Sound — 8
This is the first album by New Orlean based Doom/Sludge Metal band Crowbar. 01. "Waiting In Silence" is a brilliant opening track and sets the tone for the rest of the album, mid to slow-paced, with a fast, almost thrash like interlude/mid section before slowing right back down. 02. "I Despise" slowly follows and doesn't really get out of third gear until the outro... But in a good way! 03. "Breed Apart" is another slow to mid-paced tale of bitterness and anger with some great riffs and harmony guitars before speeding up with a hardcore /punk section to close the song. 04. The title track is very slow and bass heavy with a great, haunting almost mournful vocal line / melody, thinks about speeding up and slows right back down to a crushing, hammering slow riff. 05. "Vacuum" opens with what might possibly one the best riffs on the album and is notably quicker than most of the others as it hits the ground running before reverting back to another slow riff section, and then another great slow riff, and another. 06. "4 Walls" is an instrumental for the best part of the opening 2 minutes of the track with some good riffs and a clever, slow chorus before breaking out to a very fast section. 07. Only single / video "Subversion" is a fantastic mixed tempo song and perhaps my favourite track on the album, with a great verse riff and accompanying vocal line and some brilliant heavy riffs. 08. "Feeding Fear" follows and continues in this vein, but doesn't really stand out in my opinion and is the weakest track on the album as it just seems to lack direction, not a bad song at all, just not very memorable for whatever reason. 09. "My Agony" has some great riffs and a memorable verse and piles on more sludgy riffs. 10. Before album closer "The Innocent" ends on a high with a swinging heavy riff and harsh, raspy hardcore vocals. This album was released in 1991 with Kirk Windstein on guitar/vocals, Todd Strange on bass, Kevin Noonan on guitar and Craig Nunenmacher on drums. Although they were originally formed by Kirk Windstein and Jimmy Bower as Shellshock in 1988 but disbanded following then guitarist Mike Hatch committed suicide. They then changed their name to Aftershock, recruiting Kevin Noonan as guitarist, changed their name again to Wrequiem recruiting Todd Strange in the process. By 1990 they had changed their name AGAIN to The Slugs, collapsed, reformed as Crowbar and finally settled on this line-up... Briefly. Jamey Jesta of Hatebreed claimed that while he was touring in his early days that he hand his band mates had listened so much of this album that the cassette they had of the album almost been worn out! The sound of the band as I mentioned in the review of their self-titled, sophomore album "Crowbar" is a mix of Melvins, Carnivore, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden and hardcore, but again laced with a strong sense of melody, a heavy melody. The production is good, not the best and the vocals aren't as well recorded as they are on their follow up albums but Kirk does a good job and the guitars and drums are (while muddy) cut through the mix well. Perhaps surprisingly, production-wise, is just how obvious the bass is. Most metal albums now and then (think "...And Justice For All", Metallica) hardly had any audible bass at all, and is quite an achievement for this album seeing how the guitars are low enough as it is.
Lyrics — 8
The lyrics are very suitable to the music. Haunting, angry and cut from the darkest spectrum of human emotion. The main themes are death, depression, anger, disappointment, hate and are very bleak at times but very apt and suitable to the great music behind it. Kirk is a very good hardcore vocalist with a very unique voice that can get surprisingly high-pitched at times and has a great sense of melody. I believe his voice is still being developed at this stage and isn't as polished as it is on the following, but still a fantastic debut performance and if you don't compare it to other albums he does a fine job indeed.
Overall Impression — 8
The album has stood the test of time well, and while it is far cry from the sheer brilliance of latter Crowbar albums, it holds its ground and definitely has a place in any metal fans' collection in particular those who follow this great band. I can't really compare it to other artists as I can't really think of anyone else that had the same approach to songwriting as Crowbar did, apart from that they sound like the musical descendants of Black Sabbath and early Melvins and compare well to these bands. The best songs in the album are "Waiting In Silence", "I Despise", the title track, "Vacuum" and "Subversion" which are all brilliant songs, but the quality of the songs takes a bit of a dip from there on two tracks. Not terrible, just not as great as what preceded them. I love the rawness and the heaviness of this album and the fact that it was so different to everything else that was being done around at the time and is the sound of a band doing what they love and enjoy while not giving a damn about what other bands were doing and not even having the words "compromise" and "success" in their vocabulary, and certainly not in their songs and ideals. There isn't much not to like if you're a metal head really. This production isn't the best, the vocals don't cut through the mix at times and one or two songs aren't up to the standard of those around them but still, not much wrong here. If it were lost/stolen I would definitely buy another copy as I am a massive Crowbar fan and am somewhat of a collector. If was getting into the band I would buy "Crowbar", "Time Heals Nothing", "Broken Glass", "Sonic Excess In Its Purest Form", or "Severe The Wicked Hand" first before buying this as they are all superior Crowbar albums. A great debut from a fantastic band. Whilst it is not their best, it is still a great quality album that served as a very promising blueprint for what was to follow and a very enjoyable album to listen to even now.