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Crowbar – Sever the Wicked Hand

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Staying power might be one of the best accolades you can bestow upon a metal band; maintaining relevance with shifting trends and scrupulous fans has never been easy. Crowbar have managed not only to stick around for 20-plus years, but also put out stellar slabs of sludge on a regular basis. On Sever the Wicked Hand (E1, 2011), Kirk Windstein & co. never stray from the formula that has served them well: Black Sabbath, Black Flag, and black tar heroin.

That’s not to say there’s nothing new happening. There are noticeably more guitar dynamics, with newest member Matt Brunson bringing some harmony to Windstein’s signature dirges. The production is crisper than on previous efforts, but the songs lose none of their grit. This is still Crowbar, and they aren’t beholden to sacrificing sincerity for clarity. Sever the Wicked Hand sounds like it came from the swamps of New Orleans, and rightly so.

One of sludge metal’s basic tenets is that it’s regular guys (or gals) dealing with the hardships of everyday existence. Kirk Windstein is one of the most honest and direct lyricists I’ve ever heard, not only in this genre but in music overall. He details the struggle of newfound sobriety on “Cleanse Me, Help Me”: “And lead me thru the dark times – I’m weak I know / Leave me with a clear mind – don’t let me go / I answer to my own lies – my weakness shows”. This isn’t some washed-up hag on Celebrity Rehab; it’s the real deal. Even when speaking about a loved one in “Echo an Eternity”, Windstein avoids melodramatic clichés and cuts to the core: “In times of need you set me free / Through miles away you’re there for me/ So wonderful so wise beyond your years”.

They might not have the notoriety of Eyehategod or presence of Down (despite Kirk being a member), but Crowbar have once again proven themselves to be masters of their craft.

— Chris Rowella

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– Full album stream –

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Amazon (MP3)
Amazon (CD)
Relapse (CD)
CM Distro (CD, 2LP)

Crowbar official merch store

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w/ Helmet, Saint Vitus, and more

Mar. 17 – Dallas, TX – Southside Music Hall
Mar. 18 – Austin, TX – Dirty Dog / SXSW
Mar. 19 – New Orleans, LA – One Eyed Jacks
Mar. 20 – St Petersburg, FL – State Theater
Mar. 21 – Orlando, FL – Firestone Live
Mar. 22 – Greensboro, NC – Greene Street
Mar. 23 – Springfield, VA – Jaxx
Mar. 24 – Worcester, MA – Palladium
Mar. 25 – New York, NY – Irving Plaza
Mar. 26 – Cleveland, OH – Peabody’s
Mar. 27 – Joliet, IL – Mojoe’s
Mar. 28 – Merriam (Kansas City), KS – Aftershock (No Helmet)
Mar. 29 – Denver, CO – The Summit
Mar. 31 – Portland, OR – Roseland Theater
Apr. 01 – Seattle, WA – El Corazon
Apr. 02 – Sparks, NV – The Alley
Apr. 03 – San Francisco, CA – Mezzanine
Apr. 04 – San Diego, CA – Brick by Brick
Apr. 05 – Hollywood, CA – House Of Blues

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