Kirk Windstein spent many years in Down, but he has exited that band to focus exclusively on his longtime act Crowbar. Bassist Patrick Bruders, who was also in both bands, is no longer in Crowbar, replaced by Jeff Golden. The band’s latest album, their tenth studio effort, is ‘Symmetry in Black.’

Windstein’s singular focus pays off. The album continues the momentum of 2011‘s excellent ‘Sever the Wicked Hand,’ and also delves into Crowbar’s past. It gets off to a strong start with the crushing ‘Walk With Knowledge Wisely,’ a mid-tempo track with monstrous riffs and biting vocals from Windstein.

The tempo slows down and the doom rises on “Symmetry in White,” leveling everything in its wake. Crowbar like to vary the tempos, speeding up into a sludgy groove, backing down for a doomy interlude, then cranking things back up again.

No matter what the tempo or intensity, the riffs never stop flying. Windstein and Matthew Brunson shine throughout the album. There’s also a huge drum sound from Tommy Buckley, increasing the impact and heft of 'Symmetry in Black.’ Golden’s rumbling bass is perfectly placed in the mix.

The band did a nice job with song order, maximizing the album’s diversity.  Following the melancholy ‘Reflection of Deceit’ with the faster and angrier ‘Ageless Decay’ gives each of them more impact. There are other examples of that throughout the album.

There are a couple of song dedications on the record. The mellow, acoustic ‘Amaranthine’ is dedicated to Windstein’s wife Robin, and ‘Symbolic Suicide,’ one of the best tracks on the album, was inspired by the late, great Peter Steele (Type O Negative, Carnivore).

The proceedings close with the instrumental ‘The Piety of Self-Loathing.’ Anything but a brief outro, it’s a fully formed 4 minute track with everything you’d expect from a Crowbar song except for those gruff Windstein vocals.

‘Symmetry in Black’ is a well-rounded, well-written, well-played album from a band hitting on all cylinders. There are ups and downs in terms of tempo, texture and emotions, but the quality never varies.

4 Stars



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