Crowbar: Sever the Wicked Hand

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Crowbar: Sever the Wicked Hand
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Crowbar: Sever the Wicked Hand
Sludge Metal
eOne Records
February 8th, 2011
Release length: 52:07
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It’s been about six years since Crowbar gave their fans a new recording to sink their teeth into, outside their 2007 DVD Live: With Full Force of course. Considered one of the first, and best, Sludge Metal acts, the band brings us their ninth full-length recording, Sever the Wicked Hand, one of their most anticipated albums since Lifesbleed for the Downtrodden, which also was anxiously awaited by fans due to the drawn out period of wait between releases, that one being roughly four years. For the most part, the band has never really failed the fans, but the six year wait definitely had, as well as has many fans of the band worried if the group spent all that time to work on it, or just phoned the recording in just to have something new out there and make some quick cash. So, was this effort really worth the wait?

It appears that not much has changed since those six years, and Crowbar is still recording heavy, crushing material that gets the listener’s blood boiling with rage, or bring them down with tracks that seem to have a more depressive atmosphere due to the slower nature that feels more somber then harsh. Sever the Wicked Hand doesn’t necessarily offer anything new, but if it isn’t broken, why fix it? Especially when the band is able to sum up what the listener can expect within the first five minutes of entire release, and still manage to throw some curve balls here and there. “Isolation (Desperation)” sets up an album that is going to be an intense Sludge ride of in-your-face crushing heaviness at a rather fast pace that will make you want to destroy everything and anything in your way, with the title track “Sever the Wicked Hand” acting as a harsh mellowing agent, as if telling you not to do anything hasty until the situation is felt out. As the release continues, the music varies between gloomy and depressive material that will only further exaserbate the listener’s emotional bonds to the album when the blood pumping heavier tracks kick in once again.

While a band usually seems to have more energy in the faster material, Crowbar has always shined the same way on their slower songs. Sever the Wicked Hand comes as no exception. Starting with the title track, you’re given a slow decline into a depressive state and atmosphere through the somber, slower pace music that progresses towards a melancholid sound, then hammers into a catchy, more upbeat track that doesn’t necessarily make youw ant to start swinging like “Isolation (Desolation”, sticking inside your mind with an insane infectiousness that blends Hard Rock and Sludge with emotional-sounding rough vocal harmonizations in contrast to the signature shouting approach many tracks have, with the song “The Cemetery Angels”. The only odd thing about it is the slow, crushing breakdown that hits at the end, which ushers back in the depressive atmosphere of the song, and, though the lyrics are a little more dismal then as upbeat as the song is, it feels a little odd to end it in such a manner.

Sever the Wicked Hand seems to be geared more towards having a lot of slower paced material on here, but for the most part it feels around a mid-tempo pace, maybe a little slower. “Liquid Sky and Cold Black Earth” is easily the slowest, most depressing track off the recording, but nothing else even seems to come close. But, once you hit “Protectors of the Shrine”, the music takes on more of a crushing atmosphere that is genuinely mid-tempo music and nothing slower, with exception to “Symbiosis” which closes the album out on that depressing, melancholic tone from earlier, and has a slightly more upbeat feel to it, even though the lyrics are still rather depressing to hear. None of these tracks are bad in any sense, but as the album progresses, some of the material can start to become repetitive, mostly due to the way the vocals are performed. Many of the tracks have a great deal of emotion behind them, and a decent amount of range, but overall they feel a little overused, being shouted in that rhaspy tone in moments that would suffice with a different approach, or just sound a little monotone and not that emotional in segments you really wish that the singer would belt out the lyrics.

Sever the Wicked Hand is a solid recording from start to finish, and basically continues to capture the sound that Crowbar has managed to keep, and keep alive throughout their career. While this isn’t the most extravagant album the band can put out, focusing more on the slower material which tends to become a little repetitive in varying levels, the songs are strong and manage to keep the listener attention either way, especially after the first few spins. Fans of the band will pretty much know what to expect, and newcomers will be ushered into a not-too-surprising world of vintage Sludge Metal by this band’s musical standards of today. Those who were concerned abotu the six year pause between albums have nothing to fear, as Sever the Wicked Hand is a strong album that deserves a place with the rest of this band’s discography.

01. Isolation (Desperation) – 4:14
02. Sever the Wicked Hand – 3:15
03. Liquid Sky and Cold Black Earth – 6:24
04. Let Me Mourn – 4:50
05. The Cemetery Angels – 4:01
06. As I Become One – 4:55
07. A Farewell to Misery – 3:43
08. Protectors of the Shrine – 3:28
09. I Only Deal in Truth – 3:20
10. Echo an Eternity – 5:03
11. Cleanse Me, Heal Me – 3:42
12. Symbiosis – 5:05

Overall Score: 9/10
Crowbar (band)
Crowbar (logo)Digital review copy of this release provided by eOne Music.