Still relevant and very good at what they do

Crowbar have come back swinging out the gates with album number eleven, all set to prove they are still relevant and very good at what they do.

Vocalist and heart of the band Kirk Windstein mentioned in interviews in the lead up to the release that he has gone back to their earlier material to reacquaint himself with why he enjoys playing his style of music, and I think the re-introduction of original bassist Todd ‘Sexy T’ Strange may have helped with the direction the band has gone in this time around.

The production of the album is perfect, so that you can hear everything breathe right down to scratching on the strings in places, and the drum sound is magnificent. Kirk is marvellously on voice throughout, and his vocals sit brilliantly and clear on top. You can really hear it from the outset, as the album comes in slowly with a great Sabbath-style riff, and then takes off into some bastardised hardcore territory.

The next two songs are very much in the same vein, a good mix of classic hardcore/sludge/doom, with great openings by drummer Tommy Buckley, particularly on ‘I Am The Storm’, a short punchy track that comes in under the three minute mark. Then, the first of the slower, doomier tracks ‘Surviving the Abyss’, while still a great song, takes the wind out of the sails a little.

Not to fear, the title track rests in the middle of the album, and what a great one it is. Beginning as another stormer of a track, it pulls up into a melodic breakdown, with clean vocals, something the band of old would have never tried. Then jsut as you settle into the beauty, it gets all ugly again. Brilliant. Backing this up is the awesome ‘The Enemy Beside You’. A solid 1-2 punch to keep you interested in the usually dull mid album stretch. Then sadly for me, the album gets really slow and doomy on the next few tracks. While I appreciate how great these guys do this style, after such a barnstorming opening to the album, I find myself getting bored until the final song snaps me back to attention: ‘As I Heal’ rounds the album out just as excellently as it started.

1. Falling While Rising
2. Plasmic and Pure
3. I Am the Storm
4. Surviving the Abyss
5. The Serpent Only Lies
6. The Enemy Beside You
7. Embrace the Light
8. On Holy Ground
9. Song of the Dunes
10. As I Heal