Review Summary: With a new drummer and a few surprises to explore within an otherwise heavy and doomy album, Crowbar's sixth effort proves to be worthwhile and another solid effort to add to their collection.
According to the English dictionary, an ‘equilibrium’ is known to be a mental or emotional balance, or an equality of effect. Given the brooding and depressive nature of Crowbar’s lyrical imagery and music then, it shouldn’t be any surprise that the band’s sixth album is entitled “Equilibrium”. Looking at the album cover itself, it’s slightly unsettling to see that the only band member whose face looks blurred and strangely distorted is Kirk Windstein’s, a vocalist who has always sounded like he’s going through a torturous, demented trip through his own mind. With one listen to the sound of this album however, you won't be surprised.
Anyone who’s listened to Crowbar will understand that the style has remained the same throughout their two-decade long career, yet with a new drummer in Sid Montz, the sound seems to be slightly more accessible and powerful than on any of the band’s preceding albums. From the first monumentally heavy seconds of opener ‘I feel the burning sun’, you can tell that the band made a right choice in choosing Montz as their new drummer. This isn’t to say that Jimmy Bower didn’t do a good job on his respective instrument, because he certainly did, but Montz’s performance seems to be slightly more interesting and prominent in the sound. Montz becomes particularly useful when introducing the spiralling heaviness of 'Down into the rotting earth' or performing a brief but brilliant solo on 'Uncovering', yet if you focus on his performance throughout the album, you'll know that the band made the right choice in using him for this album.
As with every other Crowbar album, the music is generally very slow, very heavy and extremely, well, "sludgy". However, just because songs such as the enigmatic title track, the brooding ‘Glass full of liquid pain’ and the menacing ‘Uncovering’ generally follow the same musical formula that has made Crowbar such a successful band doesn’t mean that there aren’t a few songs to deviate from the norm. The guitar style on ‘Command of myself’ brings to mind Zakk Wylde and although it is still slow and heavy, Kirk Windstein still manages to do the odd twist here and there with his prime instrument. This shouldn’t be surprising, as it is well known amongst Crowbar fans that the band has had frequent collaborations with Black Label society and Down. The two songs that really stand out from everything else however are also the ones that prove to be instant highlights of the album. One is the sorrowful, piano-laden ‘To touch the hand of God’, which although quiet in comparison to the album’s heavier songs, is written superbly well and doesn’t take too long to move even the most heartless of listeners. The other song is the questionable Gary Wright cover of ‘Dream weaver’, which may shock those who are used to Crowbar’s sound. Listening to the original song, it would be difficult to imagine Crowbar covering Gary Wright regardless of whichever song they choose, but they make it work, spanning the length to a total of no less than eight minutes and fifty-one seconds of slow-burning heaviness, which as it progresses becomes magnificently hypnotic if listened to without any distractions.
Although there is filler material to be found in the unnecessary ‘Euphoria minus one’ and the ridiculous ‘Outro’ (which is basically a vocal cover of “In a gadda la vida” by Iron Butterfly), “Equilibrium” proves that Crowbar once again had produced a solid effort to stand bravely alongside their best releases. Listening to this album may not change your mind of the band, but everyone should at least give ‘To touch the hand of god’ or the Gary Wright cover ‘Dream weaver’ a chance, since they are two examples of Crowbar stepping out of their comfort zone and succeeding.