Review Summary: One of the heaviest bands from one of music's heaviest scenes.
The New Orleans sludge metal scene of the 1990's is home to some of metal's most consistent music. Acid Bath's morbid, chaotic pair of albums are cult classics. Eyehategod and Soilent Green are still floating around on a solid and successful formula of heavy riffs mixed with a southern blues tone. Even groove/thrashers Exhorder get credit for being the band that Pantera allegedly ripped off. But one band that doesn't quite get the recognition it deserves is Crowbar, one of the most bone-crushingly heavy bands from the region.
Kirk Windstein - Vocals/Guitar
Matt Thomas - Guitar
Tommy Strange - Bass
Jimmy Bower - Drums
Crowbar's 1996 effort, Broken Glass
, has absolutely zero subtlety. For a modest 38 minutes, this album beats, strangles, and pummels you into oblivion. Crowbar have possibly the heaviest guitar tone in existence--every chord feels heavier than the last, and the production puts it right into your ear until you feel like your head is going to explode.
The album's three best tracks come right out of the gate. "Conquering" is one of the album's faster songs, but about halfway through slows to a crawl over a triumphant call of "I choose to die my own way!" "Like Broken Glass" brings an incredibly thick, inhuman riff that drags you into the album's primary atmosphere--a feeling of being dragged through a swamp by a slow-moving beast. It also has a chorus that will stick in your head for days. Broken Glass
' best track is number three, "(Can't) Turn Away From Dying." This track boasts simple but effective lyrics, as well as the album's best vocal moment: Windstein shouts with tremendous anger "I never thought you could sink so low/A slave to the dying."
This actually brings me to the album's biggest flaw. Windstein's vocals come from the pit of his stomach, and they don't have the power of contemporaries like Soilent Green's Ben Falgoust. His vocals fit the music, but they can be very irritating after a while, even on an album this short. They are especially distracting on the pseudo-ballad "Nothing," which is probably the worst song here.
Back to the positive side of things. Although the album's last seven tracks aren't quite as good or memorably as the first three, they all have a solid level of consistency that will stop you from skipping tracks or turning the album off. The only major flaw is a lack of variation. As the guitars don't really play leads very often, the rhythm section is less of an individual unit and more of an expansion of the band's sound. Strange's basslines can be lost in the mix, but when clear they are just as heavy as the guitars. Bower never overplays his drums, but he effectively pounds away in the background.
Overall, there are much more complex and diverse metal albums than Broken Glass
, but few are as capable of satisfying elitist metalheads, tough guys, and those who just want good riffs. If you need more sludge in your life, give this a listen. It will be 40 minutes well-spent.