If there is one band synonymous with the heaviest music on the planet it is Crowbar. Hailing from deep in the New Orleans metal scene alongside such luminaries as Eyehategod, Soilent Green and of course Down, the band have blazed a trail into the wider world with their own brand of sludgey goodness.
Frontman Kirk Windstein is one of the most recognisable faces in heavy metal with his trade mark long beard you can’t fail to spot him in a crowd. But along with this he is one of the most friendly ‘stars’ in the scene never shying away from the fans. Always willing to shoot the breeze over a cold beer with anyone who approaches him.
Tonight Crowbar roll into Birmingham on their UK tour and the venue is quite fitting. Mama Roux’s in Digbeth, one of the city’s trendy new bar’s, is set out like a New Orleans street with café’s and shop frontages lining the way to the small stage in the shadows at the far end of the room. Almost a home away from home for these boys.
Opening the night are Inter Arma, not on tour with Crowbar, but their touring paths seems to have crossed for this one show in Englands second city. The Virginians are on early, ripping Birmingham a new one with their brand of heavy, multifaceted mayhem. Their songs meld into each other perfectly, a tale being told throughout their angsty performance. Swathes of thick heavy melody intertwined with heavy riffs and progressive licks. It’s quite a performance which I hope to witness again soon.
Northern boys Ingested provide support for the whole tour. Describing themselves a “slamming death metal” I could have predicted their sound just from their name prior to the show and I am not far out. The come out of the blocks with a bang, ferocious guitars at full pelt, duelling for supremacy as the savage vocals of Jay Evans tear through your ear drums. For half an hour we experience death metal with a metalcore edge to deliver the “slamming” effect they describe.
The anticipation in the building rises as we prepare for Crowbar to enter the dimly lit stage. There is no razzmatazz or over the top showmanship, Crowbar are four guys playing heavy as hell music and that’s why we love them. Kirk enters the stage, horns raised and gives the city and its heavy metal history a eulogy before the band kick off with Conquering.
This is music low and heavy, bass tones that vibrate your very soul as Kirks gruff vocal style commands attention. Horns raised, heads bang and a small pit forms in the now packed house as the band canter through The Cemetery Angels, To Carry The Load and I Am The Storm.
Without the trappings and frills of a band seeking adulation, they storm through their set in what seems like minutes but is well over an hour. Planets Collide a firm favourite with the sweaty heaving masses and a finish of Scattered Pieces Lay and Broken Glass.
If you like your music powerful, sludge infested and to the point, an out and out heavy metal show, then tonight Kirk and his team delivered a masterpiece. As the fans drink with the band on into the night, music ringing in our ears, we can sleep happy in the knowledge Crowbar haven’t and will never, let us down.