Corrosion Of Conformity

No Cross No Crown

Written by: AP on 05/02/2018 20:04:54

The year is still young, but even in its infant stage, 2018 has already delivered a number of highly anticipated releases — among them Corrosion of Conformity’s tenth studio album, “No Cross No Crown”, which serves as the first output from the Raleigh, NC-based stoner metallers to feature the iconic Pepper Keenan on guitar and vocals since 2005’s “In the Arms of God”. After the passable, if ultimately quite disappointing “IX” in 2014, it has thus been advertised as the record that Corrosion’ fans have been wanting for more than a decade; a golden opportunity to prove the naysayers who had all but decreed the band’s days to be numbered wrong, by returning to the Southern-fried rock and metal style that Keenan originally introduced to the outfit upon his arrival in the early ‘90s. Some of Corrosion of Conformity’s disciples of course continue to swear by the crossover thrash style for which the band was noted during its formative years in the mid ‘80s, and “No Cross No Crown” will bring no satisfaction to that fan segment. But if it was the likes of 1994’s “Deliverance” and 1996’s “Wiseblood” that hooked you into the band, then the record will sound extremely familiar.

By and large, “No Cross No Crown” has Corrosion’ pretending like nothing happened in the past 13 years, and as such, it very much resembles the successor to “In the Arms of God” that never came to fruition. This has both positive and negative connotations, in that it ticks all the right boxes in terms of adhering to the signature sound of this Corrosion’ line-up, but shuns the idea of expanding upon that sound and thus working toward another legendary album in the vein of “Deliverance”. Make no mistake — the record offers scorching grooves, Thin Lizzy-inspired twin leads, psychedelic jams and burly, bluesy singing galore. But while tracks like “The Luddite” and “Wolf Named Crow” should leave no doubt whatsoever about their having been composed with the steady hand of experience, they do not leave the listener gasping for breath; they lack the immortal character of songs such as the title track to “Deliverance”, not to mention the revered “Clean My Wounds”, “Albatross” or “Señor Limpio”. Considering that almost no artists actually succeed in conceiving more than one masterpiece during their lifespan though, it is perhaps unfair to expect “No Cross No Crown” to hold the standard of that fabled 1994 effort, and when one looks beyond the (however inevitable) comparison, Corrosion’ do in fact treat us to some mouthwatering chops.

One of these is the midway piece “Little Man”, the crackling tone, languid rhythm, prismatic guitar solos and smoky vocalisation of which are certain to feed your nostalgia about the band’s ‘90s glory days. And at opposite ends of the spectrum around it, the muscular “Cast the First Stone” ropes in a bundles of inspiration from Keenan’s other outfit, Down, to unleash a welcome discharge of metallic energy, while the epic balladry of “Nothing Left to Say” slowly burns its way to becoming one of the most spine tingling moments that “No Cross No Crown” has to offer. Together with the pairing of “Old Disaster” and “E.L.M.” near the record’s far end, it seems to subscribe to a more classic stoner-rocking premise that should sit especially well with connoisseurs of Monster Magnet’s music, and if there is anything that one learns from this trident, it is that lasting value is not always a product of catchy melodies or memorable vocal lines; a stone solid groove, a seriously trippy intermezzo and a good swagger will do the trick as well.

The answer to whether “No Cross No Crown” caters to the expectation that it would restore the band to the apex of southern-flavoured rock and metal, is therefore both a ‘yes’ and a ‘no’. It comes with enough striking moments to be considered a worthy addition to Corrosion of Conformity’s glowing repertoire, but it would be a stretch to talk about it as another “Deliverance”, “Wiseblood” or even “In the Arms of God”. Those of us who were left bitterly disappointed by “IX” four years ago (as in: most of us) can rejoice in the quartet’s returning to a righteous path, but any celebration must come with a conjoining hope that Corrosion’ will choose to disengage the autopilot and finish what they have started here — that is, if another album is even in the plans.

7

Download: Cast the First Stone, Little Man, Nothing Left to Say, Old Disaster, E.L.M.
For the fans of: Black Label Society, Down, Monster Magnet
Listen: Facebook

Release date 12.01.2018
Nuclear Blast Records

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