Crowbar - _Odd Fellows Rest_
(Mayhem/Fierce, 1998)
by: Paul Schwarz (9 out of 10)
So, a new album from what, to my mind, is New Orleans' finest musical export. Crowbar have not yet attained the success that I always felt records with the strength of _Crowbar_ and _Broken Glass_ would, and should, have brought them. _Odd Fellows Rest_ could now justifiably take them to that next level. I don't mean to imply that Crowbar have "sold out" or even unwittingly made their sound substantially more accessible; it is just that _Odd Fellows Rest_ is 1) very good, and 2) more atmospheric, diverse and melodic than their previous efforts. Both things open the band to a wider audience. Though tracks such as "... And Suffer as One" or "It's All in the Gravity" retain the heavily Sabbath-influenced, downtuned form of heaviness that Crowbar have perfected and become noted for. Tracks such as these are now far from all that Crowbar are about. Crowbar have moved into new and more diverse territory with songs such as "Planets Collide", "December's Spawn" and specific sections of songs such as "Scattered Pieces Lay", that mixes their previous style with more melodic vocals and almost catchy riffs, which in turn augment the music's greatness and produce a truly remarkable album. Kirk Windstein's insightful lyrics are as beautifully depressive and brilliant as ever, with such sublime and subtle metaphorical passages as "You've been baptized in a lake of tears, crucified yourself with your own fears" occurring frequently throughout the album's 54 minute running time. It is interesting to note also that this is Crowbar's fifth full length, for, if we are to continue the minor Sabbath comparison, it was on Sabbath's fifth release, _Sabbath Bloody Sabbath_, that they truly outdid themselves, at least in my opinion; and if we look even deeper, much of that album's brilliance revolved around the increased use of melody it contained. Jumping 25 years ahead to the present, what is so gratifying is that, although to the narrow minded Crowbar may have "wimped out", they have in fact done quite the opposite. Part of _Odd Fellows Rest_'s charm is that its melody and creepy, atmospheric riffs and bass lines create a sound which is heavy in a quite different, and in some ways more extreme, manner.

(article published 1/9/1998)

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