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Crowbar: Bleeding For Metal

In 2005, the New Orleans sludge masters were helping to spearhead a metal revival. Metal Hammer found out more about their love of Sabbath and the Down connection

At this time of year, the stench on the streets of New Orleans is fucking unbearable. At the end of February, Mardi Gras – the ultimate legal expression of hedonism, decadence and debauchery – rocked through The Big Easy, and the locals are still clearing the debris from the streets. Across the Atlantic in dear old Blighty, thousands of miles away from the sub- tropical heat of the burgeoning swamp city and its ties to voodoo,vice and vampires,the sprawling urban expanse of Birmingham is getting a make-over. The post-industrial landscape of the West Midlands is undergoing a face-lift to bring it in line with its more cosmopolitan European counterpart cities.

On the surface, these two renowned areas couldn’t be more different. Yet, if you peer between the cracks you’ll quickly realise that New Orleans and Birmingham share a common bond – they have both been the breeding grounds for the world’s heaviest, sludgiest doom metal bands. Birmingham, as we all know, gave us Black Sabbath – the godfathers of heavy metal. But it was the New Orleans scene that kept that legacy from being annexed to the annals of history.

Let’s look back 15 years or so to the late 80s/early 90s. Black Sabbath weren’t releasing great albums. They had Tony ‘The Cat’ Martin on vocals (he was no Ozzy Osbourne – he wasn’t even a Ronnie James Dio!) and poodle haired ex-member of Whitesnake, Neil Murray, on bass. It was almost as if they were limping around under their once proud moniker, and it was easy to see why the press had tuned out and switched off. Sad, but true.

Over in New Orleans, a young heavy metal singer by the name of Philip Anselmo was cutting his teeth with his band Pantera while his musical peers, bands like Eyehategod and Crowbar, were keeping the Sabbath dream alive by fusing the Brummie rockers' patented brand of super heavy riffs with Black Flag’s edgy aggression and The Melvins’ spasmodic time changes. In their own individual ways, each faction of the New Orleans scene

reminded the world of why Black Sabbath were THE quintessential heavy metal band. And, ironically enough, Pantera, Eyehategod and Crowbar became the darlings of the European metal press – the very same press who were ignoring Ozzy and Sabbath – who branded the New Orleans movement 'doomcore'.

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