Crowbar: Odd fellow's rest
25/03/08 || The Duff
I think Crowbar to be one of the best bands on the planet, next to Death, Suffocation, Isis blablabla, we all have favorites, fuck you. Crowbar are a commonly known as a doom band from New Orleans, and due to their gritty attitude, mix of punk and sludge, awesome vocals and a frightening ability to churn out quality riff after quality riff, deserve your time if you’re into anything doom-inspired, as these guys are leaders of the sub-genre without a doubt. Fuck early Katatonia, Anathema and My Dying Bride – this is real fucken Sabbath doom, folks; none of this “Ooooooooooouin! My woman drowned in a lake ‘cos I was too much of a pussy to lose my high-healed leathers and swim in after her!”. More like “I’m drinking, doing pills, drowning in a sea of sorrow – all’s I got’s-my geetar and this big stack that sez “Ma-re-cha-le, J-C-M 800, 100W Va-lv-e Amp-lif-eeeeeeeeuuurgh… let’s see what’s I got.”. Do ya get me? Up top… Crowbar have released three classic albums, to my knowledge: the self-titled, “Broken Glass” and “Odd Fellows Rest”. As much as I may admire the former two, the latter is out of this fucken World, fucken penis between two oiled up double-D’s, the fucken peanut butter and jello being licked off yer scrotum by your pet alsation. Ya get me? Up top, fuck yeah!
10. Most bands mature and master their arrangements over time, and Crowbar are no exception. The Crowbar formula is punk, Sabbath, a lot of groove, a lot of heavy, and some very thick guitar and bass tones. Overall, I would accredit the superiority of “Odd Fellow’s Rest” over preceding classic albums to the awesome production job (the twin leads on this album sound coated in sweetness, but not in a sickly manner), as “Broken Glass” and “Crowbar” both have some astounding riffs to their name that hold their own against many on this album, but deep down, there’s also something about this release that makes it stand out as one of the best metal albums to have ever been released, pure and simple, because of how everything has been written – the songwriting is of such a maturity that it has lifted Crowbar to their peak as one of metal’s elite bands, which I didn’t feel was the case with other efforts released prior to this.
8. Very thick; when the guitar harmonies kick in, the production is what makes this the definitive Crowbar album. Overall, the riffs aren’t any more potent than on other classics “Broken Glass” and “Crowbar”, but the production on “Odd Fellow’s Rest” drowns the listener in a whirlpool of sludgy, viscous mayhem that can best be described as that foreboding “wall of sound” most are familiar with when discussing grind or Strapping Young Lad – to think the same has been achieved using music of such a lethargic nature is remarkable.
10. This album is all about the crushing groove (or “the gravity”, as Crowbar would say). Whenever James Hetfield opens up “St. Anger” with “Riff!” just before launching into one of the shittiest songs ever accredited the title of “metal”, I always feel like sitting him in front of this album and saying – “No, James! Bad! Here – riffs! And plenty of ‘em!”. Downtuned is the name of the game on “Odd Fellows Rest”, and although some may say that you can make farts sound incredible when tuned down low enough (I dunno how you tune farts), Crowbar really add a whole new dimension to the concept of tuning yer guitars way down low and just thrashing it out (they must have some kinda gauge 23’s for their six-stringers, ‘cos in no way do these guys pussy out and buy themselves an eight-string). They are masters of the art, without a doubt, drenching their material with some of the best, heaviest Sabbath-inspired riffs and dropping it down about eight hundred million steps without losing anything in the process.
8. Kirk has oft been described as monotonous, which is without a doubt the best description of the guy’s vocal abilities. That being said, he is also one of the most expressionate vocalists I have heard – for a guy who can sing within a range that essentially consists of one note (yes, I’m exaggerating), every word is delivered with a pain and anguish that can only arise from a man who has lived through some serious fucken hardships.
9. This ain’t technical death metal folks, so you can actually hear the bass. Good thing too, as this music needs to be played loud so as to make the couple of cells left in yer head rattle around in hopeless despair at the thought of their fate in the hands of such a blunt, crushing force. Crowbar have gone through a fair few bass players since their beginnings, all of them very big fellas. I’m guessing you need fingers the size of boudin sausages just to play the guitars in this band, so being a heavyweight bass-player in Crowbar is probably a necessity.
8. The drums on this album get an eight simply because it’s all real simple stuff; and yet if the guy speeded up at all, it would detract a whole lot from the music – so in a sense, I’m deducting points for his not playing stuff that shouldn’t be played anyhow. Slow, plodding stuff that makes the riffs kick out with even more girth. As much as I may admire his skills in some regards, overall, this isn’t the toughest drumming style to grasp – you’ve got a little fast and punky, you got slow-paced and cumbersome, and then you got the breaks in between, separating both speeds; flirt some with a little cymbal work and a tsss, tsss here n’ there, and you got the recipe for Crowbar drumming.
9. Usually, Crowbar lyrics avoid being upbeat, but at the same time things generally remain very positive; yes, there is a great deal of sadness and despair expressed, but at the same time Kirk sings about breaking out to the other side as a better, stronger man, which is all anyone can ask for when faced with some of the shit this guy seems to have faced. Then there are the times where Kirk is blatantly just telling someone he dislikes to fuck off and die; such moments are fun too, and offer opportunities to sit back, reflect, and think “Yes, I too would wish that upon someone I am personally acquainted with. Here’s to you, Kirk Windstein!”.
5. Not one of Crowbar’s best album covers – the fella up top looks to be receiving the worse of it, which is strange considering it’s a fat man’s orgy.
4. Simple stuff, very NOLA, I guess..
5. Nothing fancy; a couple of pics of the band with handwritten lyrics, much in the NOLA fashion, if Down albums are anything to go by – they thank a whole lot of drugs and Sabbath, so no surprises.
Overall and ending rant:
10. This is just one of those albums – one where the band has been releasing outstanding record after outstanding record, and you think that they got to disappoint sooner or later, but they just end up releasing one of the sub-genre’s defining albums and obliterating all and everything. Heavy as fuck, or heavier than four pairs of double-D’s, there are no words to do this album justice; death metal can take a good, hard long look in the mirror, for all I fucken care, and cry, and cry, and cry. Downtuned has never sounded this clear and this good, as usually it’s all too painstakingly obvious that the music wouldn’t stand well were the guitars not played at such low frequencies – Crowbar by this point in their career had become truly seasoned veterans of the art, and every single beat, riff, all the tones and the vocals on this album combine to work to fullest effect, resulting in absolute perfection.