Review Summary: New label, same sound. Whether you like Crowbar or not, "Odd fellows rest" won't change your mind of the band.
When listening to a band like Crowbar, there’s only one thing you need to know: They’ll never change their style, especially if it works for them. The same applies to Motörhead, AC/DC, Slayer and other bands that haven’t changed their sound since they first arrived on the music scene however many years ago. Whilst you’ll probably be thinking that this is an unnecessary point to make, the point still stands that whatever album you listen to buy Crowbar, it will never change your perception of the band.
Up until the release of the band’s fifth album, “Odd fellows rest” in 1998, Crowbar had endured quite a lot of attention from both the metal world and the press, perhaps due to Kirk Windstein’s ever-improving friendship with Philip Anselmo and the fact that whether you like them or not, they were a band who offered some solid live performances. The only thing that was different on this album in comparison to the band’s previous four was the record label, which previously had been Pavement Music but was now Mayhem.
If you love your music slow, brooding and as mind-crushingly heavy as a ton of bricks, you should have no problem getting on with Crowbar, let alone “Odd fellows rest”. It’s music that was purposefully created to give people a headache and exhaust them before battering their poor eardrums into oblivion. Most of the songs on this particular album emphasize the slow pace and heavy sound which is expected, ‘Planets collide’, ‘…And suffer as one’ and ‘December’s spawn’ amongst others being pure examples. Guitars, bass and drums work as one to form a sound that is instantly recognizable with any Crowbar record, but apart from the odd solo in ‘New man born’ and the Iron Maiden cover ‘Remember tomorrow’, they don’t do anything other than their sole purpose. Admittedly there are a few songs such as the laid-back title track and the rapid ‘Scattered pieces lay’ that deviate from the norm, the former having excellently sung vocals and the latter being much faster than anything else on the record, but from the opening heaviness of the ‘Intro’, it’s clear what Crowbar had set out to do on “Odd fellows rest”.
If you grow weary and tiresome of the slow and heavy formula found on this album, you may be tempted to take note of Windstein’s brooding, melancholic vocals and the equally as depressing lyrical content. Naturally the lyrics and vocals are there to support whatever moods and emotions are created by the instrumentation, but Windstein sounds like he’s going through his own personal hell with each and every song. He mostly roars and croons his way through, dragging the listener down to his level all the while. On the beautifully (!) titled ‘…And suffer as one’ Windstein invites you to “hear my words now, suffer with me, drown in despair, set yourself free”, and in an even more miserable way points the finger when saying on ‘December’s spawn’ that “you're December's spawn, agony you hold within you, since the dawn of time, you're compelled to do what you do”. At times, as on the sorrowful and deep title track, Windstein does go clean and soulful, which not only creates tension within the music but also gives the listener a break from all the doomy heaviness that happened beforehand.
With the exception of the slightly more mediocre ‘New man born’ and the unnecessary ‘Intro’ (which is basically the same as the outro on ‘On frozen ground’), “Odd fellows rest” proves to be a consistent and solid collection of songs from a band that have always been doing the same thing since their beginning in 1991. As said before, you won’t be tempted to change your opinion, and if you don’t like music that is slow, brooding and, well, ‘sludgy’, then this certainly isn’t recommended to you. For those that do like Crowbar’s style and haven’t listened to this album before, you know what to do.