Review: “Zero And Below” by Crowbar

After the success of 2016’s “The Serpent Only Lies” from New Orleans Louisiana, Sludge Metal pioneers Crowbar the revolving door of musicians saw founding bassist Todd Strange return to the fold only to announce his retirement from touring in 2018 following the “Odd Fellows Rest” 20th anniversary tour however he still remains part of the outfit in a studio capacity. Joining him for the bands twelfth studio album “Zero and Below” are drummer Tommy Buckley, lead guitarist Matt Brunson and of course the legend that is Kirk Windstein and while the recording being their first in six years it’s probably fair to say the Windstein’s solo album from 2020 “Dream In Motion” will have the odd track played from it at shows…

…something like 32 years down have gone by since Crowbar first appeared on the scene and since then pretty much everything Windstein has touched has turned to gold, his gravel throated vocal tones unmistakeable and from the very start of this new album its very clear that absolutely nothing has changed. The riffs of “The Fear That Binds You” are straight from the bands signature book of Sludge Metal, that combination of swampy Hardcore Punk and Doom Metal somewhere between Black Sabbath and Pantera, a familiar skull crusher that hits the ground running in solid fashion before the slower and more menacing beast of “Her Evil Is Scared” takes root in a monolithic and tectonic plate rumbling style. Lyrically Windstein is once again inspired and scalding in his scathing delivery with a brooding smoky style that is second to none as he delivers a master class in how to get things done with some wonderful almost mournful touches appearing in the later cuts. Releasing “Chemical Godz” as the first single was a brainer because put simply it’s a timeless classic Crowbar cut from start to finish, chugging it’s way through the message of addiction with seismic riffs and smooth flow in flawless fashion. The crushing intensity of “Denial of The Truth” with its smouldering slow burn before bursting into flames in the finale is perfectly weighted; lyrically there is an uplifting message however its delivered with a glacial slow crawl and cacophonous growl that will crack a smile because this is the Crowbar way.

Yes there might be a few riffs similar to ones you’ve heard before but these are actually a very solid set of anvil heavy cuts that prove that the band still have the fire inside of them after all this time, the rage to overcome and there are more than a few here that will become live favourites going forward. “Crush Negativity” could be a perfect set opener, it’s slower first half getting the crowd warmed up before the slick tempo change for the punch in the face of a finale, a headbangers delight before the huge breakdown section of “Reanimating A Lie”, which is pure class. Quite how they have managed to maintain the level of quality without deviating from the path that they have created for themselves beggars belief because many others have fallen by the way side with regularity over those three decades and more. The title track is a grand finale and a masterpiece with an emotional vulnerability as it flows from electric to acoustic and back seamlessly, bringing to an end an album of gargantuan riffs, monolithic basslines and thunderous drums that sounds as huge as any of their previous works and leaves your ears ringing from the sonic excess in the purest form. “Zero And Below” is a another success story in the history of a band who can seemingly do no wrong [8/10]

Track listing

  1. The Fear That Binds You
  2. Her Evil Is Scared
  3. Confess To Nothing
  4. Chemical Godz
  5. Denial Of The Truth
  6. Bleeding From Every Hole
  7. It’s Always Worth The Gain
  8. Crush Negativity
  9. Reanimating A Lie
  10. Zero And Below

Zero And Below” by Crowbar is out 4th March 2022

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