Wednesday, 7 December 2016

ALBUM REVIEW: Crowbar - "The Serpent Only Lies"

By: Richard Maw


Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 28/10/2016
Label: E.One Music |
Steamhammer



Each album is demonstrably different while maintaining a common thread so no record is out of place within the discography. Stylistically, I would say that this is closer to “Symmetry...” than “Lifesblood”, and perhaps is a little closer to the band's earliest material, but at the end of the day: it's Crowbar. Where this album sits in the band's discography will only be fully revealed over time, but I can say that it has got better and better with each listen. What a band. Appreciate them while they are here.

“The Serpent Only Lies” CD//DD//LP track listing:

01. Falling While Rising
02. Plasmic And Pure
03. I Am The Storm
04. Surviving The Abyss
05. The Serpent Only Lies
06. The Enemy Beside You
07. Embrace The Light
08. On Holy Ground
09. Song Of The Dunes
10. As I Heal

The Review:

Crowbar are 100% reliable. They have never made a bad album. They have never gone commercial, gone thrash, gone death, gone hardcore or deviated in any way from their uniquely satisfying sound.

Generally regarded as sludge, and New Orleans sludge at that, the band have been operating at the highest level of quality for a quarter of a century now. Kirk is still at the helm and now Todd Strange is back on bass (Kirk plays on the album) after a career in something non-metal related. The album, as per, mixes riffs of the heaviest weight (“Falling While Rising”) with faster bursts of hardcore pace (“I am The Storm”). Most people familiar with the band have a favourite Crowbar album (some go with “Odd Fellows Rest”, some the self titled, or “Broken Glass” etc. etc.) but I can reliably inform you that this one could be a contender on anyone's top spot.

The last record, “Symmetry In Black”, was a tour de force: this is just as good. They really haven't put a foot wrong on this release. The doomy and spacey vibe of “Surviving The Abyss” is a welcome shift in dynamics and recalls “When Planets Collide” (and other tracks) from the bands formidable canon.

Operating, as they do, in a field of one brings its own challenges. The band have to find ways of making things interesting; the line up has always been in flux, but whether this is by design or default I don't know. Each album is demonstrably different while maintaining a common thread so no record is out of place within the discography. Stylistically, I would say that this is closer to “Symmetry...” than “Lifesblood”, and perhaps is a little closer to the band's earliest material, but at the end of the day: it's Crowbar. The title track is as vicious and melancholic as their best work, with Windstein's voice still a unique selling point.

The album is another focused and concise release; ten tracks of similar length gives the right playing time for enjoyment and immersibility (running out of actual words, so making them up!) and each track goes by at a fair clip. “The Enemy Beside You” is another hardcore/sludge hybrid which spits some serious bile. Kirk is in his 50's now, but isn't showing any sign of mellowing. Since leaving Down, he seems to have re-focused on Crowbar and brings some huge riffs and vocals to tracks such as “On Holy Ground” down the back stretch of the record. “Song of the Dunes” is even more impressive, with a rather creepy atmosphere added to the mix.

By the time of “As I heal”, the record had absolutely won me over as yet another sterling piece of work from Crowbar. Where this album sits in the band's discography will only be fully revealed over time, but I can say that it has got better and better with each listen. What a band. Appreciate them while they are here.

The Serpent Only Lies” is available now

Band info: facebook

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