the ballad styled song structures found on Corrosion Of Conformity records. Closer "Lifesblood" displays the same sort of vibe, almost bringing in a Western feel with plenty of Spanish styled acoustic guitar and Windstein's mournful howls. Crowbar never lose sight of what brought them this far however. Opener "New Dawn" is prime southern sludge with plenty of bottom heavy chops and bone crushing rhythms. "Angel's Wings" is probably some of the fastest material I've heard from the band, really dishing out brutality in the vein of Marauder and Eye Hate God. Other solid cuts is the Sabbath doom worshiper "Holding Something", smasher "The Violent Reaction", and my favorite track of the album, "Underworld".
Hopefully this release will do well for the veterans. With so many hardcore acts and death metal monsters floating through the arenas, now would be a perfect time for Crowbar to reconnect with their fan base. I know I will be on board again and I really hate that I have missed a majority of the band's discography. The Crowbar sound should be really favorable to today's metal market. "Lifesblood For The Downtrodden" is a fabulous album and one that will hopefully kick start a whole new doom and sludge movement here in the states. Look for Crowbar on tour in 2005 with Entombed, Pro-Pain, and Mighty Nimbus.
Album Cover- http://www.crowbarmusic.com/
Band Site- http://www.crowbarmusic.com/
Label Site- www.candlelightrecords.co.uk
About this Writer: Eric Compton // Eric Compton lives in the most haunted city in the world, St. Augustine, Florida with his family and two yorkies. He has served as senior editor for MaximumMetal.com for nearly 10 years and is the author of the heavy metal book series--Denim & Letters. His reviews, interviews and social commentary has been featured on websites like Brave Words, Blabbermouth, Metal Temple, Metal Rules, Ultimate Metal, Metal Maniacs and Wikipedia.
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