Going back to something approaching their best...
Corrosion of Conformity are back with the heavy, rocking new album No Cross No Crown. Not only that, for the first time since 2005’s In The Arms of God, with Pepper Keenan back on the vocals. With his return Corrosion of Conformity are once again a four piece and have recaptured their best sound.
Keenan left the band in 2006 and moved back to New Orleans to join Down when the record label they were under fell apart. He reconnected with the core Corrosion Of Conformity trio of Woody Weatherman (guitar), Mike Dean (bass) and Reed Mullin (drums) to hit the road hard in 2014. “Reed called me and mentioned maybe playing a couple shows,” Keenan recalls. “I said, ‘Let’s just go to Europe and see if it works.’ So we went to Europe and then ended up going back four times in one year. Then Nuclear Blast gave us an offer and we didn’t even think about going anywhere else. We ended up touring for a year and then started tracking about ten or eleven months ago.”
This approach has definitely worked with No Cross No Crown hearkening back to their, in my opinion, better albums. Driven by big riffs, bigger drums and that stoner rock combined with southern rock sound they were well known for. No Cross No Crown has it in spades.
Novus Deus opens with an underlying heartbeat, giving me the feeling something is about to awaken. What is awakening is the grooving opening riff of The Luddite, a powerful opener which reminds us of what Corrosion of Conformity brings to the table. This gives way to the equally impressive Cast the First Stone, with its more up tempo groove, heavily distorted sound and tripped out solos. Keenan sounds good being back to front the band with a voice that at times sounds like a cross of departed legends Jimmy Hendrix and Chris Cornell.
Like previous offerings, the new album is broken up with melancholic little interludes reminiscent of Black Sabbath in the seventies. This is very deliberate as described by Keenan: “We started doing that on Deliverance. My theory on that is that if you’re trying to make a record flow, you need to break it up a little. When you need a breather, write an interlude. I like writing those mellow pieces just to space things out and make the next thing come in heavier.”
That is certainly shown to be the case with the magnificent Wolf Named Crow. It is a great hard rocking number which highlights what Corrosion of Conformity is about to me, reminiscent of Sabbath, with its sludgy riffs. The southern rock sound continues with Little Man; lyrics just dripping with attitude.
Forgive Me is another throwback to yesteryear and I find this throughout the album, on whole. The sound replicates and recaptures the edge that the band had with their most successful albums; Deliverance and Wiseblood. Keenan states “We weren’t trying to manipulate it to sound like other records, but that type of songwriting is what we do. It was important that we made an album – I didn’t want to write ten or twelve songs in the same key with the same guitar tone or some shit. We took each song on its own and tracked ’em completely individually.”
This certainly has been achieved as the second half of the album continues this with tracks such as Nothing Left To Say which is a slower number but does contain some amazing guitar work throughout giving it a Hendrix feel. Old Disaster is straight up rock and roll with a really big sound and E.L.M is a rockabilly track that just oozes cool. No Cross No Crown is one of those interlude type tracks with chanting that makes it sound very dark, if not too long, before they close out with the sludgy sounding rocker A Quest to Believe (A Call To The Void).
Overall No Cross No Crown is a great album with some great riffs and very good songwriting. Check it out if you love Alice In Chains, Monster Magnet, or Black Label Society. The album was recorded in North Carolina with longtime producer John Custer and will be available from January 12, 2018 through Nuclear Blast Records.
- Novus Deus
- The Luddite
- Cast The First Stone
- No Cross
- Wolf Named Crow
- Little Man
- Matre’s Diem
- Forgive Me
- Nothing Left To Say
- Sacred Isolation
- Old Disaster
- No Cross No Crown
- A Quest To Believe (A Call To The Void)