Our top 10 Crowbar songs list looks at the catalog of a ground-breaking New Orleans-based band renowned for its sludge metal influence. A major portion of the band’s sound was fueled by the powerful rhythm guitarist and vocalist Kirk Windstein. At the time Crowbar came to be, New Orleans was popularly known by metal fans as a regional scene of the doom metal sound. Exhorder, established in 1985, is one of the notable doom metal acts from New Orleans.
However, New Orleans’ usual doom metal scene was about to experience an evolution in the early ‘90s. This was after several bands released music that was an amalgam of doom metal and hardcore punk sonic elements. The result was the birth of the sludge metal sound. Crowbar, Acid Bath, Corrupted, Grief, Buzzoven, The Melvins, and Eyehategod are some of the pioneering acts of the sludge metal sound in New Orleans.
Crowbar’s Career Beginnings and Breakthrough
After several trials to establish a band, Kirk Windstein led three other members in forming Crowbar. The three other members included drummer Jimmy Bower, lead guitarist Kevin Noonan, and bassist Todd Strange. Almost a year later, the band released its debut LP, Obedience thru Suffering, through Grind Core. The 1991 album catapulted the band neither to commercial nor mainstream success.
However, songs like “Subversion” brought some attention to the band, guiding it to sign a recording contract with Pavement Music. Before releasing its sophomore LP, the band welcomed drummer Craig Nunenmacher (later a member of Black Label Society) to its lineup after the departure of Jimmy Bower. In October 1993, the band released its sophomore LP, Crowbar. The band’s eponymous sophomore LP was a success having it feature internationally recognized singles including “Existence Is Punishment” and “All I Had (I Gave).”
Crowbar was produced by Phil Anselmo, former lead singer of the bands Pantera, Down, and Superjoint. Phil was also a childhood buddy to Crowbar’s rhythm guitarist and vocalist Kirk Windstein. The album sold over a hundred thousand copies catapulting the band to commercial and mainstream success.
Crowbar’s Album Releases over the Years
After the success of the band’s eponymous sophomore LP, Crowbar released its third studio album Time Heals Nothing in 1995. This ten-track sludge metal album was not as popular as the band’s sophomore LP. However, the album still managed to feature some outstanding releases including “Through a Wall of Tears” and “Lack of Tolerance.”
Crowbar would later issue its fourth LP, Broken Glass, in 1996. Broken Glass marked the band’s final studio album released through Pavement Music. The album featured additional vocals from the band’s former producer and friend Phil Anselmo. Broken Glass is home to ten tracks by Crowbar, among them, “Conquering” and “Little Broken Glass.” The album saw the band reunite with its founding drummer Jimmy Bower.
Following its breakaway from Pavement Music, Crowbar signed a recording contract with Mayhem Records. The recording contract was crowned with the release of the band’s fifth studio album, Odd Fellows Rest. Odd Fellows Rest is one of the highly invested-in albums by the band featuring three more musicians. Big Mike The Testices was featured as an additional backing vocalist while Sid Montz was tagged in for additional percussions. Ross Karpelman makes the third additional musician on the album, thanks to his impactful skills on the piano, organ, and keyboards.
Odd Fellows Rest also saw the band use the services of lead guitarist and backing vocalist Sammy Pierre Duet following the departure of Matt Thomas. The twelve-track album is home to some of the best Crowbar songs including “Planets Collide,” “New Man Born,” “Odd Fellows Rest,” and “To Carry the Load.”
The band would later release its sixth studio album, Equilibrium, in 2000. Equilibrium marked Crowbar’s last album with its original bassist Todd Strange until he returned to the band’s lineup in 2016. The album featured twelve tracks, two of which were covers of songs by Gary Wright and Iron Butterfly. Equilibrium marked the band’s first studio album released through Spitfire Records.
Crowbar returned in 2001 with its seventh LP, Sonic Excess in Its Purest Form. The album featured former Machine Head drummer Tony Costanza and bassist Jeff Okoneski. Sonic Excess in Its Purest Form also marked the last album released by the band with guitarist Sammy Duet. Some of the concert staples from Sonic Excess in Its Purest Form include “The Lasting Dose” and “To Build a Mountain.”
In 2005, the band released its eighth studio album, Lifesblood for the Downtrodden. The album was the band’s first album released through Candlelight Records. Lifesblood for the Downtrodden was dedicated to the memory of former Pantera and Damageplan guitarist Dimebag Darrell. The eleven-track album is home to some of the best Crowbar songs “Coming Down” and “New Dawn.”
Crowbar later issued its ninth studio album Sever the Wicked Hand in 2011. The album was issued through eOne Music and produced by the band’s vocalist Kirk Windstein. Unfortunately, the album failed to receive critical acclaim like most of the band’s releases. Three years after the release of Sever the Wicked Hand, Crowbar returned with its tenth LP, Symmetry in Black in 2014. Symmetry in Black is the only release to feature bassist Jeff Golden who went on to get fired in 2016. “Walk with Knowledge Wisely” is one of the biggest hits by Crowbar from the album.
The Serpent Only Lies, issued in 2016 marked the band’s eleventh LP. On this album, Kirk Windstein played the bass following the sacking of Jeff Golden. Kirk also did the production work for the album alongside Duane Simoneaux. Two months ago, released its most recent album, Zero, and Below. The album is home to some of the best Crowbar songs, including “Chemical Godz” and “Bleeding From Every Hole.”
Crowbar’s Other Musical Pursuits and Legacy
Other than Crowbar, Kirk Windstein helped start the heavy metal supergroup Down. Down’s lineup features former members of Pantera, Crowbar, Eyehategod, Goatwhore, and Corrosion of Conformity. Kirk Windstein later teamed up with Jamey Jasta of Hatebreed to form the heavy metal band Kingdom of Sorrow. For over thirty years now, Crowbar has been at the forefront of sludge metal and the heavy metal scene in general. Here we present the best Crowbar songs from its stack of impressive sludge metal records.
#10 – Bleeding from Every Hole
Opening our top 10 Crowbar songs list is the alluring hit “Bleeding from Every Home.” The song is among the latest release by the band from its 2022 studio album, Zero and Below. Crowbar’s vocalist and rhythm guitarist Kirk Windstein revealed that “Bleeding from Every Hole” showcases metaphorically the dark times many people go through.
The singer quoted that the dark moments can’t be any worse than “Bleeding from Every Hole.” One of the reasons the song really impacted Crowbar’s fans is its timing. The song came at the post-pandemic days when many were still experiencing the ripple effect of the Covid-19 pandemic. Its emotional expressions and crushing heaviness also add to the song’s greatness.
#9 – Odd Fellows Rest
“Odds Fellows Rest” is one of Crowbar’s landmark musical efforts in 1998. The song serves as the album title track to the band’s fifth studio album. Like most of the songs on the album, “Odd Fellows Rest” is one of the most memorable down-tuned melancholic releases. Despite its dark and slow vibe, the song features memorable heavy and melodic riffs. Both the song’s tune and title (named after a cemetery in New Orleans) make “Odd Fellows Rest” sound like a despair-filled dirge.
#8 – Through a Wall of Tears
The eighth spot on our top 10 Crowbar songs list goes to the ravishing hit “Through a Wall of Tears.” “Through a Wall of Tears” is one of the biggest hits from the band’s third studio album, Time Heals Nothing. The song comes after the band achieved success with its sophomore album. However, this is not the main reason that we feature it among the ten best Crowbar songs.
It is the bombardment of well-executed sludge metal sonic influences that make “Through a Wall of Tears” stand out from most of the hits on Time Heals Nothing. The song uses cleaner vocals by Kirk Windstein but maintains the band’s usual heavy sound. Among the standout performances on this hit is Nunenmacher’s moving drum rhythms.
#7 – To Build a Mountain
Sonic Excess in Its Purest Form, Crowbar’s seventh LP, saw the band charge up its heavy sound. This was achieved by adding more melancholy and sombreness throughout the album, but most specifically in songs like “To Build a Mountain.” Frontman and vocalist Kirk Crowbar adds to the song’s heaviness with his groans.
While the song starts with heavy riffs, its ending feels a bit tender thanks to its melodic harmony guitar parts by Kirk and Sammy Duet. “To Build a Mountain” is among the concert staples by Crowbar as necessitated by its energy-filled guitar riffs and heaviness.
#6 – All I Had (I Gave)
Number six on our top 10 Crowbar songs is the energetic hit “All I Had (I Gave).” The song is featured on the band’s 1993 eponymous sophomore album. “All I Had (I Gave)” kicks off with a hurtling thrash beat but soon after inclines to the Crowbar’s signature sludge metal sound. The song is among the rich classics that paved way for the band’s intense sludge metal sound.
“All I Had (I Gave)” oozes fury from both Kirk’s vocals and its instrumentation. Its upbeat punky feel adds to its catchiness and is probably one of the reasons the song received some airplay. “All I Had (I Gave)” received critical acclaim and international status after it was played severally on MTV. Hatebreed released a rendition of “All I Had (I Gave)” on its 2009 cover LP, For the Lions.
#5 – Little Broken Glass
After picking up momentum from its eponymous sophomore LP, Crowbar released a groundbreaking album Time Heals Nothing. Would Broken Glass continue the rising impact of Crowbar’s releases? This remains a disputed question by critics but one thing we can be sure about is the alluring sludge metal vibes replicated in recordings like the magnificent hit “Little Broken Glass.”
The song serves as the album title track to the band’s 1996 fourth studio album. Like most of the songs from the album, “Little Broken Glass” features raw emotions and power as depicted by Kirk’s vocals and its heavy instrumentation. The song’s awe-inspiring thunderous guitar riffs add to the song’s overall magnificence.
#4- The Lasting Dose
With just a few album releases, Crowbar had become one of the most dependable doom metal/sludge metal acts. Before its music became a cliché, the band released reinvigorating record, Sonic Excess in Its Purest Form. Sonic Excess in Its Purest Form is home to our number four pick for the best Crowbar songs, “The Lasting Dose.”
Filled with melancholy, the song serves as the opening cut to the sonically bolstered record Sonic Excess in Its Purest Form. Its alluring grooves serve as a green light to the album’s groundbreaking sonic upgrade. The song has been covered by the Louisiana-based sludge metal band Thou.
#3- Existence is Punishment
Our number three pick on the ten best Crowbar songs is the charming hit “Existence is Punishment.” The song is featured on the band’s genre-defining eponymous album. “Existence is Punishment” finds Kirk spitting hard some agonizing lyrics, with his vocals supplemented by the song’s hardcore riffs.
The song is among Crowbar’s that got massive airplay on MTV in 1993. “Existence is Punishment” is featured on the adult animated TV series Beavis and Butt-Head.
#2 – Walk with Knowledge Wisely
After the release of Sonic Excess in Its Purest Form, Crowbar struggled a bit to release a bigger recording than the album. However, the band issued an outstanding hit “Walk with Knowledge Wisely” in 2014. The song brought Crowbar back to glory in the sludge metal scene.
“Walk with Knowledge Wisely” serves as the lead track to the band’s tenth studio album, Symmetry in Black. The band’s vocalist Kirk Windstein revealed that the song possesses every element that makes up Crowbar’s signature sound. Heavy riffs and melodic feel on the solos on this release are its major selling point.
#1 – Planets Collide
Number one of our top 10 Crowbar songs is the band’s most popular hit “Planets Collide.” The song is featured on the band’s album, Odd Fellows Rest. Like most of the songs from the album, “Planets Collide” is packed with melancholic melodies. Kirk’s emotive yet haunting vocal delivery and performance stand out in this song.
However, the ultimate greatness of the song is manifested by the unsurpassed riffs packed in the song. Kirk’s rhythm guitar riffs provide “Planet Collide” with its unforgettable crushing melody. Amazing is an understatement in describing the song’s smashing outro riffs.
Feature Photo: Stefan Bollmann, Attribution, via Wikimedia Commons
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