Released: 2016, eOne Music
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
Crowbar is a band that doesn’t need much of an introduction anymore. The AC/DC of self-loathing and sonic depression, there’s some comfort in knowing that a new Crowbar album will be almost immediately identifiable, while still managing to not specifically sound like anything else in their catalogue. So it should come as absolutely no surprise that THE SERPENT ONLY LIES is yet another reliably consistent Crowbar album.
In the press for the album, Kirk Windstein has offered up that he went back to the well of inspiration that fueled the likes of BROKEN GLASS and the self-titled sophomore opus, and it definitely shows in the 10 new tracks. There’s an outward hostility across the first four Crowbar albums that’s absent across much of the post-ODD FELLOWS material; not that the albums since then haven’t been pissed off and heavy, but there was a turning point where Kirk looked in the mirror and started pointing more and more of that hostility inward towards himself. Hell, as great of an album is it is, SEVER THE WICKED HAND is almost Zen like in its acceptance of the world and of the self. This only helps THE SERPENT ONLY LIES serve up extra helpings of ass kickings.
Opening single “Falling While Rising” is a lumbering animal of a tune, setting the tone for the album with slow burning riffs and classic doom harmonies. “I am the Storm” and the title track both amp up the tempo, the opening drums on the former recalling the war charge of “Conquering” and “Cemetery Angels”. “The Enemy Beside You” throws down the gauntlet by declaring “If you grow a set of balls, you might just change your life”, which could well be the album’s mission statement. But as good as the angry stuff is, it’s the more nuanced tunes like the Trouble infused “Surviving the Abyss” and the sparse, desert melancholy of “Song of the Dunes” that really hit home the hardest.
If you’re a Crowbar fan, THE SERPENT ONLY LIES will put a smile on your face. Even with its throwback vibe, it doesn’t sound like a step backward from SYMMETRY IN WHITE. Quite the contrary; sometimes embracing your past is the ballsiest move you can make.