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Here we have one of my all time favourite bands and their best release so far, "Sonic Excess In Its Purest Form". Everything about Crowbar just gives me that tingly feeling in my stomach ever time I listen to them especially this record. To this day they have not released one bad album, all can be considered masterpieces. Though out of their discography this album has always stuck out to me and will always be close to my heart, it has helped me through some of the lowest lows in my life and this is what Crowbar do best, help you through those dark times we all have at some point.
Monstrous, groovy sludge riffs which many contain a great amount of melody mixed with the strong hardcore punk influence featured in most of the songs = a recipe for greatness. The riffs and melody will always be Crowbar's highlight and it shows best on this record. The riffs are like taking a Crowbar to the fucking face with relentless power(see what I did there), if you've never listened to Crowbar chances are you'll have no clue what I'm talking about, fans of them on the other hand will know exactly what I mean. Technicality is something you won't find here but if these guys were technical they wouldn't sound anywhere close to as amazing as they do. The riffs are simple, most are tuned down to "Drop A" and "Drop B" and as a guitar player, if used correctly this tuning is guaranteed to make some of the most heavy riffs you'll ever hear and the best description of the riffage here is fucking monstrous. There truly is no way to go into large detail about how powerful the riffs are on this album because words haven't been invented yet! For years I have always said this album has the strongest guitar tone and most powerful riffs in all of metal, that's a good way to describe them. Though there's beautiful, sorrowful clean playing too, mainly "In Times of Sorrow", an amazing short instrumental/ interlude, gives me chills each time. Sorrowful melodies is something you'll find throughout nearly each track on this record both musically and vocally, "The Lasting Dose" is a great example and my favourite song by Crowbar, a classic. You aren't going to find any mind blowing guitar solos here either just a heads up, this album focuses on the riffs and that's all that's necessary. Overall, this album contains my favourite riffs in all of metal and that says A LOT.
The vocals are on the same level of power as the guitar. There's no way to describe Kirk's vocals, by far one of the most unique vocalists in metal, there's absolutely no one comparable to how he sounds. Very rough, low pitched and simply monstrous is the best way to describe his sound, just as the guitar. This record is loaded with vocal melodies as well, some of the best melodies musically and vocally I've ever heard are featured on this album, "The Lasting Dose" is still the best example for melody but each track has some amazing, sorrowful melodies. Sorrowful is a word easy to explain Crowbar's sound, yet again another thing you won't understand if you've never listened to the band.
The bass is sounds enormous, with a fat, thick tone just like the guitar. Amazing bass lines throughout the entire album and it's got quite a few moments when it shines the intro of "Suffering Brings Wisdom" is a good example. Having the bass audible is enough to please me considering so many bands don't, the fact that the playing is amazing just adds to it. The drumming is just as powerful as the other instrument. The drumming flows great with the slow sludge riffs and in the "hardcore" parts, the fast punk driven sound comes in. Not to much to talk about as far as drums go, I never know what to say other than they're skilled, talented and flow great with the music, nothing else needs to be said anyway.
The songs are all memorable, there's not one riff, vocal melody, chorus, etc. that you are going to forget, each song on this record has been stuck in my head at least 20 times over the years. Each song has it's own identity and this is important, I don't like when albums have songs that sound similar and this album is the exactly opposite. All the chunky riffs, thick bass lines, sorrowful melodies and so on sound different and all amazing in their own way. This album contains some of the best song writing in metal music.
I'll talk a bit about the lyrics as well. I said before that this is an album that will help anyone through the dark times we all face at some point, this is true. The lyrics are all based on struggle and the hard things that come at us throughout life and many focus on getting out of the way you feel, simply put. Take a look:
"All that I loved, forever gone below the earth
Centuries can't heal all my wounds or kill that hurt
These things make you become a man
Frozen in time my body aches with all I do,
fracturing bones, lashing at skin until I'm through
These things make you become a man
Let go of the love you lost, suffering won't set you free
Knowledge comes from what you see and do, just take the pain and grow and grow"
These lyrics from "Suffering Brings Wisdom" are a definite uplift from your sorrows, as well as the other tracks on this album. Alright, that about explains enough about this metal masterpiece. "Sonic Excess In Its Purest Form" will always be one of the best metal albums ever recorded, if you haven't listened to it then I highly suggest you do.
While I usually hold in higher regard bands that show a willingness to experiment and change, or at least incorporate different styles over time, innovating and further pushing their own genre, I'll always have a place in my heart for Crowbar. If you've ever heard a Crowbar song, you know what to expect from them: straight-up, no bullshit, riff-driven, dirty, punishing sludge. And, really, this style suits them perfectly, and it goes great with the identity they have built in their over-20-year-old-already career. Within this frame, then, Sonic Excess in its Purest Form represents the highest point for them, making the title a very apt description of the music contained.
Opening with “The Lasting Dose”, a song that would become a Crowbar classic, alongside “Planets Collide” and “All I Had (I Gave)”, Sonic Excess wastes no time getting started. You're greeted by a mournful, melodic guitar line followed by a powerful riff as Kirk sings his sorrows the usual way, with his trademark gruff vocals - not a growl, not a shout, but a very harsh and hoarse, and yet melodic, voice. Still, that's only an aperitif for the songs which come later and represent, in my opinion, the real emotional hard-hitters in this album: “Through the Ashes (I've Watched You Burn)” and “Repulsive in its Splendid Beauty”, some of the most melancholy songs I've ever heard in Crowbar's catalog, due to the strong, memorable guitarwork and the extremely heartfelt vocals, even more so than usual, I'd say. To help give this album a little diversity, these are interspersed, then, with some angrier bits, like “To Build a Mountain” and “Awakening”, that start with hardcore-ish intensity before slowing down. And it only gets better and doomier as the album marches forth, past the bluesy instrumental interlude “In Times of Sorrow” – which despite being what some could call a “filler”, serves, as a much needed break to allow the listener some room to breathe. We have some more aggression in “It Pours From Me” and “Failure to Delay Gratification”, and, between them, the main riff of “Suffering Brings Wisdom” rears its ugly, memorable, bassy head, before “Empty Room” closes the album in an extremely high (or, well, low) note, alternating between powerful riffs and the painful verses, when Kirk's only accompanied by the rhythm section.
Due to how simple and direct Crowbar's approach is (it's just “assault you with massive riffs”, really), I don't think I can do them justice by talking about the songs themselves. Where it all comes together, and what I think is what sets them apart from other bands, is the feeling. While other prestigious sludge acts like Neurosis (and their followers, Isis, Kylesa et al) have found their style in contemplative, more philosophical/metaphysical themes, and bands like Eyehategod, Grief and Acid Bath tend towards a darker feel, exploring themes of politics, crime, misanthropy, nihilism and sometimes dark humor, Crowbar is more focused on the struggles of common folk. When they speak of suffering, that is not the be-all-end-all of their music, but something you have to get through in life. “These things make you become a man” and “Just know the world's gonna give you nothing”, Kirk belts out in Sonic Excess, in an oddly paternal manner. You're supposed to learn from suffering and not avoid or wallow in it, is what Crowbar's saying, and their music echoes it perfectly so as to make that a statement, the sound of someone struggling with the daily grind, and not merely lyrics one would phone in just to avoid making an instrumental album. And that's just not something you see in every other sludge act.
So, if you're already a fan of Crowbar, Down (where, as you probably know, Kirk plays guitar as well), Acid Bath (where Sammy Duet, the other guitarist here, used to play) or sludge metal in general, Sonic Excess is for you, as it's some of the best offerings in the genre. If you like doom metal (just as long as it's not in its more flowery or epic-sounding incarnations) or even old-school hardcore punk, this album might be for you too.
'Crowbar' are the definitive sludgy/doom band of the modern era. This being their 7th album in 10 years shows they are hard working and persistent in their campaign to bless their listeners with tales of life struggles, loss and hard-goings. I have always dubbed 'Crowbar' the working mans metal due to the equation between the average man and the never ending woes in his or her lives.
'Sonic Excess In Its Purest Form' carries on the path of what 'Crowbar' have always been known for. The NOLA sound has a distinction from other forms of doom metal in that it is heavy,down-tuned and extremely thick and slow. Kirk's vocals are harsh and full-forced with every bit of fortitude that his voice can muster. What is interesting to note is that when he is singing it is his natural voice that is highlighted due to the way he talks with a rasp and deep tone.
'The Everlasting Dose' is 'Crowbar's' signature song on the album. It comprises all the best attributes of the album and the bands harmony as a ever perfect flow from song to song. 'To Build A Mountain' is another good example of this. 'Sammy's' guitar work as always is a standout (along with Kirk's) whether it was in 'Acid Bath' or in 'Goatwhore', he is guaranteed to be at his best. The bass and overall drum sound is synchronized flawlessly and makes every song appreciable for its content and musicianship.
The opening to 'Suffering Brings Wisdom' is one of the coolest instrument parts to any song I have ever heard, quite frankly it is the most catchy on the album. 'Crowbar' is one of the most diverse bands out there today and have always been a crowd pleaser. While this may not be 'Crowbars' best album it is definitely top 3. The listener should appreciate the driving force that is the backbone to every 'Crowbar' release and therefore enjoy every song.
First I wanna talk about Kirk, 10 years go by and his voice is still beautifully up to par. It's funny to listen to death metal vocalists sing and then in interviews they sound like Mike Tyson. Not Kirk tough, I've met and talked to him before a Down concert. His voice is deep and raspy. When he sings, it's naturally burtal and not forced at all (unlike most metal)
Sonic Excess is the sound of life's painful mind trip. Instead of getting pissed off and playing some really fast, mindless bullshit. Crowbar slows down, puts thought and feeling into the music. Which builds for some pretty sick intensity once you get into it.
They pick up speed in Awakening, Failure to delay Gratifacation, and an awesome break down on Thru The Ashes. Maybe since I am a fan of Crowbar I was thinking something different or branch out more. It was a real treat to hear the instrumental of Times of Sorrow. There's good melodies through out the entire cd. It seems everytime the line up changes they still manage to keep the same orah about them.
The drumming is really tight and clean while everything else is distorted and dirty. Crowbar's music hasn't changed much but with each new cd, they get more skilled and comfortable in their sound. Sonic Excess in its Purest Form is 11 songs of Quicksand mixed with blood and testosterone.