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Just Know The World's Gonna Give You Nothing - 100%

dystopia4, June 7th, 2015

<sonic Excess In Its Purist Form is easily one of the best sludge albums ever crafted - and arguably the greatest. Perhaps the best way to explain the insurmountable success of this record is to look at where most sludge bands fail. I've heard countless sludge bands vie their hardest to attain a certain sound. In solidifying their grasp on the filthy sludge vibe, they completely forget to back the style up with substance. I can't tell you how many times I've heard a sludge band get a solid hold on a good sound but only waste it with average riffs and non-existent songwriting. Kirk and company understand that style is only half the battle, and back that shit up with mammoth riffs, gargantuan bellows that still retain hints of melody and timeless songwriting. Crowbar are truly firing from all cylinders with Sonic Excess In Its Truest Form, and their seventh album turns out to be the best of their career as well as further proof that New Orleans being an immense spawning ground for killer music is not just a matter of history.

Odd Fellows Rest represented a turning point for Crowbar. The riffs were still as heavy as the musicians behind them, but it showed a willingness to expend the template. Swampy atmospherics lingered here and there, there was more melody and different things going on instrumentally. With equilibrium they seemed to perplexingly regress a little and create pretty much the most average Crowbar album there is (which is still miles above the average sludge band). This picks up where Odd Fellows should have left off. From the smoky guitars floating over snaking baselines in "In Times of Sorrow" that seem to evoke New orleans at night, to the melodic emotional potency of "Empty Room", this album stakes new territory while remaining true to the Crowbar identity. The secret here is that unlike Equillibrium, every aspect here truly is working in equilibrium. It's as if they took the best of all their prior albums and concentrated it into one enduring work.

The songwriting has a timeless quality, and could easily be transferred to other genres. I could see a classic songwriter such as Townes Van Zandt coming up with these tunes in a different form. Although this wouldn't make sense without the crushing yet catchy riffs, it is the songwriting that really allows it to be one of sludge's lasting statements. That said, goddamn do they ever manage to hit it out of the park with the riffs. They're to-the-point, but they successfully fulfill the dual purpose of being heavier than a freight train while being the catchiest of Crowbar's tenure of the kings of Nola. While Crowbar has always been Kirk's vision, the quality of the riffs are no doubt bolstered by Sammy Pierre-Duet. While Goatwhore absolutely had some killer shit back in the day, this and Acid Bath prove that Sammy's true talent is churning out slabs of slow n' heavy riffs. As for the vocals, this is what really give Crowbar their character. Kirk's bellows are as gruff and massive as ever (it's impossible to deny the impact of him yelling "Just know the world's gonna give you nothing on "Counting Daze" or "These things make you become a man" on Suffering Brings Wisdom"), there is a lot of melody behind his powerful roars. Like many other facets of this record, it is balance that is key.

As always, the vocals are integral to the overall Crowbar experience. As one might expect, they are about the hard times and overcoming in the face of your world crumbling around you. Make no mistake, this is no generic "overcoming adversity" whining you'd see in your average shit-tier metal-core band - this is the soundtrack to the lives of hardened men doing hard labour (or hard time). This is about staying tough and persevering when the odds are not in your favour. This is about being a man when all you want to do is curl up and die. When another person I care about inevitably gets sick or dies, I always find myself coming back to this album and the lyrics are a big part of that. At no point are their lyrics more potent then in what I'd call the best song of their career "Thru The Ashes (I've Watched You Burn)". The lyrics are simple, but they are anything but ineffective. On the surface it's about drug addiction, but really it applies to life in general. The struggle to get back up and fight no matter how hard life beats you down or how pathetic you feel.

Sonic Excess In Its Purest Form is that one album that most bands never get. It feels like everything they've done up to this point converged into one masterpiece with only the absolute best parts getting filtered through. The worst song on this album would be the best on a lot of their other albums. The cool thing about this album is that all of the songs would work in most genres - the songwriting is classic and the guitar work is heavy but at its core not inaccessible. Unlike many bands in this style, there really is a lot buried under the sludge. An ode to hardship and the perseverance of the human will, this is not only Crowbar's magnum opus but one of the greatest triumphs of heavy music in general.