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'Symmetry In Black'
(Century Media)

Johnny Main

johnny main


American sludge Metal band Crowbar hail from New Orleans and were formed in 1988. The band's sound is generally slow and heavy numbers which often contain gloomy or despondent lyrics.

The band are, however, seen as one of the most influential sludge Metal bands and have influenced a new breed of doom Metal band and are routinely mentioned alongside the likes of Pantera, Black Label Society and, of course, Down (of which Kirk Windstein was a member of until last year) – fine company indeed.

'Symmetry in Black' is the band's tenth studio album and contains twelve tracks that just confirm their place at the high end of the sludge Metal genre. 'Walk with Knowledge Wisely' kicks off the album in fine style with a solid guitar riff that cuts through the sound like a sledgehammer through a plate glass window. Front man Kirk Windstein gives a superb performance as he hangs onto some of the longer notes without his voice wavering at all.

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The slow pace is something you almost expect from the band, but it allows guitarist Matthew Brunson to give an equally measured performance during the solo and as opposed to filling it full of notes, he takes a more relaxed attitude to his playing which benefits the song.

Likewise, 'Reflection Of Deceit' can is the antithesis of slow, moody and devastatingly heavy. There seems to be a great lead guitar track here, but it's almost buried under the main guitar riff during the chorus which is a shame as it's a really good guitar track and doesn't deserve to be overshadowed in the mix – but you can't have everything I guess.

The scant vocals from Windstein means this is a track which shows how musically tight the band are, and they don't need to add vocal lines for the sake of it. When he does sing, though, Windstein does sound deliciously evil.

Crowbar don't need to fill every song with lyrics, though, and this is demonstrated best with 'The Piety Of Self-Loathing' which is the albums only fully instrumental track and it's one of my favorites on here. There's a slow fade up to track which is had the band in full swing by the time the sound settles down. This actually sounds more like a jam than a structured pre-planned song.

The main guitar riff gives way to a solo which is characteristically slow and measured and the song as a whole feels slightly less doomy and moody than some of the other tracks on the album, but all in all, well worthy of inclusion on the album and it's a great way to end it.

'Amaranthine' is the sole acoustic number here with a great vocal performance from Windstein once again. The track is reminiscent of 'Solitude' from Black Sabbath's 1971 masterpiece, 'Master Of Reality'. There is a touch of echo to the vocals which gives it an unearthly quality and the acoustic guitars match the simplicity of the single vocal track making this a real stand out track and no mistake. This is the type of song that should be played on rock radio and can bring Crowbar to a wider audience, and if you haven't heard the band before – I'd recommend that you start here.

It's not all slow and doomy tracks here, though, as we're treated to 'Ageless Decay', which is without a doubt, the fastest song on the album. Kicked off with a simple count in from drummer, Tommy Buckley, there's no stopping the band as they pile through the track. The vocals are much further up on the mix here in comparison to some of the other tracks, giving the whole track a much more Heavy Metal quality while the subject matter isn't exactly the happiest but then if you know Crowbar, you'll be aware that they've never sold themselves on the upbeat lyrical content of their songs, have they?

'Symmetry In Black' Track List:
Walk with Knowledge Wisely
Symmetry in White
The Taste of Dying
Reflection of Deceit
Ageless Decay
The Foreboding
Shaman of Belief
Teach the Blind to See
A Wealth of Empathy
Symbolic Suicide
The Piety of Self-Loathing

Crowbar are:
Kirk Windstein – Vocals/Guitars
Matthew Brunson – Guitars
Jeff Golden – Bass Guitar
Tommy Buckley – Drums

Crowbar Online:

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