Symmetry In Black
26 May 2014
by Rob McAuslan
For all of Kirk Windstein’s dalliances with Down and Kingdom Of Sorrow, all anyone really wants to know about his output boils down to these couple of questions: when is the new Crowbar album out, and does it still sound like Crowbar? The answers to these are usually “sooner than you think” and “oh, most definitely”. Ten albums into a twenty-five year career, is just “being Crowbar” enough?
There still isn’t anyone else out there that sounds quite like them, after all – Windstein’s knack for melding mournful, crushing heaviness and head-busting hardcore power into a colossal wall of soulful, doom-soaked riffing seems destined to be a true one-off. Whilst this means Crowbar records all sound fundamentally the same, there’s not much wrong with having a sonic signature as distinctive as they possess.
Symmetry In Black this is far from a showcase of genre-warping experimentalism, instead sounding like a statement of stubborn, limitless self-belief. Wielding easily the clearest and punchiest production of all their releases and a vocal display from Windstein that ranks among the best work he’s ever put in behind a mic, Symmetry In Black flashes the same sort of arrogant confidence in its own sound that Crowbar so ferociously displayed in their early days. Where the mid-period albums like Equilibrium dwelled a little too deeply in the introspection that helps define Crowbar, there was far less of the aggression that powered Obedience Through Suffering up through Odd Fellows Rest, and the return of this extra rawness and pace is more than welcome.
Symmetry In Black holds few surprises for anyone that’s heard much Crowbar at all. Kirk’s voice is pitched a little higher than the growls of the Broken Glass-era, and the lyrics are more positive than probably ever before, but otherwise it’s broadly business as usual – heavy riffing (and oh what riffs!) backed by a solid yet unspectacular rhythm section, predictable yet satisfying writing with proper choruses and everything, and the hands-down nastiest palm-muted chugs outside of an Asphyx show combine with that always-disarming melodic bent and keen sense of dynamics to make for another solid entry in a reliably-great catalogue. It doesn’t match their magisterial best, but Symmetry In Black recaptures enough of the savage beauty Crowbar commanded in their pomp for it to sit more than comfortably at the side of their classics.
Sounds Like: Crowbar got a bit angry again after years of moping about.
Standout tracks: The Taste Of Dying, Ageless Decay, Symbolic Suicide.