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Crowbar - The Serpent Only Lies album review

Nola sludge heroes still feeling the churn

A press shot of Crowbar taken in 2016

Let’s dispense with the obvious; you’re not cracking into the new Crowbar album with impatient, toe-tapping curiosity as to what far-flung new direction the crushing Cajuns have undertaken. They’re never going to flit about with jazzy breakdowns, futuristic bursts of electronica or splashy prog noodling. No, the compositional manifest of these 30-year sludge purveyors is as unpredictable as the sun rising and setting: concrete-battered riffs sneering with blackened tritonal leads and the unholy roar of guitarist and vocalist Kirk Windstein.

With their 11th studio outing, the Louisiana-bred metallers have doubled down on their unyielding commitment to melodic sludginess with 10 new apocryphal dirges, oozing with chunky riffage, lumbering tempos and snarling couplets like, ‘If you grow a set of balls, it just might change your life’, from the record’s bludgeoning highlight, The Enemy Beside You. Beyond their enduring gravitational heaviness, Crowbar have consistently paced themselves ahead of their genre with a penchant for embedding absurdly catchy hooks into the walls of their riffs and concussive tracks like Embrace The Light and the galloping I Am The Storm showcase this prowess with chest-pounding swagger. Recalling the corrosive ferocity of their strongest efforts, The Serpent Only Lies is steady, infectious and heavy as fuck.

Hailing from San Diego, California, Joe Daly is an award-winning music journalist with over thirty years experience. Since 2010, Joe has been a regular contributor for Metal Hammer, penning cover features, news stories, album reviews and other content. Joe also writes for Classic Rock, Bass Player, Men’s Health and Outburn magazines. He has served as Music Editor for several online outlets and he has been a contributor for SPIN, the BBC and a frequent guest on several podcasts. When he’s not serenading his neighbours with black metal, Joe enjoys playing hockey, beating on his bass and fawning over his dogs.