Crowbar Lifesblood For The Downtrodden

Their first album since 2001’s Sonic Excess In Its Purest Form and their eighth studio effort overall, Lifesblood For The Downtrodden finds New Orleans sludge-meisters Crowbar distilling that handful of riffs that they’ve stretched into a career and synthesising an album that will go down in doom history as one of their best. With the help of ex-Pantera and Down compadre Rex Brown on bass (and production) and original Crowbar drummer Craig Nunenmacher, guitarist and lead throat Kirk Windstein wades through the still-warm muck with opener "New Dawn,” a neo-dirge cut that beckons back to the best from 1998’s Odd Fellows Rest. "Slave No More” and "Fall Back to Zero” are speedier anthems reminiscent of live staples "Self-Inflicted” and "All I Had (I Gave).” Windstein injects "Angel’s Wings” with thrashier interludes yet plies his gloom with a solid, Cathedral-like progression. "Coming Down” is stained with tinges of mellower Pantera, while Windstein indirectly pays tribute to Dimebag Darrell’s string-bending spirit in the bridges of "Underworld.” The relentless "Dead Sun” and especially "The Violent Reaction” serve as fast/slow change-ups to the numbing riff wreckage of "Holding Something” and "Moon.” The closing track, "Lifesblood,” is more of a free-form acoustic piece cut similar to Led Zeppelin unwinding with Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour after recording Physical Graffiti. Like 2000’s Equilibrium, Lifesblood is a mixed bag of metal influences that harmonically converge to give Crowbar yet another career highpoint. (Candlelight)