Orange yellow swirl colored vinyl. Includes a download code. Produced by Phil Anselmo.
- High Rate Extinction
- All I Had (I Gave)
- Will That Never Dies
- No Quarter
- Negative Pollution
- Existence is Punishment
- Holding Nothing
- I Have Failed
Release Date: October 30, 2015
With their self titled sophomore, Crowbar refine the sound they created on their debut. On Obedience Thru Suffering, Crowbar mixed doom and hardcore, being one of the first bands to do so. Inarguably one of the pioneers of sludge, this release shows Crowbar improving upon their sound in just about every way imaginable. It isn't at all a divergence from the template they previously laid out, just a more calculated version of it. The vocals are improved, the songwriting more focused, everyone's better at their instruments and the production is more developed, while still retaining it's dirty feel. Although certainly not Crowbar's crowning achievement, this is where they fully start sounding like themselves.
When I say this is where they fully started sounding like themselves, I don't mean that the debut didn't sound like the Crowbar we know, it's just the first album was an undeveloped idea of what they would become. While very good for the raw fount of unbridled aggression and misery that it was, the template they laid out was not yet fully realized. While they would later expand and experiment upon it, this is the core of what Crowbar is about. Whisky tinged bellowed vocals, fantastic riffing that often blurs the lines between doom and hardcore, great to the point drumming and dirty bass lines - the foundation is all here and executed to a high degree.
While on the debut, Kirk's vocals where at their rawest and most unrestrained, here his singing shows development beyond bursts of anger. They feel full, powerful and perfectly convey the negative emotions he is trying to get out. While roaring out "This world's hard, it's cold, it's agony" on "Existence Is Punishment", it is readily apparent that he stands fully behind what is coming out of his mouth. Though there are some hardcore inspired bursts, the guitar is generally played at a slower pace. The riffs are consistently of quality and filthy breakdowns are plentiful. When the bass gets it's time in the spotlight, such as in the beginning of "Fixation", it's dirty tone shines through. The drumming as well, is much tighter than on the first offering.
The songs are consistently good, but some such as "High Rate Extinction", "All I Had (I Gave)", "Existence Is Punishment" and "I Have Failed" tend to stand out as particularly well crafted songs. Their cover of Led Zeppelin's "No Quarter" is especially intriguing. It by no means surpasses the original, but I really don't think anyone expected it to. And besides, how the hell is a band supposed to go about outshining a classic band on their own song when it's quality is of such colossal magnitude? The original No Quarter is an absolute classic, in both it's songwriting and it's otherworldly psychedelic instrumentation. Crowbar do not attempt to replicate it, opting to make the song their own. They omit any traces of psychedelia, stripping it down to a more basic (and obviously heavier) form. They are highly successful at this - it stands as one of the high points of the album.
With their second coming, Crowbar distill their sound into what would become the essence of their sound. This shows improvement on all fronts and remains a thoroughly worthwhile listen. Kirk writes for the downtrodden and the hard living. He writes of the times when life gets the better of you and you feel like you are at the bottom of the barrel. This release is drenched in hardship. If metal ever had an answer to the working class blues, this would be it. This captures much of the themes prevalent in sludge, as well as providing the perfect example of what sludge sounds like in it's purest form. - dystopia4