ALBUM REVIEW: Crowbar – Zero and Below

From the swamps of Louisiana, legendary New Orleans sludgelords Crowbar return with another collection of songs so uncompromisingly heavy that each one arrives with its own gravitational pull. As entirely expected, Zero and Below (MNRK Heavy), the band’s twelfth full-length studio release pulls absolutely no punches, delivering even more high-quality riffage with the same single-minded determination that saw them smash their way onto the scene over thirty years ago.

The first thing which becomes abundantly clear is that time really has not mellowed Crowbar in any way. A crushing opener laced with Pantera riffs and Black Sabbath worship, ‘The Fear That Binds You’ hits the ground running, frontman Kirk Windstein‘s confrontational vocals laying waste to all. ‘Her Evil Is Sacred’ follows, its slow menace making the ground shake as you wonder how the band can keep unearthing so many monolithic riffs. The similarly seismic ‘Confess To Nothing’ chugs with a brooding, smoky lethargy, Windstein adding melodic intensity with his fearsome bellow while ‘Chemical Godz’ sounds like Sabbath teaching Slayer how to get stoned. ‘Denial Of The Truth’ begins with a smooth, drawled vocal while moving slowly enough to grow roots before striding purposefully to a powerful climax.

If ‘Bleeding From Every Hole’ doesn’t quickly become a live favourite then there really is no justice, the fearsomely melodic ‘It’s Always Worth The Gain’ is another lesson in brawling belligerence and if the ending to ‘Crush Negativity’ doesn’t get you banging your head until major suffering major muscular damage then literally nothing will. ‘Reanimating A Lie’ switches effortlessly between tempos before the album closes with the bruising title track, a five minute gut buster heavy enough to sink an ocean liner.

Sounding fiercely relevant while still brimming with old school resolve, Zero and Below ebbs and flows perfectly, no song outstaying its welcome and each one leaving you wanting more. Cohesive and solid, for a band in their fourth decade to still be able to generate this much energy and excitement from riffs which aren’t exactly known for their frenzied speed or technical wizardry is something special in itself.


Aided by Matt Brunson on guitar and a suitably chunky production courtesy of Duane Simoneaux, the combination of Tommy Buckley on drums and bassist Shane Wesley simply bulldozes everything in its way, squashing pretenders like a steamroller on an inescapable collision course. Gargantuan riffs, thunderous basslines, drums that will leave your ears ringing for days and vocals ranging from emotionally vulnerable to absolutely do not fuck with this, Zero and Below is yet another authoritative and assured victory for Crowbar.

Buy the album here:

9 / 10