After six long, trying years, Kirk Windstein has finally delivered another Crowbar album. Thank Satan. This is one of my favorite bands. As any fan of sludge metal will tell you, Kirk is a riff factory. I don't know how he keeps coming up with these erosive, devastating riffs, but why ask why? Going into Sever the Wicked Hand, I wondered if the extended lay-off would render his hands rusty. I realize that he has been busy in the interim, but Kingdom of Sorrow is not Crowbar. Plus, this is the first batch of songs that Kirk has written sober. Would he tweak the formula too much? Would the new material sound like Hatebreed? Of course not! This record crushes!
I'm going to take a different approach to this review. Since I'm dealing with a dynamic album that begs to be listened to in its entirety, I'm going to break this fucker down and tackle each track individually.
- "Isolation (Desolation)" - We are greeted with lovely guitar harmonies (think "The Lasting Dose" off of Sonic Excess in its Purest Form) that crash into a thick, driving riff. Kirk sounds absolutely pissed the fuck off during the chorus. High adrenaline. Destroy something.
- "Sever the Wicked Hand" - Fast verses are divided by a simplistic drone of a chorus. The song ends on a grinding riff that completes the arrangement. This one doesn't stand out, but it does its job.
- "Liquid Sky and Cold, Black Earth" - Again, not a stand-out, but it works because of Kirk's emotional vocals. He must have swallowed nails before the recording sessions.
- "Let Me Mourn" - Holy shit. It wouldn't surprise me if the main riff registered on a Richter scale. This tune exerts so much seismic energy, that it should be banned in Haiti. Y'know, the lurching drums almost reminds me of vintage Alice in Chains. Something like "Man in the Box" or "It Ain't Like That." Goddamn, this shit has balls.
- "The Cemetery Angels" - The first single. It contains all of the trademarks of a Crowbar song. You've got your sullen melodies, your impassioned lyrics, and your heavy breakdown. The video is lacking, though.
- "As I Become One" - A swing beat! The midsection offers up the first mellow moments of the album. This is what I meant when I said that Sever was dynamic. There are plenty of up's and down's.
- "A Farewell to Misery" - A reserved instrumental. There isn't much to say about it other than that it's a well-placed respite.
- "Protectors of the Shrine" - And the throbbing riffs return! The chorus is catchy in a subtle way. It will take a few spins to fully appreciate it.
- "'I Only Deal in Truth" - Similar to the title track in that it's simplistic, yet it serves its purpose. More guitar harmonies. Yummy.
- "Echo an Eternity" - A love song? If so, it's a damn good one. Don't get the wrong impression; it's mostly bleak and funereal.
- "Cleanse Me, Heal Me" - I'm running out of synonyms for heavy. So yeah, it's heavy.
- "Symbiosis" - This song effortlessly sums up Sever the Wicked Hand. In fact, it may be favorite cut on what is a strong effort from the reigning king of sludge. It doesn't get much better than this.
I flirted with the idea of giving this album a perfect rating, but it's not perfect. You won't bust a nut to every track. You'll come close, though.