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News of Kirk Windstein’s departure from the ranks of Sludge Metal super-group Down a few months ago should not come as a great surprise to those who are aware of the common threads that run between the history of the aforementioned group and that of his brainchild Crowbar.

It was the success of 2011s “Sever The Wicked Hand” combined the departure of bassist Pat Bruders (he left to focus on Down back in 2013) which most likely helped convince the forty nine year old guitarist/frontman that he would be better off focusing the whole of his energy in the band he helped form back in 1989.

Well, all the signs suggest that Windstein made the right decision indeed, and by signs I am referring to no other than the twelve compositions that put together Crowbar’s tenth studio album “Symmetry In Black”.

Similarly to its predecessor, “Symmetry In Black” was recorded with the assistance of producer Duane Simoneaux and, though coming across as a tad darker in comparison, the quality of the sound achieved and the rhythmical variety which informs the twelve compositions on offer suggests that there is a sense of continuity which brings these two last Crowbar albums closer together.

When not bombarding us with groove laden, masterfully distorted riffs, Windstein leads the attack with the assistance of powerful vocals whose delivery ranges from angry/shouting outpours to serene/solemn soliloquies while newly-acquired bassist Jeff Golden and skins man Tommy Buckley add extra layers of thickness in the album’s already massive sound.

Focusing on a solid mid-tempo heavy riff, “Walk With Knowledge Wisely” introduces the album finely but things come to the boil seven or so minutes later, right after the mournful melodies and bombastic riffs of “Symmetry In White” have finally graced us with their presence.

Defying all rules and conventions relating to rhythm concerning Sludge Metal, “The Taste Of Dying” offers an interesting alternative while “Reflection Of Deceit” is another slow-tempo composition based on a beautiful funeral Doom melody.

The first half of the album concludes with two compositions of contradictory nature, the Punk informed “Ageless Decay” and the harmonic/moody ditto “Amaranthine” while the second half kicks off with another slow-tempo Doom Metal belter entitled “The Foreboding”.

If by this stage you have deprived yourselves from indulging in the ancient art of head banging, “Shaman Of Belief” will prove the fitting soundtrack for this sort of exercise while the duet “Teach The Blind To See” / “A Wealth Of Empathy” may take some pace from the album away but will, undoubtedly, add much to it in terms of heaviness and feel.

“Symbolic Suicide” is the second stylistically-challenging composition of the album which, nevertheless, blends in fairly easy with the rest of the compositions on offer while “The Piety Of Self-Loathing” adds a touch of sorrow in this emotionally mixed bag of an album.

We often hear seasoned Rock musicians discussing how successfully battling their substance addictions have benefited their music and, though we often take such information with a pinch of salt, in the case of Crowbar this certainly seems to be the case.

“Symmetry In Black” is the second album since Windstein stopped being alcohol-dependent and it is as heavy, angry and inspiring as any Crowbar fan would wish it to be. The band is already on the road in support of its latest musical offspring so book yourselves a ticket and bang your heads to the rhythm of these commanding new songs. You will not regret it!

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