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Crowbar gets moving. - 100%

aglasshouse, January 26th, 2017
Written based on this version: 1996, CD, Pavement Music

Sludge metal has had it's roots particularly deep ever since the mid-late 80's. Bands formed in '88 - '91 began releasing albums throughout the 90s, inspired by the sound of Washington-based sludge predecessors The Melvins and particularly the albums Gluey Porch Treatments and Ozma. Being an almost solely American scene in it's early stages, sludge metal began springing up mainly in Louisiana, specifically the New Orleans area with it's bustling and diverse music scene. One of the more prominent bands of this area are Crowbar, who themselves released their debut Obedience Thru Suffering in 1991, preceded only shortly by New Orleans peers Eyehategod by about a year.

It took Crowbar a few albums to get going, though it's contested as to which album it was where the band had made their mark. Obedience Thru Suffering, although highly acclaimed and extremely good, was more or less a tribute to the Melvins. I hasten to say the band's self-titled was where the band just kept getting better and better (sans Time Heals Nothing, not a fan). The bands zenith is arguable yes, but I'd like to think it's 1996's Broken Glass.

Broken Glass is quite the experience. Packed with raw emotion and power, this is album is both a return to basics and inversely and improvement. The album sort of incorporates doom elements on some of the slower tracks, as well as featuring more tuned-down instruments than those on prior albums. It's honestly a unique experience listening to the cohesion of the instruments, even though they each have their own unique recording style. The drums don't sound booming, on the contrary their more akin to a garage-rock style. This is almost amusing (though not mock-worthy) to a certain degree, as the guitars are loud and booming, and the bass is one of the most audible instruments on the album as they both crunch out some of the most cantankerously unyielding riffs that grab you by the balls in the most wonderfully violent way. It's so strange because the album puts you in the sort of stranglehold where you can't just stop listening, but it's consensual on both sides. A strange fact it may be, but a fact it is.

If you are a fan of sludge or really hardcore material in general, I'd say this is the cream-of-the-crop when it comes to Crowbar. Go wild!

Drawn To The Sound Of Broken Glass - 85%

dystopia4, October 26th, 2013

If not anything else, it would be hard to argue against Crowbar being a dependable band. While they have a very recognizable sound that consistently sticks with them and are very slow to change, they have never been ones to dabble in making disposable records. In a way it is more of the same Crowbar, while also marking the beginning of a transition into a new phase for the band which would be fully realized on Odd Fellows Rest. Pushing along with the sludge sound they helped create, Crowbar's mix of doom metal and hardcore punk proves once again to be a combination capable of kicking your teeth in.

If you've heard any of Crowbar's previous albums, the sound on this album won't at all come as a shock to you. More strong groovey riffs between chugs, more hardcore blitzkriegs, more oppressive doom, more of Krik's trademark bellows - you know the drill. Even if a lot of the material on this album isn't exactly covering new ground, it doesn't really need to be - it's all about more quality riffs and more good songwriting. However, there definitely is more melody in the vocals at times, which even delve into cleaner territory every now and again. The production here is rather good, clear enough for nothing to get obscured in the muck, but rough enough around the edges for the songs to still pack a punch.

Crowbar have never been ones for quickly changing their sound, and this recording show them slowly but surely taking subtle steps towards a more expansive sound. These changes are generally subtle, with the core tenants of the band's sound remaining very much the same. Perhaps the best example of the group treading into new territories is "Nothing", which remains one of the standout moments in Crowbar's discography and is surely the highlight of this record. The song is doomier, more atmospheric and more suspenseful than anything they've ever done up to this point. Although the guitar lines are great, as they tend to be, it is the songwriting that shines through. This could easily be peeled down to its core and make an excellent man-and-his guitar barebones acoustic track. Sometimes it's the small things that really make the difference, as the subtle piano outro proves.

While Crowbar would really break into a new era with their next album, this one shows the group trudging on with their songs of suffering. The seeds for more expansive works, but this can hardly be considered a departure from the sound of their last few albums. And that's alright. They do what they do best and they never waver in bringing ass clobbering sludge to the table. Broken Glass, like all Crowbar albums, is worth checking out. They definitely have better, but they still deliver.

Uplifting Sludge - 100%

ThrashingMetal, October 4th, 2006

This is one of the best metalcore albums I've ever heard. Some would call it "doom" but it's shouted vocals and even some of the guitar work make it the perfect blend of doom and hardcore. By definition metalcore is "various forms of metal blended with hardcore", so obviously this album is and sludge in general should be a sub-genre of metalcore. Still, this album is very good; metal or not.

The sound is very crushing and generally slow, with the occasional fast riff. The sound isn't brutal like deathcore or even death metal, but it is crushing and very heavy. The music is done perfectly with all the sounds blending to create what we know as "sludge metal", but what sounds like a wonderous masterpiece of heavy sound. Crowbar might not be on the radio, but they certainly deserve to be. There certainly is an eerieness and darkness to the music, so don't get me wrong. It's still not something the average punk-ass normal kid would wanna hear, but for those of us who raise the finger to society, it suits just fine.

As for the lyrics, it's not really varied. It centers on sadness, isolation, anger, vengeance, and general discomfort. Alot of the songs on here are rather uplifting though, with themes of getting back at those who wronged you. And of course, any time someone feels the same you do, it's always uplifting. I wouldn't call this 'depressing' in the least bit. Only one song is slightly saddening, but nothing compared to Trapt or newer Papa Roach. Now that's what I call "depressing". I like PR and Trapt, but they're too damn sad! Parents shouldn't have any objections to the album: there's no sex, minimum violence, no profanity that I remember, and the lyrics are uplifting. There's also NO Parental Advisory.

To sum it up, this is a great work of art for any fans of metalcore or doom metal. It bridges the gap effectively and rather nicely. Still, the album is very heavy and rocks hard, but it's empowering as well. I strongly reccommend this album to anyone who needs some encouragement or just needs to vibe.

Angry sludges of suicide - 87%

Insignium, November 22nd, 2003

What is this really? Seemingly a lot of people disagree on wether it is doom metal or hardcore. It lets out a lot of heavy anger in the style of harcore. The vocals seounds like the vocalists really scream their lungs out. So yes, a lot of core in it. On the other side the music is slow and heavy. The riffs often have a similarity to what you'd find in traditional doom. Although the guitars are more rumbling. All riffs land on a deep note, just like they do in doom metal. You could say that Crowbar is playing doom with hardcore guitars. Some of the tracks does have near harcore, uptempo parts. But the music is dominated by a slow and heavy doom which curiously enough doesn't make the uptempo parts feel strained. Instead they blend perfectly. This is the kind of doom metal which drags along. Continously buzzing in slow, sludgy motions. This is called sludge doom.

With the musical elements in a even tie it's up to the lyrics to decide where the music will tilt. And they tilt the whole load to the doom end. Joyless, depressed, suppressed and devastated. These are the lyrics of a true doom soul. There is no one theme for the lyrics on Broken Glass. The one thing they have in common is that they all show the dark and heavy burdens of this world. The meaning of "broken glass" is the fragileness of the human soul. How easy it is for the world to break it down and leave it shattered. It's not really like anybody else cares if one unimportant cup shatters. The world cannot be trusted to care for you. If no one else wants to help, you are on your own. Being alone in our world means that you are also slowly dying in your own misery.

Broken Glass is the kind of album which tenses all your muscles, without any other break than the short period between tracks. Filled. With restrained anger and frustration. Heavy. With dispair and crushed dreams. Crowbar lifts more than one finger at the world. Accusing it for all the pain. The pain never fades or changes much. This is mainly the only bad thing about the album. The riffs change, but the guitars are so rusty and similar that the music becomes somewhat similar through out the album. There are almost never any melody in the vocals either. In despite of this, Crowbar has found a way to use this to their advantage as well. If you give the album more than a casual listen then you will notice the differences and be able to enjoy this album to it's full extent.

Interpretation of the tracks:
-Conquering: is a short track with a lot of core in it. A lot of the track is in uptempo pace, but there is also a taste of the slower and heavier bits that will come later on the album. The guitars vary from aggression to being more floating. The vocals and drums are likewise. The lyrics also create an image of what is to come. The track is about suicide, but it's not centered there. The anger in the track is an anger with those who has driven one to this edge. The center is punishment and using suicide to punish the suppressors the anger is directed at.

-Like Broken Glass: thunders off in a doomy fashion. Quite alike traditional doom. The tempo doesn't vary as much as the previous track. Actually the tempo shows what the pace of the rest of the album will be like. The track has a lot of anger in it, but not in the same way as Conquering. The anger is continous and tense. If you could say Conquering bites with shiny metal teeth. Then you could say that Like Broken Glass chews with the same teeth. The major difference in the lyrics is that the anger is directed towards oneself and the inner poisoning one has created. An unforgiving taint of ones own thoughts.

-(Can't) Turn Away From Dying: marks the point where the doom elements are clearly dominant. Brutish and heavy sections are broken up by more silent sections. Don't misunderstand. The music still sludges during the silenter areas, but a little more minimalistic than before. There are two new types of vocals as well which are used during the silenter areas. One whispered and one strained, gurgling one. All this makes the track stand out as a dwelling anger with empty patches inside. The lyrics still blame the outside world of the misery, but unlike before most of the lyrics are in two word sentences, making the track sound depressing. Inner pain justified by bitterness towards what created it.

-Wrath Of Time Be Judgement: share a lot of traits with Like Broken Glass. The music is angry in the same continous way. The tempo and rhythm is alike as well. Even the vocals strain the music in the same way. The bass guitar seems to play a little lower though. Making the track heavier. Even though the track is a lot like Like Broken Glass the riffs are different enough to not allow the tracks to seem like copies of eachother. The most major difference is in the lyrics. Instead of an anger towards oneself this is retribution. This is what the anger against the outside world can do. Revenge is such a sweet moment once, or if, one rises from the pit the world has dug for you. Or maybe it's the wishes of someone far down that pit. It might seem that it's both...

-Nothing: deserves it's name. At least compared to the other tracks. On this track Crowbar has added a wast atmosphere which can be heard in the background. The drums beat heavily and slow while the guitars buzz along with them. The vocals differ as well. They have the characteristic strain on them, but now contain pain as well. It is the echoes of the vocals together with a vague piano that creates the special atmosphere. This song is the song of lonelyness. It speaks of being left behind to die. This is about the world destoying everything precious in ones life. Slowly strangling the soul with depression. Between the lines one can clearly read the value of this persons life. Nothing.

-Burn The World: goes on in a tad above the average pace of the album. There aren't any traces of Nothing that is transferred to this track. The heaviness has changed. The drums work with the guitars to hammer in each beat. The vocals are pushy. Screaming straight forwards. The anger nearly takes off at times. The guitars are still doomy, but plays a lot higher notes than before. This is an odd track. It is angry, but realisticly points out that it's not because the suppressors intentionally push one downwards. They are simply too blind with fear of not being on top to realize they are doing it. Still it stirs heavy emotions like frustration, pain and hate in the person who's being suppressed.

-I Am Forever: is truly sludgy. Lazy drums pushing slowly, but steadily on. Crunching guitars that continously moves on in steadfast motions, and harmonizing with the guitars. Even though the riffs don't go downwards they do sound doomy. The vocals heel with the music, slowing down after Burn The World. They move back and forth from the background, sounding haunted at times. This track steps aside from the thoughts of suicide. This time it's about not dying, but the lack of being able to do so. Instead one has to go on in the torture of being alive. After all the things one has prized about life has been taken, one still has to go on and endure the loss of it.

-Above, Below And In Between: continues in much the same way as I Am Forever. The main difference is in the heaviness of the track. Above, Below And In Between is, if only a tad, harder than I Am Forever. Still the tracks are just about equally sludgy. They at times sound like the same track, but they are just enough different to not be clones. The lyrics does differ a lot more. They return to consentrating on decieve and the lessons of a cruel world. In this case it goes towards ignorance. The way the world teaches one how to walk way through a hard lesson. Nobody cares for you if you should fall under to the pressure, so you should give no quarter either.

-You Know (I'll Live Again): closes into harcore again. Not as much as Conquering, but enough to make you doubt wether Crowbar actually is doom-metal or not. The track speeds up and tightens in all aspects. The heaviness grows thinner. It doesn't vanish, but still the music seems completely different. At least until the mid section arrives. The mid section is a slower part which is still lighter than all the tracks since Conquering. Lyrically the track is about regaining strength after having been suicidal. Here the realizaton that hate leads nowhere comes forth. Yet the track also dares anyone to come and stomp on you again. Ever how much the world tries to take one's life, there is always a way to escape.

-Reborn Through Me: ends the album by slowling back down into doom metal. This track sounds more like traditional metal in many ways. The lyrics and grunging guitars still link the music to hardcore, but less than anywhere else on the album. The drums pace vary up and down, but the pace of the track is concistent. The music feels deeper and more depressing than before. The pain in the vocals is back. Whispers in the background sweep over the track like a cold wind. This is the result of all the time under the worlds iron handed suppression. All courage to live has faded. All the emotions has tainted the mind. There is no room to find happiness. The taint has swallowed it. As the taint slowly seeps out it leaves behind an empty space inside. Only death can fill it...