Sometimes it's hard for me to write a review of an album that I know I am gonna love before I even hear it. Because then when I do hear it, and I do love it, all I can think of is "It's awesome. Why do I have to convince anyone?" And in this case, it's Crowbar. Why do I have to convince anyone? I'll do my best regardless.
It's been 6 years since the last Crowbar album. 6 LONG years. But lone original member and mastermind Kirk Windstein hasn't been sitting on his duff. He's been busy with the venerable Down and Jasta colab, Kingdom of Sorrow. More recently, he's also been busy getting clean and sober. His journey through the process of getting clean and sober is the inspiration for Sever the Wicked Hand. They say the pen is mightier than the sword and the lyrics penned within are mighty indeed. It is they that sever the wicked hand. The wicked hand being that holding the blow or the drink. The beautiful and inspiring lyrics provide an interesting contrast to their delivery. Kirk's sandpaper vocals act as a physical reminder that despite the push towards positivity and the beauty of clean living, the battle is a harsh one. It's a battle I can relate to. I've struggled with alcoholism for years. It's a battle I'm still fighting and I have scars that will take a long time to heal. But Sever's lyrics about healing and cleansing and taking back control of your life have inspired me to push harder. Addiction is a very personal road to travel, and to be able to draw inspiration from someone that I look up to is pretty special. It makes the road a little less lonely.
Let's not forget the backdrop for all this traveling. In a Decibel interview, Kirk described Crowbar as a mix of Carnivore and the Melvins. Ashamedly, my experience with Carnivore is non-existent and with the Melvins it's limited. So in my mind, it sounds like Crowbar. I'll hear other bands with that NOLA sludge groove touched by some hardcore influence and think they are trying to sound like Crowbar. TRYING. The Crowbar sound is signature. Whether the tempo is fast or achingly slow, Sever the Wicked Hand delivers an aural beating. When Kirk and co. put the pedal down it's like being hit with large bore automatic gunfire at close range and when the pace slows to a plod, each note is like a concussion grenade right to the chest. This is powerful stuff. The memorable riffs and sonic beatdown come courtesy of a bottom end that'll shake your house off its foundations and muted notes that sound like chainmail being scraped across sheet metal. And the drums pound with the force of a crumbling sky. In other words, it's classic Crowbar. You have to remember, this is the band that made "Dream Weaver" sound heavy. (That Inhale 4:20: The Stoner Rock Compilation was badass!)
6 years is a long time between albums. But as the saying goes, good things come to those who wait. The patient have certainly reaped the rewards of their steadfastness with Sever the Wicked Hand. A demon is slain on the Adam D. designed cover and inner demons are slain on the masterpiece found within. Not only will this album stand up as one of Crowbar's best ever, but I think it's an early favourite for 2011 Album of the Year.