Sludge - History Of Crowbar
Spitfire Records, 2000
REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 01/01/2001
Shocking admission: Up until last year, the only thing I knew about Crowbar was that Beavis & Butt-Head liked them.
It's embarassing, but it's true. So many bands come through the pipeline each year, and I only have so much time I can devote to listening to music, that inevitably someone falls through the cracks. In Crowbar's case, they took a header through one until I received Equilibrium in the mail. At that time, I learned something new about Crowbar: this was the kind of group you either love or hate. There is no middle ground.
And while I'm playing catch-up with this band through their MP3s on EMusic.com (relax, it's legal), I still find myself not quite knowing what to think of these guys after listening to their best-of Sludge - History Of Crowbar. On one hand, Kirk Windstein and crew are able to put a new spin on their doom-and-gloom style of metal, including moving away from constant open-chord progressions. On the other hand, you've heard one spine-stomper, you've heard 'em all.
Crowbar do follow a different drum, and they're not afraid to attempt to plow new musical ground - something I admire in this band. Who else would dare to try their hands at a metal ballad (?!?) on "Existence Is Punishment" - ironically, the track that Beavis & Butt-Head singled out. Who else would have the balls to cover a '70s dinosaur like "Dream Weaver"? Who else would dare to throw in a little melody and turn a good song like "Glass Full Of Liquid Pain" into something extraordinary?
The live tracks on Sludge - History Of Crowbar help to seal the effect of this band's power. "I Have Failed" and "Fixation" are two powerful examples of just what this band is capable of doing - namely, reaching into your chest and snapping your ribs like they were matchsticks.
Yet I'm still not totally convinced in Crowbar. Tracks like "All I Had (I Gave)," "Planets Collide" and "Subversion" all fail to set themselves apart as something different from numerous other metal bands I've heard over the years. It's not that they're bad, but that they're almost formulatic. I guess my disappointment kicked in after hearing the outstanding tracks on this disc; if Crowbar can hit the bullseye with those, why can't tracks like "Waiting In Silence" have the same power?
Sludge - History Of Crowbar is a disc which should tie up loose ends for anyone who came into Crowbar mid-journey, and will be a nice collection of favorites for the diehard fan. But it also shows a band who could be uneven at times - disappointing only when you hear just what they're capable of.