Crowbar – Zero and Below (Album Review)

Crowbar – Zero and Below
Released: March 4, 2022

Line Up:

Kirk Windstein // Vocals, Rhythm Guitar
Tommy Buckley // Drums
Matt Brunson // Lead Guitar
Shane Wesley // Bass

Online:

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Twitter
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Official Website

Crowbar are a heavy act in multiple definitions of the word. For over 30 years the New Orleanians have been punching out enormous riffs, crawling tempos and emotionally wrought vocals. The heart and soul of Crowbar, as well as its only consistent member, is frontman and guitarist Kirk Windstein. When he’s not busy laying down riffs for NOLA supergroup Down and co-fronting Kingdom of Sorrow with Hatebreed’s Jamey Jasta, Crowbar has always been his main squeeze. Having patiently waited for the appropriate time to release this album – the final mix was completed back in 2020 – the four-piece’s 12th full length Zero and Below has been a long time coming for both band and fans alike.

The fantastic first single ‘Chemical Godz’ is almost uptempo, at least by Crowbar standards, with its southern-tinged, bouncing main riff. The BPM drops down for the chorus passage, and the fantastic melodic bridge section, with building layers of guitar work, adds even more excellence to the track. Windstein’s mournful vocals have lost none of their power and emotion over the years, as too his lyrical output – struggle and hardships have always been the main source of inspiration, with his raspy, weathered voice the perfect vessel for these raw subjects.

It’s Always Worth The Gain’ and LP opener ‘The Fear That Binds You’ is everything you’d want from Crowbar, and further proof that they’ve always been something of an underappreciated group in the metal scene. Big and powerful tracks, they’re heavy without ever veering into the extreme, and melodic and memorable enough to grab the ear of the more casual metal listener. Longtime drummer Tommy Buckley is undoubtedly the rhythmic spine of Zero and Below. He never detracts from the songs with overly complex playing, rather putting his energy into sitting deep in the pocket for the Crowbar’s signature slow pace and grooves.

Denial of Truth’ is a moody, doom metal track, showcasing Windstein’s underrated clean singing over a slower than molasses tempo. Its crushing pace and feel perfectly anchors down the middle of the LP. The album’s title tune rounds off the release, adding a new element of dynamics with the usage of acoustic guitars. It’s a suitably slow-burning way to close Zero and Below, with the second half of the song built around a harmonised lead guitar section that has one foot in the morose and one in triumph.

If you’re a fan of Crowbar there’s no way you’ll be disappointed with Zero and Below. It doesn’t feature any drastic change to their sound, rather seeing the band doubling down on their signature elements, with subtle dynamic shifts sprinkled in for flavour. Simply put, this is what Crowbar sounds like and what their fanbase wants – low and slow sludge metal. Maybe not quite as earth-shatteringly brilliant as their classic releases Odd Fellows Rest and Broken Glass, but a more than worthy addition to their immense back catalogue. 

Crowbar – Zero and Below tracklisting:

1. The Fear That Binds You
2. Her Evil Is Sacred
3. Confess To Nothing
4. Chemical Godz
5. Denial Of The Truth
6. Bleeding From Every Hole
7. It’s Always Worth The Gain
8. Crush Negativity
9. Reanimating A Lie
10. Zero And Below 

Rating: 8/10
Zero and Below is out Friday on MNRK Heavy. Pre-order here
Review By – Andrew Kapper. Twitter: @andrew_kapper

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