Crowbar

Symmetry in Black

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In a genre as prone to flights of fancy as heavy metal, Crowbar have always felt like a grounding presence, anchored to reality with their seemingly impossible heaviness. Keeping up their good works, the New Orleans sludge metal masters return with their tenth album, Symmetry in Black, an exercise in consistency that proves the band is still up to the task after 25 years of brooding sonic devastation. The album finds the band shifting gears from the pummeling assault of 2011's excellent Sever the Wicked Hand to something slower (though with Crowbar that's a fairly relative term). Some things haven't changed, however, namely the powerful playing and singing of Kirk Windstein, whose anguished bellows and penchant for lumbering riffs continue to act as Crowbar's bellwether. While this consistency has been key to their longevity, what really makes Crowbar special is their relatability. When other bands are off telling tales of demons and black rituals, Windstein and company take on earthly woes like addiction and fearing our own mortality. Despite their delivery over a brooding, glacially paced riff, lines like "Reject the thought of losing what is mine/Ascend above your own demise," from "Reflection of Deceit," feel like they're meant to empower listeners rather than bring them down. Symmetry in Black is an album that shows us we don't have to waste our time fighting imaginary enemies, because the real world is plenty full of darkness that, much like Crowbar themselves, is always there.

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