Veteran metal act Crowbar officially returned this week with its latest album, more than five years after the release of its then latest album, The Serpent Only Lies. The band released its new album, Zero And Below Friday through MNRK, formerly eOne. The 10-song record is a powerful new offering from the band musically and lyrically speaking. Both items will be examined here. When they are considered along with the album’s production, which will also be examined here, the collective makes the album in whole another impressive new addition to this year’s field of new hard rock and metal albums.
Zero and Below, the 12th album from stalwart metal band Crowbar, is a strong new offering from the group. The album impresses will impress the band’s established audiences just as much as it will more casual fans of the band’s familiar sludge metal sounds. Speaking of those sounds, they (and the album’s overall arrangements) are just part of what makes the album appealing to the noted audiences. From beginning to end, the album’s arrangements continue to present the band’s familiar heavy, thick, sludge metal sounds, which are topped off by front man Kirk Windstein’s familiar groaning screams. Few if any metal vocalists out there past or present sound like him, which makes the arrangements all the more engaging and entertaining. Right from the album’s outset the heaviness hits listeners like a ton of bricks in ‘The Fear That Binds You.’ What’s so interesting in this song is that to an extent, listeners can argue that there is a touch of comparison to works from Hatebreed tied into the mix. It makes for an interesting new composition from the band. As the album progresses, the band’s trademark heaviness blends with a touch of blues-based metal in ‘Chemical GODZ’ There is almost a certain sort of Superjoint Ritual comparison here to be more exact. The band even tries its hand (successful at that) at some faster stuff in the form of ‘Bleeding From Every Hole.’ Simply put, the band shows through the album’s musical content, a clear evolution in the approach that it took this time out. It is reason enough for audiences to take in this record, and certainly not the only reason, either. The record’s lyrical content adds its own appeal to the presentation.
The lyrical content featured in Zero and Below is important to examine because as intense and heavy as the record’s musical arrangements are, they actually help translate the emotion in the songs’ lyrical themes. The album’s opener, ‘The Fear That Binds You’ reminds audiences that we don’t know what the future holds, but even despite that uncertainty, we cannot give up. Windstein delivers that message as he writes, Everything that you thought was good/Can quickly fade/And you’ll find the blackest, darkest, deepest hole you’ve made/Breaking it down/The fear that binds you/Breaking it down/The answer finds you/Survive/No more borrowed time.” The message seems relatively clear here. It comes across as that noted reminder for people to look past the darker, more emotional moments and life’s uncertainties. It is a familiar theme and just as welcome here as in any other case from any other band.
‘Confess To Nothing,’ one of the album’s early entries, presents what seems like a message about overcoming addiction. More specifically, it seems to address heroin addiction. This as Windstein writes in the song’s lead verse, “You feel the frost/The chill is touching you/That needle speaks/Stand and walk away/Hand of doom/It reaches out for you/Don’t grab ahold/Live another day/Don’t back down/Live to win.” He continues in the song’s second verse, “You’re sweating now/Your pulse begins to rise/It’s got a hold on you/Never compromise/Your soul weak and growing old/Focus your mind/Don’t destroy it now.” From there he again reminds listeners to not back down. Whether it is in fact a story of overcoming addiction or dealing with another sort of negative situation, the fact here is that the band is reminding audiences to not give in and remain positive. So again, this continued message of determination is another example of the importance of the album’s lyrical content.
‘It’s Always Worth The Gain,’ which comes late in the album’s run, is yet another example of the importance of the album’s lyrical content. In the case of this song, Windstein writes again of pushing on through life, stating, “Your hunger better always burn/You’re never guaranteed a turn/The weak are always pushed away/Never underestimate/No one knows their final fate/’Cause I have earned mine every day/Taking one step at a time/March on.” This reminder will resonate with audiences just as much as those in the other songs examined here. When each message examined here is considered along with that of the album’s other songs, the whole leaves no doubt as to the importance of the album’s lyrical content. All things considered here, the album’s lyrical content proves just as important as its musical arrangements.
As much as the overall content presented in Zero and Below does to make the album engaging and entertaining, it is only part of what will keep audiences listening. The album’s production rounds out its most important elements. That is because of how much is going on in each composition. Between the heaviness and power of Windstein’s vocals and the intense power of the songs’ instrumentations, the songs have a lot going on both in terms of volume and activity. Thanks to the work of those behind the glass, each item was expertly balanced with the others in each work. The end result is that the utmost power is brought out of each song, and by connection, audiences’ engagement and entertainment remains throughout the album. This creates a powerful general effect for the album that when considered with the album’s content, makes the record in whole one of the best of the year’s new hard rock and metal albums.
Zero and Below, the latest album from Crowbar, is another strong new offering from the veteran band. It is a presentation that will engage and entertain the band’s established audiences just as much as casual fans. That is proven in part through the album’s musical arrangements. The arrangements are important in that while they continue to exhibit the band’s familiar heavy, sludge metal style and sound, also show some growth from the band. They show the band’s willingness to take some chances. The record’s lyrical content is just as important as its musical arrangements. That is because of the messages that it delivers (and seems to deliver). The messages (and seeming messages) present what come across as very positive themes. Those themes, together with the album’s musical arrangements, give audiences much to appreciate. The production of the overall content rounds out the album’s most important elements. It ensures that each song presents the most powerful impact possible. Each item examined here is important in its own way to the whole of the album’s presentation. All things considered, they make Zero and Below one more of the best new hard rock and metal albums so far this year.
Zero and Below is available now. More information on the album is available along with all of Crowbar’s latest news at:
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