Released: 1999, Spitfire Records
Reviewer: Nathan Robinson
Crowbar is the soundtrack to a wooly mammoth making a desperate yet futile attempt at escaping from a tar pit. Crowbar is the soundtrack to watching in slow motion a 757 airliner take a nose dive into an interstate highway. Crowbar is the soundtrack to those dreams you have where you try to run away from danger, but cannot…or when you are under water but cannot make it to the surface. What do I mean by all of this? I mean that Crowbar is angst-ridden, sludgy, doomy, heavier-than-an-elephant's-ball-sac metal! Ever since being given "Odd Fellows Rest" as a gift from a friend, I have become a fan of this band and have tracked down all of their albums. They are all still "new" to me, yet here I am faced with another…this time it is a real new album!
Some may claim that Crowbar really has not progressed over the years. But I guess it depends on your definition of "progress". Crowbar is no Amorphis, Megadeth, nor Anathema, that's for sure! Yet with each album the band has attempted to incorporate some new elements into their standard formula. "Equilibrium" is loaded with a bunch of material that directly reflects previous albums. But Crowbar has tried to riff-up some of their songs, and I think they have succeeded to an extent. Vocally, Kirk Windstein has continued the course set with "Odd Fellows Rest", combining singing with his usual fist-clenching, throat-wrenching, face-reddening yelling. And although being a bit disappointed at new drummer Sid Montz' performance at the S.O.D./Crowbar show last year, I must say that he does an excellent job on "Equilibrium". But this is the last we will hear of him, as Craig Nenenmacher has returned to the fold!
Highlights on the album would include Kirk's vocal melodies on the title track "Equilibrium", which mesh well with the slow to mid-paced beat. "Glass Full of Liquid Pain" has abrupt transitions and tempo shifts, plus dual harmony guitars, all of which usually occur too infrequently in Crowbar songs. "Command of Myself" is an ultra-doomed trip through hell's heavy walls, complete with some background talkbox noise to compliment the sorrowful guitars. This one is definitely my favorite track on the album. "To Touch the Hand of God" takes off where the title track on the "Odd Fellows Rest" album left off. This time it's just vocals, piano, and the sound of rain and thunder. This song out-dooms even My Dying Bride's brightest moments! And it shows once again that yes, Kirk CAN sing. Crowbar even does a cover of Gary Wright's "Dream Weaver". Well I think the original song is just…stupid. I cannot think of anything else to describe it as. It just sucks. Even though Crowbar covered this song as a joke, I find the vocal melodies in the chorus a bit too annoying. The music is heavy as hell, but the vocals stay too close to the original. With all respect, they did a fine job, but this particular song does not sit well with me.
Production was handled once again by Keith Falgout. "Equilibrium" is still full of detuned sadness, but the overall sound is a bit more raw than the bass-heavy "Odd Fellows Rest". All in all, this is classic Crowbar, with a few new surprises. If you consider yourself a fan, then bust your ass to the record store and get this album! And while you're out, pick up an extra set of strings for that air guitar, because you'll be sure to break some when you rock your ass off to "Equilibrium"! Check out the band's official web site for loads of information and a recent interview with Kirk: http://www.realmofcrowbar.com/crowbar.html