28 August 2014

Crowbar - Symmetry In Black


Arise, the leviathan! It is great that this band have gotten back to releasing music more regularly.  After a break between 2005 & 2011 due to Kirk Windstein's activities with Down, the band have became more active again and Windstein has now left Down.  What is Down's lose is the gain for the world as Crowbar are a special band when it comes to Sludge Metal.  Over the years they have released some titian size records that have been breath taking.  For a man who is such a giant in the American Sludge scene, it is great to find out that he is actually a Brit by birth. This is the band's ninth studio album and has been produced by Windstein himself.  It was released in May 2014 and has been getting positive press around the globe; but this does not tend to influence us here, it is always the music that brings the results.  Time to see how the Sludge behemoth sounds on this album.

Starting with "Walk With Knowledge Wisely", Crowbar are showing that they are still in business and business is heavy.  Sounding like the waves of noise coming over you, it is a great introduction to the band if you have never heard them before.  It is a swirling riff monster that goes round and round till it has rooted in your head like an oak tree and will be as difficult to remove as well.  It is just a gigantic beast of a song which opens the album perfectly.  "Symmetry In White" is next and the sludge worship is in full flow at this point.  You are holding onto the side of your bucket heading towards hell, it is just a dark hymn to the bitter end and for sludge fans it will be a dark blessing in disguise.  "The Taste In Dying" is another sludge dogma that sounds like it has been kept in bourbon and weed for many years before being released onto the world.  It is a whirlwind of noise and riffs that keeps up the good work from the sludge legends.  "Reflection Of Deceit" is the fourth song off the album which brings the mood down in the most delightful way.  It is a slow burner in the best meaning of the words, it just toils across your soul like musical whips. Another sludge classic for the ages. 

"Ageless Decay" is another brilliant slice of sludge that will have the faithful in rapture.  At the risk of sounding like a broken record, it is so heavy that it feels like a brick being smashed against my face time and time again. It is one of those classic tracks that can define an album or period of a band's recording career.  When the main riff drops, it is a good as anything from Crowbar's past. Next is "Amaranthine" which slows the mood down, in a sort of Black Sabbath "Caravan" type-way.  It is the usual way of things with this sort of album; it is par of the course.  It is nice and dreamy, might not be the most important song on the album but it does give it a bit of diversity.  After this "The Foreboding" is like a slow relentless wave of ooze crawling over the land, it is taking its time to win the audience over and whilst it is not the most original of tunes it is still a brilliant song.  "Shaman Of Belief" is the eighth track here and is more that same from Crowbar, much in the same way that you have with Motorhead.  If it ain't broke there is no need to fix it; so whilst it sounds this intense.  Starting off slow and building towards a speedy middle bridge, before heading back to the slow sludge that is the band's trademark, the song is classic Crowbar.  It is done so simply and will be well received.

"Teach The Blind To See" continues the ground work that has been made on this album.  As stated before, the wheel is not being reinvented on this record; they are not making work that would make the great unwashed run away from their x-fashion/Direction pop acts; but for those people blessed with the gifts of style and taste it will be like a refreshing drink on a hot summer's day.  The more you listen to the music, the more hypnotic that the sound becomes.  Which makes "A Wealth Of Empathy" a little bit disappointing to be honest.  There is nothing specifically wrong with the song, but at this point it does feel like a filler track; no matter how well it is played it is not going to change your life.  "Symbolic Suicide" is a manic track in comparison to most of the album; with double bass kicks that would be more at home in a trash metal act it certainly , it is used to contrast the sludge chorus that are dropped without warning.  Ending the album is "The Piety Of Self-Loathing" which fades in from a sludge jam that has already been rumbling for years by the sounds of it.  By this point, you will know what to expect and it does not disappoint.  It ends the album in the best way for a sludge metal act, with a sound that will flatten mere mortals as they stand this is a really good instrumental.

Now, whilst I have been complementary, there are a few things on here I would like to mention.  Overall, the main reason I like this so much is that I am a massive fan of this type of music.  It connects to me in a way that I find truly mesmerising, but I do see that it is a very closed record in terms of appeal, I know that sounds weird but sometimes that is just the way of things.  It is not a musical boundary cross-over record and it knows this.  A few of the tracks whilst they are really powerful do start to merge with other tracks on the album.  But it has took me a long while to make up my mind with this album and I have to say that it is a brilliant record that will have fan boys like me really pleased; but it does seem to be one only for the faithful

8 out of ten - Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my money, time and heart

Top track - Ageless Decay

You can purchase the album from Amazon here

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You can listen to the album on Spotify here

Here is the link for our Deezer users

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