MUSIC REVIEW: Crowbar, “The Serpent Only Lies”

In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Kirk Windstein stated that he wanted Crowbar to be the 2016 version of Black Sabbath or Led Zeppelin. While this may seem blasphemous to anyone unfamiliar with the New Orleans sludge metal band, the comparison is apt, even if you ignore the Led Zeppelin “No Quarter” cover off Crowbar’s 1993 self-titled album.

Kirk Windstein (guitarist, songwriter, vocalist) is called the “Riff Lord” for good reason. He has written literally hundreds of killer riffs, and songs for them. Any fan of Crowbar would likely agree: there are no bad Crowbar songs, there are only ones that are better or that are favored more by the fans.

With their new album, Crowbar is still as powerful as ever, especially with the return of Todd Strange on bass. The Serpent Only Lies sounds like a continuation of their previous album Symmetry In Black, and it has many similarities to the albums Lifesblood For The Downtrodden and Sonic Excess In Its Purest Form (which are my 2 favorites), with its Sabbath-like slow dirges and cold, unrelenting grooves. As I Heal is a mid-tempo monstrosity with some musical and lyrical similarities to New Dawn from LFTD, and To Build A Mountain from SEIIPF. Plasmic And Pure opens with a pounding Tommy Buckley drumbeat, which breaks off into a jackhammer riff and an angular chorus, and the opening is reminiscent of the song Walk With Knowledge Wisely from Symmetry In Black. I Am The Storm and The Enemy Beside You brings to mind the almighty Motorhead with their grooves and power. On Holy Ground opens with some catchy lead guitar playing, and sounds like vintage Alice In Chains on steroids.

In the aforementioned Rolling Stone interview, Windstein mentioned how metal bands used to write great hooks and choruses. This is another thing that differentiates Crowbar from most metal bands: they are able to bring melody from dissonance, catchiness from chaos, and light from shade. They can certainly write some killer choruses, and aren’t afraid to break up the bludgeoning riffs and to dial down the distortion in order to make their songs more melodic.

Which is kind of like what Jimmy Page from Led Zeppelin used to do. The Serpent Only Lies is yet another Crowbar masterpiece, and is highly recommended to any metal fans out there.

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