Symmetry In Black Is A Welcome Return From Crowbar

Courtesy:  eOne Music

Courtesy: eOne Music

2014 has been quite the year for hard rock and metal.  New releases from the likes of Anti-Mortem, Fozzy, and Wovenwar have already highlighted an already busy year.  And new releases on the way from Machine Head, Exodus, and Slipknot before the year lets out are giving metalheads the world over even more reason to be excited.  If that’s not enough reason for the metal masses to be happy this year, then perhaps the latest full length studio release from Crowbar will excite some members of the metal nation.  The band released Symmetry in Black late this spring via eOne Music.  This latest record, the band’s ninth, presents some of the band’s best material to date.  One reason for the quality and heaviness of the songs on this record is the full focus of guitarist Kirk Windstein.  Having put his other projects on the side so as to give full focus to Crowbar, he sounds at the top of his game.  And along with his band mates—Matt Brunson (guitar), Tommy Buckley (drums), and Jeff Golden (bass)—the work of the New Orleans-based four-piece presents a band that is at the top of its collective game.  The songs on this album are impressive not just for their heaviness, but for their lyrical content.  The album’s opener ‘Walk With Knowledge Wisely’ is proof of that.  The same can be said of ‘Teach The Blind To See,’ which comes late in the album’s run.  ‘A Wealth of Empathy’ offers its own interesting lyrical content set against some rather heavy riffs, too.  The combination of this trio of just these three works shows how much Crowbar still has to offer audiences even today.  There are nine other songs on this record from which audiences can choose their own favorite(s).  In listening through those tracks and the songs noted here, audiences new and old alike will agree again that Symmetry in Black proves to be Crowbar’s best full length studio release to date.

Crowbar’s ninth full length studio release is some of the band’s best work to date as already noted. That is evident right off the top in the album’s opener ‘Walk With Knowledge Wisely.’ This song is a pure, heavy slab of southern sludge metal. Vocalist/guitarist Kirk Windstein is at the top of his game here, having put his other projects on the back burner for the time being. That pure, heavy sound set against the song’s thought provoking lyrics make it a hard-hitting return for the band. Windstein writes in this song, “My will cannot be broken/Cause when I rot I crawl back from the dead/I am the living proof/That you can right what is wrong in your head/The weak can always overcome/But only if they burn with desire.” Those few lines alone are empowering to say the very least. Their juxtaposition against the song’s dark, heavy sound makes them even more impactful. They become two polar opposites that together make a clear statement of determination and its payoff. As if that wasn’t enough of an example of the song’s message, Windstein goes on to write, “I am the living proof/That a soul can burn a thousand times/Accept what God has given you/And you’ll find the answer all around.” Don’t mistake that lien for Crowbar being a “Christian Band.” That’s hardly the case. It is simply Windstein and his band mates hammering home the fully positive message that it is possible to overcome so much of life’s negativity and difficulty. What better way to return after three years than with such a powerful musical and lyrical statement?

‘Walk With Knowledge Wisely’ is a powerful first statement from Crowbar on its new release. That’s because of the mix of its heavy sound and empowering lyrics. On the other side of things, a song such as ‘Teach The Blind To See’ will raise just as much conversation. That is thanks in large part to its lyrical content. Windstein writes in this song, “So many years so many words/Bringing honesty to you/Just follow me/You won’t regret/It’s what I do/I don’t forget/I’ll lead you to the truth.” One the one hand, one could argue that this is meant to be a social commentary of sorts. It could potentially be aimed at religious leaders whether they come from organized religion or from cults. The message would pretty much be the same regardless in that case. Making for even more conversation, Windstein goes on to write, “Know I’m not the enemy/I can teach the blind to see/Too many tears too many wounds/Bringing healing to the ill/Just follow me/You won’t regress/I’m giving life, I’m giving breath/At times it’s hard, at times I’m blind/But I bring new life to you/And in the end/That’s what is real/Cause agony will make you feel/Into freedom I lead you.” It goes without saying that this makes for even more discussion. It would be interesting to know for certain the inspiration for this song. Regardless, the fact that it has the potential to create so much discussion combined with its pummeling musical heaviness makes it one more of the best pieces on this album.

Both ‘Walk With Knowledge Wisely’ and ‘Teach The Blind To See’ are important in their own right to Symmetry in Black in terms of its overall presentation. Musically, both songs are extremely heavy. Lyrically speaking, they couldn’t be more opposite from one another. One is empowering. The other seems something of a commentary. So both songs present their own value to the album in whole. They just do so in their own way. The same can be said of ‘A Wealth of Empathy.’ Much like the album’s opener, this song presents a rather positive message of hope set against a rather heavy musical side that directly contrasts its lyrical side. Windstein writes in this song of overcoming all of the negativity thrown out in life. One could actually argue in the case of this song that it is in its own right a companion to ‘Walk With Knowledge Wisely’ as that song discussed trying to overcome said difficulties and negativity in life. This piece goes more in an introspective direction, with Windstein looking back on those difficulties and negativity, declaring that he has overcome them. He writes here, “I can’t explain my suffering/But I have lived through misery/My faith will pull me through/And bring to me new life/No need for sympathy/I’ve overcome/My strife/No longer feeling cold/The mind grows wise as we grow old.” That is quite the hopeful statement. And as with the album’s opener, such statement set against the song’s foreboding musical element, it makes for an even more powerful statement of personal emotional strength. That overall impact makes this song one of the highest of points on this record. Together with ‘Walk With Knowledge Wisely,’ ‘Teach The Blind To See,’ and the album’s remaining nine tracks, they make up an album that is one that any long-time fan of Crowbar will thoroughly enjoy.

Whether it be for the album’s more inspirational songs such as the pair mentioned here or for others that make up this record, every fan of Crowbar will find their own reason to enjoy this new record. It is available now in stores and online. Fans can get more info on this and other releases from Crowbar as well as the latest updates from the band online at:

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Bringing Metal to The Children is one Wylde read

Zakk Wylde is known throughout the music world as one of the most prolific guitarists in modern music history.  His chops are unequalled.  That he’s been part of fellow legend Ozzy Osbourne’s camps only adds to his reputation.  Now, the man who heads up the Black Label Society worldwide can add one more title to his resume.  That title is author.  And his new book, Bringing Metal to The Children:  The Complete Berzerker’s Guide to World Tour Domination is an amazing look behind the scenes at life on the road for Wylde and his BLS bandmates.

Wylde opens the book fittingly with an introduction to the Black Label Society creed:  SDMF. Strength, Determination, Merciless, Forever.  SDMF isn’t just some random marketing scheme.  For both fans and members of BLS, it’s a way of life.  It’s a creed.  It’s a motto of self empowerment.  Wylde writes of Strength that it relates to mental, physical and spiritual strength.  For those who don’t know, he is a very devout Catholic, despite what  some may believe of him (or his friend and mentor Ozzy Osbourne.  He discusses this later in the book).  And his faith plays a very big role in his personal strength.  By looking at him, it’s obvious that Wylde walks the walk and talks the talk.  He writes about his physical conditioning.  He explains about his exercise and eating habits, especially now that he’s sober.  That combination of spiritual and physical strength leads to his explanation of DeterminationDetermination is self explanatory.  He writes of this part of the BLS creed to not give up, no matter how tough or bad the situation may be. Merciless is directly tied in to Determination.  To be merciless means to give every bit of what one has.  Forget giving 100% of what one has.  Regardless of the situation, to be merciless means giving 1,000% of oneself.  Simply put, it means to never give up.  Never Give Up.  Those are three little words.  But they’re the key to this part of the BLS creed.  Again, they tie right in to Determintaion.  It all also ties directly back to Strength.  If one embraces these three parts of the BLS creed means that one will find they’ll want to live by that creed Forever.  Understanding the Black Label Society creed is to be part of the Black Label Society worldwide Forever.  It means being the best one can be Forever

The thorough explanation of the Black Label Society creed is a perfectly fitting opening to this new book.  That’s because it serves to disspel the label that has been placed on Black Label Society and its fans.  If the in depth explanation of the band’s creed isn’t enough to prove just how vital BLS is to the music community, then the explanation of the “Three Black Label R’s” and the signifigance of the band’s patches will serve to show outsiders that Black Label Society isn’t just a band.  It collectively shows that Black Label Society is a community and a way of life.  It creates a whole new appreciation for Black Label Society, and for that which Black Label Society stands.

After explaining the Black Label creed, Zakk starts discussing his beginnings as a musician up to his trials and tribulations as a solo artist, dealing with record labels, and his time with Ozzy and the creation of his own home studio, known as the Black Vatican.  Along the way, readers are treated to stories of good times with other rockers, such as:  Fozzy, Crowbar, Damageplan, etc.  He also writes some stories about fellow guitar god, Dimebag Darrel (R.I.P.).  OF course, stories of life on the road aren’t all that Zakk imparts to his readers in his new book.  He also tackles Ozzy’s religious reputation.  He explains to readers that all the rumors of Ozzy being this and that are entirely wrong.  Rather, he writes, Ozzy’s quite religious.  As a matter of fact, he writes that the crucifixes that he and all the Black Label Society members wear were made by Ozzy’s dad.  He ties in to that story of how he [Zakk] bought some books to try to understand certain topics, and his wife’s reaction to it.  One can’t help but agree with Zakk’s argument that reading it doesn’t mean practicing it.  Learning that after his wife threw the books out of a hotel window, and someone took them will bring plenty of laughs.

Speaking of laughs, real Black Label fans will have more than their share of laughs throughout this books.  Zakk writes of his early days in a little band called Stonehenge, and its attempts to get its name out there.  The story of his experience playing at a person’s house is the stuff of legend.  It’s the type of story one might only expect to hear or see from a movie or sitcom.  There’s also the story of one infamous in-store appearance with Ozzy in which the store only carried a grand total of twelve (yes twelve) Ozzy albums.  Reactions from both Zakk himself and Ozzy’s wife, Sharon, are absolutely hilarious.  And then there are, of course, stories of BLS’ radio ventures at stations that didn’t know the first thing about him or his band.  Perhaps one of the book’s funniest moments doesn’t come from in store appearances or Zakk’s early days.  It comes as Zakk explains the dangers of using the bathroom on a tour bus.  If this story doesn’t get audiences laughing, then nothing in this book will. 

Bringing Metal to The Children offers readers so much great material.  Whether one is a new member of the Black Label Society Worldwide, or a lifelong Berzerker, this book is an absolutely wonderful read for any Society Dweller worldwide.  It’s one of those rare music memoirs that really shines in a sea of books that clog bookstore shelves and digital downloading pages.  For fans of the rock world, if there’s one book to check out in 2012, it’s Zakk Wylde’s new book, Bringing Metal to The Children.