I’ve always been a fan of certain scenes in Metal. From New York Death Metal to Norwegian Black Metal, it seems that certain geographical areas produce particularly lethal heavy music as competition fuels creativity and expression across the board. Without a doubt, my personal favorite scene would be NOLA. Since first visiting the city when just a kid in high school, I’ve been taken with that place. Nowhere else in the country can one find such a rich cultural heritage evidenced by such an amazing cross-section of diversity among people, food, and music. That swampy magic that is gifted to natives has fueled the careers of so many great bands: Eyehategod, Acid Bath, Soilent Green, and of course, Crowbar to name but a few. Crowbar has been one of my favorite bands since first hearing them in the mid-90s and are one of the very few bands I never seem to tire of. Not only did the band forge a sound based around an unprecedented heaviness, but Kirk Windstein, founder, guitarist, and vocalist, proved early on that not only can he write killer songs but the highest attention to detail is given to each album’s creation so that every release builds upon the last and quality is never sacrificed for quantity.
With such a storied career playing in both Crowbar and Down, Kirk has established a timeless legacy. One may wonder why he took so long to release a solo project, but with such an active touring schedule and other responsibilities, the timing needed to be right. It is, and it shows. Some may have preconceived notions about what Dream in Motion will sound like, but assuredly, it will decimate expectations. These are quality, killer songs albeit more mellow than the standard fare one anticipates. In no way, though, is this boring, weak, or self-indulgent.
The title track opens things up with a dreary haze like the feeling of being in the middle of the French Quarter on a hundred-degree day right after a rain shower. Murky would be an apt term and though it isn’t as aggressive as Crowbar, the seminal guitar player’s tone is retained intact if perhaps just dialed back a bit. The chorus booms with the haunting vocal melody dressed somberly against the music. “Once Again,” the third track, has a relaxed shuffle type of feel. A mellower offering, it still feels like Kirk through and through.
As Dream in Motion plays along, the listener is treated to what amounts to be an introspective Doom Metal album in which Kirk unashamedly bares his souls with the wisdom of a master and the vision of a pioneer. It is a record that sounds like a vehicle for exorcising myriad personal demons, tragedies, and loss. One might wonder why Kirk would release a solo album when there is a new Crowbar due later this year, but this is not a Crowbar album! One must strike while the iron is hot and answer the muse. This is a collection of personal songs that traded the crushing riffs of his main band for a more subdued, layered sound steeped in raw emotion. Simply put, it’s more gloom than aggro. The production is top-shelf. While the riffs are tone down a bit, the bass absolutely rages underneath with a punishing raw sound that gives just the right amount of dirt to fill up the sound properly.
On the fourth track, “Enemy in Disguise,” Kirk’s vocals resonate deeply with ample clarity. The track has a woeful sense of forlorn, that uneasiness that pervades even the most subdued songs from Sabbath. Kirk has never tried to hide his love for 70s Rock; thus, it isn’t hard to believe he covered Jethro Tull’s “Aqualung” for the final track. After all, Crowbar covered Gary Wright’s “Dream Weaver” and Led Zeppelin’s “No Quarter”. Naturally, the Jethro Tull sound is beefed up quite a bit but overall, the original is faithfully reproduced. The vocals on the song truly shine showing Kirk’s naturally cogent vocal talent, a trait not properly analyzed by most in the wake of his classic signature guitar sound.
For three decades now, Kirk Windstein has been working tirelessly toward perpetuating a sound that defines heavy. As an avid fan of the man’s guitar playing and style, I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss the abrasive, tenacious palm-muting of his signature tone. Crowbar is the bar for slow, brooding, cathartic Southern Sludge, yet that is not to say it was not an enjoyable or memorable experience I had with the album. Dream in Motion fits into a different corner of the spectrum, but it is a side of Kirk rarely glimpsed in Crowbar, nonetheless, true to his roots. To put it bluntly, there is nothing shocking here but rather, it is ultimately pleasing to hear a legend vent musically and create an album that further expands his repertoire as such.