So let me get this straight. For two decades a self-medicated Kirk Windstein (vocals/guitar) was making with CROWBAR some of the most enormously riffed, supremely composed NOLA misery metal albums ever recorded, up to and including 2005's "Lifesblood For The Downtrodden". Then the guy gets clean and sober, and look what happens; he makes another enormously riffed, supremely composed album of NOLA misery metal. In terms of scientific classification, that makes him a fucking machine. CROWBAR hasn't made a bad album yet and "Sever The Wicked Hand" is no exception.Produced by Windstein, engineered by Duane Simoneaux, and mixed/mastered by Zeuss, "Sever The Wicked Hand" is the best-sounding CROWBAR album yet, even if some of rawness of the guts and sludge sound of earlier releases has softened a pinch. But the differences are marginal at best and the emotive guitar work of Windstein, as well as the sorrowful atmospherics, pours of this bad bay like blood from deep wounds, which when you get right down to it is the essence of any CROWBAR album. Universally known as a riff king for his trademark style, Windstein has again written an album full of ridiculously weighty ones, the kind that seem to drag the listener down into a deep black hole of human sorrow. And the accompanying personal lyrics ensure the listener stays put and wallows in it, that is, when he's not reveling in the sonic crunch of it all. The weeping guitar melody that opens "Isolation (Desperation)" and soon transform into a mean, desperate riff welcomes all back into the CROWBAR fold. "Liquid Sky And Cold Black Earth" and "Echo An Eternity" exemplify the rivers of suffocating melancholy that comprise one side of the CROWBAR experience, while the tough chug, accentuated with double bass bursts, of "Protectors Of The Shrine" and the up-tempo "The Cemetery Angels" represent the side expressing blind rage and contempt. If anything sets this one apart from previous CROWBAR releases it is a songwriting approach from a rejuvenated Windstein that offers more variety and attention to detail. Take the half-gallop chug that turns to ascending lick on the quick paced "Cleanse Me, Heal Me", for example. A haunting piece called "A Farewell to Misery" that features Duane Simoneaux's piano and Patrik Plata's choral vocals is a nice touch as well. No doubt about it; "Sever The Wicked Hand" is indisputable proof that Windstein hasn't lost a step and that CROWBAR continues to stand alone as an iconic NOLA metal act.
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