Sound: This is the third album by New Orleans Metal Band, Crowbar, and was released in 1995 following the minor success of their second, self-titled album ("Crowbar"). They toured with Pantera following that album and actually managed to release a respectable amount of units, but again, not as much as they deserved.
Only single and video "The Only Factor" gets this album underway in an uncharacteristically fast manner with a pummelling opening riff, a galloping punk hardcore verse, a catchy, repeatable chorus and a slow, heavy outro, Brilliant. "No More Can We Crawl" continues the pattern of time changes but is generally slower than the opening track with more heavy sludgy riffs and aggressive lyrics and vocals, paradise for any sludge metal fan. "Time Heals Nothing" begins with an ominous bass line, before a heavy, haunting twin guitar harmony introduces Kirk's deepest and saddest lyrics on the subject of suicide. The chorus is a vow to never forget about that person and as a result is a very memorable chorus.
"Leave It Behind" is loaded with some of Crowbar's best riffs to date, particularly the thrash-tastic outro riff and the ominous verse which truly sounds like the soundtrack to the Apocalypse. Awesome. 10 out of 10 so far. "Through a Wall Of Tears" returns to the sound of the title track with its slow, doomy almost abstract guitar work. The slowest song on the album and an exercise in controlled anger in musical form, with a great guitar and vocal melody on the chorus. "Lack Of Tolerance" is another thrashy and fast song. The tempo and the heaviness never really eases up until the interlude. A great doomy hardcore treat.
A frantic drumbeat and an eerie twin guitar harmony builds the listener up to be knocked down by a punishing thrashy riff and an intense verse riff that sounds somehow familiar on "A Perpetual Need" before "Numb Sensitive" brings this brutal album to a suitably intense but again controlled end.
The production, is oddly inferior to its predecessor, while not a massive dip, it just seems to lose somewhat of the edge on "Crowbar". Nevertheless the guitars and vocals in particular are very well done indeed, although the drums could perhaps have sounded a bit better. A great album that, while it doesn't quite reach the heights of its predecessor is still a fantastic standalone album and adds a more mellow, I guess you can say classical element to their established, sludge / thrash / hardcore sound. // 9
Lyrics: The lyrics are trademark Crowbar. To the point, direct, brutally honest and most of the time... Just plain brutal. The themes covered are revenge, anger, bitterness, suicide, depression and death and complies fully with the music, perhaps even more so than the first two Crowbar albums, as there is a bit more variety in its delivery and how it's accompanied by the guitars.
Kirk laments the loss of a friend to suicide on the title track:
"You took your life; you made it all so hard.
Never can I forget you're gone."
This is somewhat of a departure in vocal style as it perhaps Kirk's 'cleanest' vocal performance so far. Although the hardcore vocals are still there in abundance, Kirk allows his vocals the chance to stand on their own on some songs ("Time Heals Nothing", "Through a Wall Of Tears" and "Embracing Emptiness" in particular) instead of being a bit hidden by guitars and is perhaps a sign of things to come from their albums at the end of and turn of the century.
This is definitely a step forward for Kirk in my opinion and you can just hear the confidence start to ooze out on some of these songs. A great and varied vocal performance and a definite step forward. // 9
Overall Impression: Probably what I love most about this brilliant album that continues Crowbar's run of form is that it picks off right where "Crowbar" left off and doesn't look back. It expands on the brilliant sound they more or less perfected on the previous album and adds a bit more variety, in particular on the vocal and melody aspect. The best songs on the album are "The Only Factor", "Time Heals Nothing", "a Perpetual Need", and "Leave It Behind". If you like your metal mellow, you should definitely check out the title track and "Through a Wall Of Tears", for more traditional Crowbar riff master classes any other song will do.
This is Crowbar's most accessible album at this point in time and most varied, but will not disappoint any hardcore metal fan at all. The band manage the difficult task of staying true to themselves, their sound and their fans but also expanding on their musical template and pushing themselves further than they have before without compromising. With the metal world seemingly disillusioned (the Big Four plugging out divisive and varied quality albums and Nu Metal's emergence) and the effect of Grunge still lingering this is a straight up middle finger from Crowbar to anyone who thought that they were going to follow the herd and stuck true to their metal roots.
The only negative is that the production isn't the best, in particular the drum tracks, but it is only minor and the sheer quality of the songs shines through regardless. If it were lost or stolen I would definitely buy another copy, as this is premium slice of the Crowbar pie and should be in every metal fans collection, Crowbar at their finest... again! // 9