ARTIST: CROWBAR + ALBUM: THE SERPENT ONLY LIES + LABEL: NUCLEAR BLAST + RELEASED: OCT 28, 2016
October 28, 2016 was a strong day for album releases. Along with releases by Testament and Whores., who we’ve also reviewed, New Orleans sludge titans Crowbar released their 11th album, The Serpent Only Lies. Dark, bleak, and angry, The Serpent Only Lies is Crowbar doing what they do best; which is pummeling your ears with the thick and heavy. Crowbar drags the listener through the Louisiana swamps they call home with the compassion of a death row executioner. Occasionally melodic, consistently brutal; The Serpent Only Lies is 45 minutes of unfiltered, unapologetic metal.
Opening track “Falling While Rising” is quintessential Crowbar. Slow, sludgy and then picking up the pace. “The Enemy Inside You” and album closer “As I Heal,” follow this template, but are exceptionally bleak. And “Surviving the Abyss” has a bit of a southern-metal guitar riff that would make Corrosion of Conformity jealous. The title track has some great giddy-up drumming and a Motorhead-like attack before it turns into a bluesy number, alternating between slow-fast-sludge with a thrash metal bridge thrown into the mix.
My favorite songs are “Plasmic and Pure” and “I Am the Storm.” “Plasmic and Pure” has a great riff and drum intro and “I Am the Storm” fits its title as various tempo changes swirl into a fast-paced and brutal assault. Other standouts include the mid-temp sludge of “Embrace the Night” and the gigantic riffage of “On Holy Ground.” The band doesn’t necessarily break any new ground on this album, but they do play around with some cool tempo shifts at unexpected times and a great layering of some clean guitar among the thick riffs that anchor most of the tracks.
If you dig sludge metal, nothing’s better than a good Crowbar record. The Serpent Only Lies is a great Crowbar record that I’ve been listening to constantly since it’s release. Get this album and then go see Crowbar on tour. While you’re there, convince them to come to Dallas soon. Finally, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention the fantastic album cover by Eliran Kantor. It perfectly sets the tone for this dark collection of songs.
– J. Kevin Lynch