Kirk Windstein – Dream in Motion (eOne Heavy / Entertainment One, 24 January 2020)
Exactly twenty-five years and eleven months ago, on the 24th of March 1994, the sixth episode of the fourth season of Beavis and Butthead aired on MTV. That was the first exposure — for myself, and I suspect for many others who were teenagers at that time — to the music of Crowbar, as that episode included a portion of the New Orleanian sludge innovators’ “All I Had (I Gave)” video. (For the record, yes I do have a fairly good memory, but no I did not know all of those details off the top of my head; thank you to Wikipedia.)
Anyway, that day marked a pivotal moment in my music fandom. What I heard on that show prompted me to pick up a copy of the band’s self-titled 1993 album, and their blending of sheer heaviness with absolute raw emotion had me hooked for life. That combination is what has set the band apart from most of their peers and imitators over the years. And now after nearly a dozen albums with Crowbar (in addition to participating in a handful of other people’s projects over the past three decades) the founder, vocalist and guitarist Kirk Windstein, has released a solo record — eschewing some of the heaviness this time around, but retaining every bit of the passion and intensity.
In a way, Dream in Motion brings to mind another musical entry from my high school years: former (and future) Black Sabbath vocalist Ozzy Osbourne‘s 1995 solo outing Ozzmosis, in that there is a variety of moods and tones across its tracks. This includes some heavier (as in, loud, with metallic distortion) moments — such as the title track’s familiar heavy rock style, with Windstein‘s trademark husky vocals sounding far-off and echoey, like in Crowbar‘s cover of Led Zeppelin‘s “No Quarter“; “Toxic” which builds around a slowed-down version of a Reign-in-Blood– or Kill-’em-All-style riff; and the more introspective “Hollow Dying Man” which, as its title implies, expresses a feeling of utter desolation similar to many of the singer’s main band’s songs.
As shown in much of the material here, that sense of ‘heaviness’ can also mean fraught with emotion — along the lines of a “Nothing Else Matters,” for example. Again, the Ozzmosis comparison comes up, with numerous fanciful or dreamlike sequences, illustrated by jangly (almost poppy — at least when compared with the heavy metal both vocalists are typically associated with) guitar sounds. Of course, the main distinction between the two would be that in Osbourne‘s case, just like in his original band, he mainly served as only the singer for a set of songs written by his guitarist or other band members — while Windstein has always been a principal songwriter and a lead musician in his primary group, roles that have expanded as a solo artist (since he performs everything you hear on Dream in Motion with the exception of the drums, added by producer Duane Simoneaux).
Nearing the end of the album, with “Necropolis” we seem to reach the pinnacle of sorrowfulness, but this leads straight into “The Ugly Truth” which closes out the album proper with a more uplifting tone (almost in a “Wind of Change” sort of way). As a bonus, the metal icon tackles Jethro Tull‘s immortal classic “Aqualung” — almost entirely faithfully, and with absolute reverence to the original version.
You can find Dream in Motion available for digital download, unlimited streaming, or in CD or vinyl formats right here.
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