October 14, 2016 Crowbar Steamrolls New Jersey 9-27-16
Sludge Masters Crowbar have been creating and defining their genre since their inception nearly three decades ago. Churning out their own unique brand of Doom, Sludge, and Metal, Crowbar rose out of the New Orleans, Louisiana scene; a scene which also spawned the likes of Eyehategod, Down, Exhorder, Acid Bath, Soilent Green, Goatwhore, Kingdom of Sorrow, and Graveyard Rodeo, just to name a few. Sustaining changes along the way, Guitarist/Vocalist Kirk Windstein now leads Crowbar with fellow founding member, Bassist Todd “Sexy T” Strange, who recently returned to the band after a sixteen year absence. Joining them is Drummer Tommy Buckley; who joined in 2005, and more recently, Guitarist Matthew Brunson; who came on board in 2009. Windstein could not be happier with the reappearance of “Sexy T,” stating, “Todd helped start the band, so having him back is important to me and, I think, the fans.” He continued, “It’s a great feeling to be standing onstage next to him. It’s a breath of fresh air for the band and makes us stronger.”
Rejuvenated, Crowbar has been touring in honor of the 20th anniversary of their standout 1996 release, Broken Glass. Not to mention, on October 28th, they will be releasing their eleventh studio offering, The Serpent Only Lies; an album Windstein credits influence from Broken Glass. With plenty to celebrate, the Sludge-fest commenced on September 13th in Chattanooga, Tennessee before the tour rolls through the eastern portion of United States and concludes in Houston, Texas on October 23rd. Thereafter heading overseas for shows in Italy and Hungary, on Tuesday, September 27th, they made a stop at Dingbatz in Clifton, New Jersey, hosting a killer performance.
A bill dressed with local area Metal acts including Lincoln, New Jersey’s White Void, Patchogue, New York’s False Gods, and Saddle Brook, New Jersey’s Voidless. Each band gave the night a great start with memorable original sets. Next, Clifton, New Jersey’s own Skunk Daze took the stage and gave the audience their eclectic mix of Reggae, Ska, Experimental, and Punk. The crowd was intrigued as the band moved between styles and genres from one song to the next. Receiving a strong response to their interesting music, vocal harmonies, and fun vibe on songs like “Crooked Spine,” and “Shades,” Skunk Daze is a band to watch.
Lastly, MantisMass, from Rockland County, New York, was the perfect choice to provide direct support for the legendary Crowbar. Not only is MantisMass a dirty, nasty Doom band, but they also have a personal connection with Crowbar with their Drummer Ray “Jelly” Majewski appearing in the music video “The Cemetery Angels,” off the 2011 album Sever the Wicked Hand. The story goes, after reaching out to Crowbar on social media, Majewski and Windstein became friends, and the rest is history. In fact, Windstein could be seen photographing Majewski and MantisMass from the crowd at Dingbatz during their set.
Comprised of Guitarists Joe Sanci and Alex Glasser, Bassist Sarah Reinold, and Majewski, this Stoner, Doom Metal outfit performed their instrumental 2016 debut EP, Eye is a Flytrap. Starting with “Weeping Dogs;” a heavy track filled with interesting shifts in feel and intensity, the growing crowd reacted strongly and they continued to show the band love throughout “Flightless Animals,” “Appalachian Dirt Dance,” and “Eye is a Flytrap;” a song Sanci dedicated to his brother, stating that if it was not for all of his Black Sabbath records growing up, he would not be on that stage. Closing with “Time is a Bastard,” Majewski was rock solid as he and Reinhold anchored the bottom while Sanci and Glasser added complex riffs to the mix. MantisMass brought a strong set of compelling instrumental Doom Metal that left the crowd buzzing long after it was done.
After a long list of supporting acts, it was time for the mighty Crowbar to tear the house down. With that, Windstein took center stage, overlooking those gathered, and declared, “We are Crowbar from NOLA and we are going to clean your clock.” Staying true to the proclamation, the band slammed into “All I Had (I Gave),” immediately spawning a churning pit. The aggression continued with “High Rate Extinction;” an older piece off their 1993 self-titled record. Anxious to keep the energy going, Windstein growled, “Let’s keep this thing rolling” as the band moved into “The Lasting dose.” A slower, more deliberate, Doom track with slick guitar harmonies “…Dose,” had the crowd throwing their fists up and singing along with Windstein. Following up with “New Dawn,” Windstein told the crowd how much the band loved playing at Dingbatz and in New Jersey, asking them if they were having a good time. The crowd respondEd positively to the question, as Crowbar continued with the groove heavy track from 2005’s Lifesblood for the Downtrodden. With heads banging slowly, Buckley was thudding and bashing his giant drums, providing the engine throughout the set until the band stopped for only a brief moment.
Taking a brief breath, Windstein dedicated the next song to Majewski and his dad, who was also in attendance. He continued by saying “Let’s build a mountain!” with his guitar ringing out, the crowd erupted for “To Build a Mountain.” Kicking them in the face, deep, heavy, down-tuned chords filled the venue with everyone feeling the crushing power of Crowbar. Going on to praise longtime Drummer Buckley for his ability behind the kit, Windstein lead the way into “The Cemetery Angels.” Staring into the crowd, Windstein seeked out his friend in Mantis Mass saying, “You like that one Majewski ?” acknowledging Majewski’s role in the official music video.
Becoming more powerful as the night moved on, “T-Sexy” Strange was a pillar of low end, providing thick bottom as they pounded out “Walk with Knowledge Wisely.” Then came a request for the band’s cover of “Dreamweaver,” from Crowbar’s 2000 album, Equilibrium. Responding to the fan request, Windstein said that they all wanted to do it except for Drummer Buckley, who was against it. From there, he gave the crowd a twenty second solo performance of the cover raising hopes until he abruptly stopped. Laughter rose from the crowd, but it was time to get back to the Sludge, so the band finished strong with “Existence is Punishment.” With still more to offer, in a nod to the 20th anniversary of Broken Glass, “Like Broken Glass,” “Conquering,” and “Planets Collide” were played to the delight of fans. Finally, responding to the urging of the crowd, Crowbar performed an encore of Led Zeppelin’s “No Quarter,” closing out a heavy and powerful set.
Delivering a tight performance of their heaviest music to a huge crowd of loyal fans, Crowbar brought their A-game. Interestingly, there was an absence of any songs from the new record in the set. This is because Crowbar has decided to keep it under wraps until the album’s official release on October 28th, citing a desire to keep low quality video recordings from making their way onto the internet. A smart move, Windstein would rather fans get to hear the new record the way it was meant to be heard. So sit tight, everyone will get to hear The Serpent Only Lies performed live very soon. Until then, look for Crowbar as they continue to crush audiences night after night.
Photo credit: Sarah Struges