kirk winstein

Album Review: “Dream In Motion” by Kirk Windstein

Heavy metal luminary Kirk Windstein has spent the last 35 years gracing the world with the heaviest, crushing, earth splitting, melancholic metal on the planet as founder and front man of Crowbar. His aptly titled solo debut, Dream In Motion, retains the sorrowful, downbeat spirit of Crowbar, but with a varied musical soundscape. The title track and initial single commences the record with Kirk’s signature sludge guitar riffs accompanied with pounding drums and bass. An ode to his life and career, “Dream In Motion” is a declaration of perseverance and dedication. It is a story of a man that has seen it all and knows that there is more to come. The grooving midsection and crunching guitar riffs reaffirm why Kirk’s music has stood the test of time.

“Hollow Dying Man” is a desolate, eerie number with gloomy riffs that one would expect to hear at a funeral procession. This melancholic feeling remains throughout the album. “Once Again” is notable for its jazzy percussion, which strangely complements the hazy, weeping guitars on the track. “The World You Know” is another dirge with a depressing, overwhelming riff that feels like a looming black cloud. Despite the despondent music, Kirk urges one to live on, in hopes of a better tomorrow. “Necropolis,” features a strumming guitar that sounds like tears hitting the ground. The mournful guitar keys accentuate the feeling of sadness and misery on this track. The album concludes with a cover of “Aqualung” by Jethro Tull and a personal favorite song of mine. Crowbar has played this song live, but never recorded it for an album. Kirk and company cover the song superbly, especially during the acoustic part of the song. A song about homeless man without hope, the lyricist encourages Aqualung to carry on. It is a fitting end to an album created by a man that refuses to give up.

Dream In Motion is not a Crowbar album by another name. There are heavy parts on the record, but it focuses more on mood than loud guitars. Crowbar has several songs in its discography that are soft, psychedelic and unorthodox (Odd Fellows Rest, Amaranthine to name a couple). Thus, Dream is not an album out of left field, as Crowbar fans are familiar with Kirk’s softer material. That feeling of hopelessness and isolation disrupted by but a scintilla of optimism is also present on this record. Heaviness is not just about volume, but feeling and Kirk masters that emotion as he’s mastered the riff.

Dream In Motion is a very strong effort that will satisfy Crowbar fans who have followed Kirk on his amazing journey. The fact that Crowbar are recording a new album this year and Kirk is back in Down is proof positive that the dream continues.

Check out Crowbar’s website for tour dates and merch:

http://www.crowbarnola.com/

Top 10 Heavy Metal Albums Of 2016

We wrap up another year and it is time for the annual “best of” list for 2016 heavy metal releases. Old school thrash metal acts like Testament and Sodom released stellar albums this year. Symphonic metal band Delain’s newest record was a solid metal record with commercial appeal. 2016 will be remembered as the “Year of Death” due to the passing of so many celebrities this year. However, metal was alive and well this year.

Testament – The Brotherhood of the Snake

This lean and mean release is unapologetic thrash metal. Alex Skolnick and Eric Peterson unleash a hailstorm of riffs and Chuck Billy’s vocals are as biting and vitriolic as ever. Brotherhood faced stiff competition from releases by Anthrax, Megadeth and Metallica, but this band managed to stand out.

Crowbar – The Serpent Only Lies

The return of original bassist Todd Strange certainly played a factor in Crowbar returning to its roots on Serpent. Frontman Kirk Windstein remarked in interviews the he listened the band’s older records for inspiration and it certainly shows on this album. Songs like the title track and “Surviving The Abyss” would easily fit on Odd Fellows Rest or the self-titled album.

Sodom – Decision Day

The teutontic trio had a stellar year with its 15th album. The band’s raw, ripping sound has not dulled after 35 years and it shows on tracks like “In Retribution,” “Caligula,” and “Blood Lions.” A head banging affair from start to finish.

Nails – You’ll Never Be One Of Us

California grindcore act Nails separate the strong from the weak with this release. Clocking in at 21 minutes, You’ll Never Be One Of Us pulls no punches musically or vocally. Napalm Death and Terrorizer made the path for extreme metal and Nails is laying pavement over it.

Delain – Moonbathers

There is a zeal of commercial appeal on Moonbathers, but the heaviness is still present. This record successfully fuses symphonic metal, pop and electronic and makes for an interesting listen. Charlotte Wessain’s angelic help drive the music, soaring like a bird over a stream of riffs.

Prong – X: No Absolutes

Prong maintains the creative renaissance it’s enjoyed since 2012’s Carved Into Stone. There are elements of hardcore, thrash, industrial and a little avant garde on No Absolutes, which made for a diverse album. Tommy Victor’s guitar playing is second to none on this record with the face ripping “Sense of Ease” and sludgy “Belief System.”

Amon Amarth – Jomsviking

Amon Amarth can do no wrong and it shows on Jomsviking. The tales of viking, raids, blood, and victory never get old and the music complements the subject matter. The band’s sound is consistent and still potent almost 25 years since the band’s formation in 1992.

Witchery – In His Infernal Majesty’s Service

The blackened-thrash supergroup return from a six year absence with this 11 track hellraiser, that puts the dead on the notice. Tracks like “Lavey-athan” “The Burning of Salem” and “Escape From Dunwich Valley” showcase the band’s uncanny ability to thrash and groove without issue.

Entombed A.D. – Dead Dawn

L.G. Petrov and company continue to explore to death n’ roll sound created by his previous band Entombed. The doom of “As The World Fell” neatly parallels the battering hardcore of “Total Death”. The band’s sophomore album is much more cohesive than its debut album and shows a very confident band.

Product of Hate – Buried in Violence

I have said this band is America’s answer to The Haunted. Buried in Violence is modern American thrash sans the retro vibe that saturated the American metal scene for several years. “Blood Coated Concrete” is an aggressive pit-inducing track that will satisfy metalheads old and new.

CD Review: “The Serpent Only Lies” by Crowbar

The Masters of Sludge get back to the basics on their 11th record, The Serpent Only Lies. The return of Todd Strange may play a role in this as Crowbar aim for heaviness over experimentation on this album. This is not to say that 2011’s Sever The Wicked Hand and 2014’s Symmetry in Black were not heavy. However, Crowbar included lush, ambient tracks that worked to diversify the mood on both records. On Serpent, the boys mean business and prove this out the gate with “Falling While Rising.” The stomping riff lumbers like a giant down a mountain before taking off in to a galloping beat.

This is the band at its finest and is sure to become a fan favorite. Crowbar also return to its hardcore punk roots with “I Am The Storm” with its dysmorphic d-beat and Kirk’s lyrics of self-empowerment and unconquered strength. It gets the job done in less than 3 minutes and shows Crowbar’s superb ability to blend hardcore and metal. “Surviving The Abyss” has a dreamy, melancholic riff that paint a bleak picture of walking in the darkness. This track is in the same vein as “Planets Collide” on the band’s 1998 release Odd Fellows Rest. Thus, it serves as another example of the band rediscovering its old sound. The title track is another highlight with its punkish riffing but monastic chorus. The molten, dissonant riffing of Kirk Windstein and Matt Brunson is in full form here.

This record is more focused than Crowbar’s past couple of releases. This record features only 10 songs and clocks in at 45 minutes. Serpent is not generic by any means, and the band does not play it safe. However, there are fewer avant-garde songs on this album than on the band’s past few records. Serpent shows Crowbar playing the somber, sludgy, doom metal that brought the band recognition in the first place. However, Kirk and company are not remaking Time Heals Nothing or Obedience Through Suffering. Serpent is a modern take on the quartet’s old school sound and it works. The production is stellar and the album is a great follow up to Symmetry in Black.

The Serpent Only Lies is another notch in the belt for Crowbar. Fans of the band will enjoy hearing Todd Strange pluck out his godly basslines in the band that he helped form. The record is not trite and there is still an experimental element that is refreshing. Crowbar has delivered once again and that is no lie.

For news and tour dates, check out the band’s Facebook page.

Top heavy metal albums of 2014

As we close out 2014, we should look back on the metal albums that stood out these past 12 months. 2014 was the year of the comeback as several legendary bands released notable albums after considerably lengthy absences. This includes At the Gates, Behemoth, Entombed A.D. and Sanctuary. With one more year under our belt it is safe to say 2015 will definitely deliver the goods. Now without further ado a list of the best heavy metal albums of 2014.

 

1. Behemoth- The Satanist

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2. At the Gates – At War with Reality

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3. Crowbar – Symmetry in Black

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4. Sanctuary – The Year the Sun Died

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5. The Haunted – Exit Wounds

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6. Prong – Ruining Lives

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7. Entombed A.D. – Back to the Front

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8. Septicflesh – Titan

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9. Judas Priest – Redeemer of Souls

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10. Vallenfyre – Splinters

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CD Review: “Constricting Rage of the Merciless” by Goatwhore

The album is relentlessly fast and coarse.

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Review by David Feltman

Criminally underrated and perhaps unfairly pigeonholed into the blackened death metal genre, Goatwhore is one of the most consistent and hardest working acts in extreme metal. Despite misfortune and multiple lineup changes, the band has managed to not only maintain its core, but also release a new album every two-to-three-years like clockwork while constantly touring.

While fans considered 2012’s Blood for the Master to be the band’s high point, Constricting Rage of the Merciless appears hell bent on one-upping its predecessor. The album is relentlessly fast and coarse, inviting comparison to Carcass’ recent Surgical Steel. The band’s sound is truly blackened in imagery only. The New Orleans natives cultivate a technical death metal style that is cross pollenated with all of the speed and shred of traditional thrash and the sleazy grooves of southern steel. Frontman Sammy Duet, of Acid Bath and Crowbar fame, has let his pedigree sound germinate with Goatwhore. Tracks like “Baring Teeth for Revolt” and “FBS” shift gears easily into Motorhead-esque grooves without losing momentum. Duet never shies away from shredding, dive-bombing guitar heroics on tracks like “Reanimating Sacrifice” and “Externalize This Hidden Savagery.” However, he shreds sparingly on the album, lightly seasoning the occasional track but never overpowering the other elements.

With the cult following the band has built in its tenure, Goatwhore could easily coast through tours on its existing back catalogue and/or idly turn out more of the same (cough*Cannibal Corpse*cough). But despite a nearly 20-year career, Goatwhore feels like a band just hitting its stride.

Goatwhore’s new album is brimming with energy, but to get the full gut pounding experience this is a band you should see live. Luckily, Goatwhore will be playing The Masquerade in Atlanta on 7/30/2014 with Morbid Angel.