Crowbar – Sever the Wicked Hand

By Gruesome Greg

Though I’ve been waiting a long time for a new Crowbar album, I wasn’t too sure I’d be pleased with the end result. Their last few recordings were somewhat lacklustre, and then there’s that whole Hatebreed influence, as heard on Kirk Windstein’s two releases with Kingdom of Sorrow. (I’ll never forget seeing Jamey Jasta—not Kirk—singing “Self-Inflicted” and “All I Had” the one time I saw KOS live. Ugh…)

Alas, there is some of that hardcore chugging to be found here, but it’s kept to a minimum. Opener “Isolation (Desperation)” has a great winding sludge riff, and a classic Crowbar breakdown, but the chorus is karate-choppable. The title track is almost the opposite—fast-paced, pounding verses with a killer slow chorus driving in the final nail. That Windstein signature tone sounds just as evil as ever on this record, and compliments his hoarse vocals perfectly. “Liquid Sky and Cold Black Earth” features both prominently; three songs in, and I’m not complaining…

“Let Me Mourn” and “The Cemetary Angels” are the so-called singles, released ahead of time on the internet. The former sees Windstein soar above a downtuned, mournful sludge barrage, while the latter is a barn-burning hardcore stomp that ends on a slow note. While not my favourite tunes on the album, both are pretty decent.

After a spiritual instrumental interlude, in the form of “A Farewell to Misery,” the album’s second half features more of the same, slow, meaty and heavy riffage serving as an anchor for Windstein’s anger, his words grounded in reality as always, with enough tempo changes to break up the monotony. Dude produced the record, too, which makes sense—it really sounds great.

Don’t get me wrong, the days of Time Heals Nothing and the self-titled are long gone, but if  Sever the Wicked Hand sparks a Crowbar revival, I’m all for it. In fact, I’ve already got my ticket to see ’em with Saint Vitus, Helmet et al in Cleveland next month…

(E1 Metal)

Sean Palmerston

Sean is the founder/publisher of Hellbound.ca; he has also written about metal for Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs, Roadburn, Unrestrained! and Vice.