Crowbar Front Man’s Debut Solo LP Is A Surprisingly Engaging Presentation

Courtesy: eOne

Kirk Winstein has spent the better part of his professional career at the helm of the famed sludge metal band Crowbar.  That band has released eleven albums over the course of its more than 25 year life.  After having spent so many years focusing on writing, performing and touring with his band mates in Crowbar, Windstein has broken out on his own for the first time this year with his debut solo album Dream in Motion.  The 10-song record is an interesting offering from Windstein, who is known mainly for his gravelly vocal delivery, which is just as present here as ever, but he also takes a slightly lighter tone at times, which when coupled with the album’s overall instrumentation, leads to comparisons to works from the likes of Type O Negative.  At others, Crowbar’s sound can be heard just as much here as can other influences.  The record’s lyrical themes, coupled with the noted musical arrangements, add more interest to the album.  From themes of perseverance (as in the album’s opener, which will be discussed shortly) to the issue of dealing with people who are anything but good for a person in ‘Toxic,’ (which will be discussed a little later) to taking on societal issues, such as in the album’s closer – a cover of Jethro Tull’s ‘Aqualung’ – the album proves itself an interesting first solo outing for Windstein that is worth at least an occasional listen.  That is just as much the case when the record’s other songs not noted here are taken into consideration along with the songs directly addressed in this review.

Kirk Windstein’s debut solo record Dream in Motion is an intriguing presentation from the longtime Crowbar front man that is deserving of at least an occasional listen.  That is proven in part through its musical arrangements and its lyrical themes.  The record’s opener/title track.  ‘Dream in Motion’ is anchored by an arrangement that take some elements of Crowbar’s music and crosses that with a bit of an old school metal influence for a whole that is in itself a unique presentation.  It is a work that makes for a good start, musically, to the record.  It also serves well in translating the emotion exuded through the song’s lyrical theme.  That theme is one of perseverance.

The theme of perseverance is noted right from the song’s outset as Windstein sings in the song’s lead verse, “A song of hope/A burning mind/Unleashing strength from deep inside/The will to fight/To carry on/Within my heart/It’s never ever gone.”  He continues in the song’s second verse, “I’ve seen so much through all these years/I’ve seen the light through burning tears/I’ve done my best to turn away/And kill the darkness every single day.”  Windstein adds in the song’s third and final verse, “My light will never ever fade/I stand alone/My mind will rise above it all/I’ve learned the pain will slowly die/I’ve touched the sky.”  Additionally, he states in the song’s chorus, “This is a dream in motion/It will never end/It’s an eternal hunger/Growing life again.”  Once again, this comes across as a determined statement of perseverance.  This message gains even more traction when it is considered along with the song’s powerful musical arrangement, which works to really express so much frustration yet positive emotion and thought.  The coupling of the elements makes the song in whole a good start for the album, and an equally strong example of what makes the album a notable presentation.  It is just one of the album’s most notable songs, too.  ‘Toxic,’ which comes later in the album’s run, does just as much as ‘Dream in Motion’ to exhibit what makes the album so unique.

‘Toxic’ takes Windstein in a somewhat new direction again in its musical arrangement.  The guitar riff, drums and bass here come together to create a sound that at some points, is comparable to works from some 90s hard rock bands.  One could argue that there is a hint of a Pantera influence here, as a matter of fact.  At the same time, there is still an element of Crowbar in the song’s arrangement.  In bringing those influences together, the song in whole presents itself as a standout addition to the album.  It also does well to help translate the frustration of the song’s subject with that person whose influence is not so positive on the subject.

Windstein opens the song, singing from the subject’s standpoint, “You twist up my words/My voice speaks the truth/Slashed into my thoughts/you’re pulling up roots/the seeds that you bury deep into the earth/Grew vines that are rotting/they stole my self worth.”  He continues in the song’s second verse, “I listen to you and hear only lies/My ears have been burning with infinite cries/Your presence is toxic, so please go away/uprooting the evil/It’s your turn to pay.”  This is relatively straight forward.  It paints the picture of someone dealing with an individual who is narcissistic, to say the very least.  The song’s chorus adds to that impact even more, with Windstein singing, “Your misery in frozen time/I’m feeling pain that isn’t mine/The hold you had on me is gone/The growing need burns on and on.”  Once more, this is someone standing up to another individual whose impact has been anything but positive.  It is another song to which so many listeners can relate and connect.  Keeping that in mind, it is one more way in which Dream in Motion proves its value.  That is especially, again, considering the use of that content with the song’s musical arrangement.  It is just one more example of what makes Dream in Motion a positive solo debut for Windstein.  The cover of Jethro Tull’s ‘Aqualung’ is one more way in which the record proves its strength.

‘Aqualung’ stands out because when one thinks of Jethro Tull, one’s mind does not necessarily go to thoughts of Crowbar or even to thoughts of its front man.  The fact of the matter however, is that the cover featured here actually is surprisingly entertaining.  It stays largely true to its source material.  Windstein, in his vocal delivery, even does well taking on Jethro Tull front man Ian Anderson’s own vocal delivery.  Considering that the song and album were considered such a stark stylistic departure for Jethro Tull from its own past works, that makes it even more of a fitting finale for Windstein’s record.  That is because it is such a stark contrast to everything else featured throughout Dream in Motion.  Yet it does so well in itself.  Everyone involved in the song’s presentation here did an admirable job of generating that classic rock vibe here while also giving the song a slightly amped up update.  When the arrangement is considered along with the song’s lyrical theme, which takes on the societal issue of how we treat those in situations less positive than our own, it makes the song in whole a statement that is just as strong as the album’s opener.  That is especially considering that in the song, it is noted that Aqualung, the song’s title character, does actually see some hope despite everything.  It echoes the theme in the album’s opener, and reminds us that hope is there.  When this is considered along with the other songs noted here — and the rest of the album’s works — the album in whole shows once more why it is a surprisingly entertaining listen.  It proves itself a record that for a debut, is a good start for Windstein and is worth at least an occasional listen.

Crowbar front man Kirk Windstein’s debut solo record Dream in Motion is a surprisingly engaging offering.  That is due to its musical arrangements and its lyrical themes, which will connect to its listeners from start to end, as evidenced by the analysis presented here.  Between the songs noted here and the rest of the album’s entries, the album in whole proves itself worth hearing at least occasionally.  More information on Dream in Motion is available along with all of Kirk Windstein’s latest news and more at:

 

 

 

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Symmetry In Black Is A Welcome Return From Crowbar

Courtesy:  eOne Music

Courtesy: eOne Music

2014 has been quite the year for hard rock and metal.  New releases from the likes of Anti-Mortem, Fozzy, and Wovenwar have already highlighted an already busy year.  And new releases on the way from Machine Head, Exodus, and Slipknot before the year lets out are giving metalheads the world over even more reason to be excited.  If that’s not enough reason for the metal masses to be happy this year, then perhaps the latest full length studio release from Crowbar will excite some members of the metal nation.  The band released Symmetry in Black late this spring via eOne Music.  This latest record, the band’s ninth, presents some of the band’s best material to date.  One reason for the quality and heaviness of the songs on this record is the full focus of guitarist Kirk Windstein.  Having put his other projects on the side so as to give full focus to Crowbar, he sounds at the top of his game.  And along with his band mates—Matt Brunson (guitar), Tommy Buckley (drums), and Jeff Golden (bass)—the work of the New Orleans-based four-piece presents a band that is at the top of its collective game.  The songs on this album are impressive not just for their heaviness, but for their lyrical content.  The album’s opener ‘Walk With Knowledge Wisely’ is proof of that.  The same can be said of ‘Teach The Blind To See,’ which comes late in the album’s run.  ‘A Wealth of Empathy’ offers its own interesting lyrical content set against some rather heavy riffs, too.  The combination of this trio of just these three works shows how much Crowbar still has to offer audiences even today.  There are nine other songs on this record from which audiences can choose their own favorite(s).  In listening through those tracks and the songs noted here, audiences new and old alike will agree again that Symmetry in Black proves to be Crowbar’s best full length studio release to date.

Crowbar’s ninth full length studio release is some of the band’s best work to date as already noted. That is evident right off the top in the album’s opener ‘Walk With Knowledge Wisely.’ This song is a pure, heavy slab of southern sludge metal. Vocalist/guitarist Kirk Windstein is at the top of his game here, having put his other projects on the back burner for the time being. That pure, heavy sound set against the song’s thought provoking lyrics make it a hard-hitting return for the band. Windstein writes in this song, “My will cannot be broken/Cause when I rot I crawl back from the dead/I am the living proof/That you can right what is wrong in your head/The weak can always overcome/But only if they burn with desire.” Those few lines alone are empowering to say the very least. Their juxtaposition against the song’s dark, heavy sound makes them even more impactful. They become two polar opposites that together make a clear statement of determination and its payoff. As if that wasn’t enough of an example of the song’s message, Windstein goes on to write, “I am the living proof/That a soul can burn a thousand times/Accept what God has given you/And you’ll find the answer all around.” Don’t mistake that lien for Crowbar being a “Christian Band.” That’s hardly the case. It is simply Windstein and his band mates hammering home the fully positive message that it is possible to overcome so much of life’s negativity and difficulty. What better way to return after three years than with such a powerful musical and lyrical statement?

‘Walk With Knowledge Wisely’ is a powerful first statement from Crowbar on its new release. That’s because of the mix of its heavy sound and empowering lyrics. On the other side of things, a song such as ‘Teach The Blind To See’ will raise just as much conversation. That is thanks in large part to its lyrical content. Windstein writes in this song, “So many years so many words/Bringing honesty to you/Just follow me/You won’t regret/It’s what I do/I don’t forget/I’ll lead you to the truth.” One the one hand, one could argue that this is meant to be a social commentary of sorts. It could potentially be aimed at religious leaders whether they come from organized religion or from cults. The message would pretty much be the same regardless in that case. Making for even more conversation, Windstein goes on to write, “Know I’m not the enemy/I can teach the blind to see/Too many tears too many wounds/Bringing healing to the ill/Just follow me/You won’t regress/I’m giving life, I’m giving breath/At times it’s hard, at times I’m blind/But I bring new life to you/And in the end/That’s what is real/Cause agony will make you feel/Into freedom I lead you.” It goes without saying that this makes for even more discussion. It would be interesting to know for certain the inspiration for this song. Regardless, the fact that it has the potential to create so much discussion combined with its pummeling musical heaviness makes it one more of the best pieces on this album.

Both ‘Walk With Knowledge Wisely’ and ‘Teach The Blind To See’ are important in their own right to Symmetry in Black in terms of its overall presentation. Musically, both songs are extremely heavy. Lyrically speaking, they couldn’t be more opposite from one another. One is empowering. The other seems something of a commentary. So both songs present their own value to the album in whole. They just do so in their own way. The same can be said of ‘A Wealth of Empathy.’ Much like the album’s opener, this song presents a rather positive message of hope set against a rather heavy musical side that directly contrasts its lyrical side. Windstein writes in this song of overcoming all of the negativity thrown out in life. One could actually argue in the case of this song that it is in its own right a companion to ‘Walk With Knowledge Wisely’ as that song discussed trying to overcome said difficulties and negativity in life. This piece goes more in an introspective direction, with Windstein looking back on those difficulties and negativity, declaring that he has overcome them. He writes here, “I can’t explain my suffering/But I have lived through misery/My faith will pull me through/And bring to me new life/No need for sympathy/I’ve overcome/My strife/No longer feeling cold/The mind grows wise as we grow old.” That is quite the hopeful statement. And as with the album’s opener, such statement set against the song’s foreboding musical element, it makes for an even more powerful statement of personal emotional strength. That overall impact makes this song one of the highest of points on this record. Together with ‘Walk With Knowledge Wisely,’ ‘Teach The Blind To See,’ and the album’s remaining nine tracks, they make up an album that is one that any long-time fan of Crowbar will thoroughly enjoy.

Whether it be for the album’s more inspirational songs such as the pair mentioned here or for others that make up this record, every fan of Crowbar will find their own reason to enjoy this new record. It is available now in stores and online. Fans can get more info on this and other releases from Crowbar as well as the latest updates from the band online at:

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