Kirk Windstein - Dream in Motion
E1 Music
10 songs (43:51)
Release year: 2020
E1 Music
Reviewed by Goat

Best known as frontman of NOLA sludge icons Crowbar, Kirk Windstein is long familiar to metal circles, and this debut solo record is a chance to get under his skin a little better. Sure, his time in Crowbar has documented such personal topics as addiction and faith, and it's not hard to come away from initial listens to Dream In Motion wondering why it wasn't just put out under the Crowbar name. It certainly sounds like them, from Kirk's bluesy, gritty voice to the sludgy guitar itself; he sings, plays guitar and (that familiar almost physical, clanking) bass, and is joined by his day band's Duane Simoneaux on drums and as producer. Yet Dream In Motion lacks the general headbanging drive that is a signature part of the Crowbar sound in favour of something a little gentler and more reflective. Only Toxic (not a Britney cover, alas) really has something of that Crowbarian vim to it; other pieces have more of a psych rock feel to them, far more mellow in both riff and vocal inflection.

The temptation, then, is to describe this gentler take on sludgy doom as more of a personal, introspective listen, for sipping whiskey to rather than headbanging, and much of Dream in Motion would bear this out. From the opening title track onwards there's a simple, honest intensity to the doom here that builds on Crowbar's working class sludge vibe, the riffs and beats direct and utterly without any of the proggy experimentalism that the band have sometimes diverted towards. Hollow Dying Man's subtle backing keyboards are about as out-there as it gets, adding a nicely melodic touch to the overall melancholic doom-rocking which admittedly is solid enough to bear the brunt of the songwriting weight. And although the guitar playing is generally melodic enough to keep your attention, Once Again's lead moments the clear highlight of it and multiple other tracks, it can all feel a little repetitive.

Fortunately each song flows from its predecessor quite well and drives the album onwards, even as, say, the languid beauty of Enemy in Disguise or The World You Know shows off a stripped-down doom sound just as effective as any Crowbar crusher. Kirk is a good enough songwriter for the album to stay interesting for those used to heavy music of this nature, not least by throwing in variations like the aforementioned heavier Toxic. This is followed by soulful instrumental The Healing, where the grandiose riffs reach peak My Dying Bride-esque impact - you can see the shared doom DNA at work. The most intriguing point arrives thereafter as The Ugly Truth heads for alt-grungy territory with a shift towards more Alice In Chains-esque territory, something that could have been built on much more without detracting from the overall vibe. And of course, that closing cover of Jethro Tull's Aqualung is enough of a leftfield turn to make the album feel more adventurous than it actually is, the playful touch of the original coming through well and ending things on a high point. All in all, Dream in Motion is hard to criticise but also hard to be too enthusiastic about; a boringly solid album that could have been terrific with more experimentation. The personality and style of its creator come through perfectly, though; this is Kirk Windstein, intense and straightforward as ever, a perfect solo album in that respect if not others.

Killing Songs :
Dream in Motion, Enemy in Disguise, The Ugly Truth
Goat quoted 70 / 100
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