Crime Records

Monday, June 2, 2014

Cowbar - Symmetry in Black Review

Band: Crowbar
Album: Symmetry in Black
Label: Century Media / E1 Music
Genre: Sludge Metal
Country: USA

Release Date: May 26, 2014

My first listening impression of Crowbar's "Symmetry In Black" was, "Wow." I did not expect to enjoy this album as much as I did.Imagine 1 part stoner and 1 part sludge with a slick of psychological doom. This album is dark, as if the sludge had putrefied into a thick,black smear of rot.

There is continuity to the songs. Each 1 is different, yet Crowbar has created a symphony with 12 movements.The tracks are loaded in an order that evokes the torment of Alice In Chains "Dirt",but this is the evolved version. There is no suicide watch.Instead, this is the album that reads the obituaries every morning to see which of it's peers they have outlived. It is a wise and devious album. Think of  "Sever The Wicked Hand" only deeper, jaded, and impossible to fool.
"Walk With Knowledge Wisely" sets the tone. Sludgy guitars introduce the album with a dark, minor scale set over a percussive groove. We're told to "walk with knowledge wisely / you don't have to die / put an end to what poison's you." Everything matches. The tone, the sound, and the lyrical theme. The percussion is technical yet catchy. There is no fussiness or pretensions in any of the songs: "A Wealth Of Empathy" , "The Taste Of Dying" , "Reflection Of Deceit" , and "Shaman Of Belief", Here we catch flavors of Motorhead and Black Label Society with interesting time-changes and dueling guitars peppered without.
Perhaps my favorite song is "Teach The Blind To See" and not because it's technically or artistically more appealing then the others, but because this is where self-awareness of Crowbar's artistic evolution is most evident to me. "Into freedom I lead you / know I'm not the enemy / I can teach the blind to see / just believe and follow me / this becomes a legacy."
Fortunately, there is a variety that pleases as Crowbar ventures into some trippier territory with "Symmetry In White", "Amaranthine", and "The Foreboding." These songs have a psychedelic tone without interrupting the flow of the album. The vocals are seething and atmospheric while each of the instruments contributes to the whole. This is a united front.
For those of you who enjoy a thrashier, faster sound, Crowbar provides 2 well placed tracks in "The Ageless Decay" and "Symbolic Suicide." These songs pick you up and throw you against the wall just to make sure you're still alive and that Crowbar hasn't lost their edge. The album wraps up with a instrumental dirge to tie up any thematic loose ends. In "The Piety of Self-Loathing" is found the perfect, mournful finish.
I commend Crowbar for this effort and for sharing their evolution as sludge metal veterans. There is alchemy to this album, as if some ancient art were blended into a sonic balance. The achievement of such an effect with music is a sign of mastery.

1. Walk with Knowledge Wisely
2. Symmetry in White
3. The Taste of Dying
4. Reflection of Deceit
5. Ageless Decay
6. Amaranthine
7. The Foreboding
8. Shaman of Belief
9. Teach the Blind to See
10. A Wealth of Empathy
11. Symbolic Suicide
12. The Piety of Self-Loathing

Total Playing Time: 48:04


Robbie A. Brown