01. Isolation (Desperation) 02. Sever the Wicked Hand 03. Liquid Sky and Cold Black Earth 04. Let Me Mourn 05. The Cemetery Angels 06. As I Become One 07. A Farewell To Misery 08. Protector of the Shrine 09. I Only Deal In Truth 10. Echo an Eternity 11. Cleanse Me, Heal Me 12. Symbiosis2011 MNRK Music Group
Kirk Windstein has been busy. Since 2005's Lifesblood for the Downtrodden, the guitarist/vocalist put out a third Down record, and two Kingdom of Sorrow albums all the while touring consistently. Add to that the long history of Crowbar and one might assume he'd be burnt out of new musical ideas. But no, Sever the Wicked Hand is 100% Crowbar, with the mid-90's downtuned HC/metal sound by way of the bayou that fans know and love. What is there to say, except that this is Crowbar through and through. From the opening guitar harmonies and that first colossal riff, it is clear that Kirk and Co. are back with a vengeance. "Isolation(Desperation)" kicks off with a big, chunky chorus and Kirk's vocals, while still a tuneful scream, pierce more than ever. His newfound sobriety has apparently treated him well. The songs and his voice sound refreshed. The title track, "Sever the Wicked Hand," picks up the pace and shows off Kirk's left hand dexterity with fast pull-off notes. The thick guitar tone layers everything with thick slabs of distortion. It all slows to a crawl on "Liquid Sky and Cold Black Earth." The guitar harmonies return, and while they do remind one of Down, Crowbar came first. "Let Me Mourn" showcases a melodic lament at the altar. The pained cries would be all the more convincing, but some of the lyrics miss the mark. Obvious lines such as, "He chose the dark path, which leads to nothing good" detract from the heartfelt music. Hardcore influences are apparent on "The Cemetery Angels," complete with a breakdown chorus. "As I Become One" is the perfect Crowbar jam. Beginning with a loose, almost-swing style verse, the heavy hitter mutates into a slow clean section complete with a stray guitar solo and raw vocals that gurgle. "Protector of the Shrine" is just plain metal with an abundance of double kicks and that down-home strut the NOLA sound is known for. It's so 1995. And it's killer. Crowbar proves, that while it harkens back to an era and locale of yesteryear, this music ultimately surpasses time and place. There isn't a "bad" song on Sever the Wicked Hand, but it gets a little tedious towards the end. Ten songs might have been a perfect 10, but twelve tracks goes a little overboard. They are quality jams, full of the aforementioned attributes, but the later tracks seem a little more self-serving for Kirk to exorcise his demons, and profess his love and human weaknesses. Sobriety has made him a touch sappier. However, it does not change the fact that Crowbar still hits harder than a ball peen hammer. Bottom Line: This is one of Crowbar's best records. Everyone has their favorite, most often it's the self-titled album, Time Heals Nothing or Odd Fellows Rest, but Sever the Wicked Hand holds its own alongside the bludgeoning back catalog.
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