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.
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