Released: 2014, eOne Music
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
Twenty-five years and it seems Crowbar still haven’t put down that big ol’ chunk of metal they’ve long been hefting. Them’s some strong shoulders. Handy though because you might need it to prise open SYMMETRY IN BLACK like a sonically-leaden oyster, but what’s inside is perhaps collectively one of the biggest pearls of Crowbar’s career.
Now as much reported, Kirk Windstein has recently stepped away from Down, another multi-decade project of his partial making, to concentrate on Crowbar because as any good mother knows your baby never stops being your baby. No sorry Down, that’s not you.
Naturally with Down’s latest EP offering proving to be another good ‘un, there might be some people going “shit Kirk did you do the right thing?” SYMMETRY IN BLACK says yes. Very loudly. In a voice that’s tuned low and often speaks slow.
But not always – what makes SYMMETRY IN BLACK such an impressive slab is the diversity that has been woven into Crowbar’s classic sound. So whilst ‘Walk With Knowledge Wisely’ has been bottle-fed on Windstein and co’s doomy-melancholy, ‘Symbolic Suicide’ picks up the pace, hardcore style, before dropping you straight into the sludge. The closing moments of the song have the sonic feel of a concrete bellyflop.
Almost title-track ‘Symmetry In White’ continues Crowbar’s trend for crushing the life out of you, overlaid with a vocal performance that is like a lens has been held up to Windstein, and made everything clearer and more defined. Don’t worry though – his voice continues to sound like that of a man in a perpetual state of anguish. In fact the whole of SYMMETRY IN BLACK sounds about as crisp as Crowbar have, and probably ever will without losing some of that delightful sludginess. When you listen to Crowbar you want them to leave a trail behind, and not have someone wipe up all those footprints.
‘The Taste Of Dying’ and ‘Teach The Blind To See’ both have well-fed grooves, in contrast to ‘Amaranthine’ - a rough choral acoustic number, that sits in the place of a midway rest point which actually makes you want to stay awhile. Although different in their approach, both ‘The Foreboding’ with its odd high, dual-vocals, and ‘The Piety Of Self-Loathing’, which closes with four-minutes of instrumental subtext, remind you that music can say everything it needs to without any words.
Crowbar has never been a band to be babysitted, and SYMMETRY IN BLACK proves how given the full love and attention of all parents it can only grow stronger. And we suspect Windstein isn’t feeling too ‘down’ about that.
Review by Kirsty Birkett-Stubbs