June 11, 2014 by Dan Swinhoe
Kirk Windstein’s announcement that he was to leave NOLA supergroup Down to focus entirely on Crowbar was something of a surprise. But the reception that new album Symmetry In Black received from fans and critics alike showed that Windstein’s faith hadn’t been misplaced. Celebrating the band’s 25th year, Symmetry In Black is Windstein & Co.’s tenth album, following on from 2005’s excellent Lifesblood for the Downtrodden and 2011’s Sever the Wicked Hand. The tradmark Crowbar formula remains intact; leaden riffs and pained vocals combined with raw aggression.
Opening with the uptempo [for Crowbar] ‘Walk With Knowledge Wisely,’ we’re given a taste of controlled aggression with doom-laden choruses. Considering the band’s reputation, there’s a surprising amount of energy on show. Whether it’s ‘Symbolic Suicide’ or ‘Age Of Decay’, the whole album has a kind of positive vibe about it. Even the slower tracks such as ‘A Wealth Of Empathy’ or the lethargic ‘The Foreboding’ have a certain energy about them that keeps things feeling fresh.
Whether charging ahead on all cylinders with the likes of ‘Teach The Blind To See’ or wallowing in the lethargic misery of ‘Symmetry In White’, everything Crowbar do is massively heavy – ‘The Taste of Dying’ is probably the album highlight, mixing dirty grooves with a sorrowful yet melodic chorus. While there few surprises and no real standout tracks that can stand up to the likes of ‘Slave No More’ or ‘Planets Collide,’ the overall quality is still high and there’s little in the way of fat or self-parody. Crowbar retain the raw power and energy that make them so appealing, especially when so many other bands can sound tired after so many releases.
Though there’s been many pretenders, no one really sounds like Crowbar except Crowbar themselves, even after a quarter of a century.Though Symmetry In Black isn’t the best thing the band have ever released, it’s still a quality album full of energy and that trademark gloom that you come to expect.