Directed by Mike Holderbeast (Exhorder/High on Fire) what you see (and hear) from “Crowbar from New Orleeeaanns!” third slab of live streamage is what you’d expect to get… Crowbar playing a bunch of songs in an empty bar.
A swirl of distortion, a nod, a four-count, and with minimal fuss ‘Self-inflicted’ from the Sludge Metal veterans twenty-eight-year young debut kicks things off, chunkier than a monkey after a ten-day carb binge. This is immediately followed by partner in grime ‘High Rate Extinction’; a weighty opening pairing, with 2005’s ‘New Dawn’ following third, a performance so tight it comes out loose and low-slung.
As a spectacle, it is fair to say Crowbar aren’t the most visually stimulating, but their take on the medium is reflective of their approach to most things throughout their career, eschewing the trappings and flappings and glitter guns of others to bring us down-to-earth, good-to-honest Sludge Metal. The term “no-frills” could have been invented for these behemoths.
There’s minimal interaction from Kirk Windstein – though this is probably a good thing as when he does indulge, he is caught in between the two worlds of pretending there is a room full of sweaty animals whipping their manes all cheering his incitements and being aware he is talking to a camera in a quiet room, so for the main our visuals are four band members getting serious with their instruments, nodding along, interspersed by the song-titles.
What quickly becomes apparent is that, as slickly shot as this is – and credit to Holderbeast as this is well-produced, at all times looking like a promo video – you don’t really need to watch the stream, and you could easily have stuck on a ‘bar playlist as these are consummate grizzled professionals – every song is album perfect, even ‘New Man Born’, apparently the first time live bassist Shane Wesley has performed the Odd Fellows Rest deep cut with the band.
Elsewhere, ‘The Lasting Dose’ is viscous and methodical, ‘Conquering’ and ‘Walk With Knowledge Wisely’ highlight the harmonious interplay between Windstein and Matt Brunson that enhances several of their tracks, while on ‘Cemetary Angels’ Tommy Buckley gives us his “best fucking Motorhead beat,” before the second half of the song brings a stately bruising.
Whether the live stream continues as a format in a post-COVID world (and I suspect, in some guises at least, it will), it will probably be either better served with more embellishments and frippery than you get from these legendary sludgemeisters. Code Orange and Trivium have had great success with high production and/or special event sets, while Devin Townsend has mastered the art of one man and a backing track stream, but with the return to live music still months away, Kirk and the boys streaming themselves running through hits and hidden gems from their arsenal certainly scratches an itch, even if it doesn’t provide the salve.
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