The new Corrosion of Conformity album is a huge deal in metal and hard rock circles since it marks the long-awaited return of Lead Singer Pepper Keenan. After a long hiatus to work with Down, Pepper is back with the band and “No Cross No Crown” is out.
The album title was derived from one of CORROSION OF CONFORMITY‘s recent tour stops at a 16th century English church at which they played. One of the dressing room’s stained-glass windows depicted a man being persecuted with the accompanying inscription: “No cross no crown”. Keenan used the title as a thematic starting point, but—in spite of its history as a politically conscious band and the title’s suggestive possibility of biblical significance—he didn’t use it as a means to forward any kind of political or religious commentary. “I think everyone needs to get away from that mindset in general,” Keenan stated via a press release. “It just seems to be a mess out there nowadays. We need to get back to being humans and taking care of each other and simple things like that. For us, the terminology ‘No cross no crown’ is a theme.” In that sense, such an attempt to circumvent politics finds the quartet as socially conscious as ever. In any event, CORROSION OF CONFORMITY has returned with a release that proves that the gentlemen are back on their game and ready to rumble.
No Cross No Crown serves as a solid blend of the band’s career output. Some of COC’s punk/hardcore beginnings remain, yet the Lynyrd Skynyrd/Black Sabbath Southern stoner rock sound that brought the band top 20 Mainstream Rock hits like “Clean My Wounds” and “Albatross,” and garnered it a Grammy nomination for best metal performance for “Drowning in a Daydream,” are present as well. Keenan says the group wanted to make a statement with the set.
While many bands peak after their first few albums, the fact that Corrosion of Conformity is not only on its 10th album, but has made an LP that ranks alongside its best as its members approach middle age is something the band stands behind. “We made a record, and it’s strong,” says Keenan. “That’s half the battle. It was a challenge to do it, and that was the trying part. The rest is easy: just go out and play if we want to. We made a record that can push some parameters and get people thinking, and not have us viewed as your average flash-in-the-pan kind of band.”
The band went into writing No Cross No Crown with more or less a blank slate, says Keenan, adding that he had been sitting on several riffs that he used for the album. “We were going in with nothing, having not made a record [together] in 12 years,” he says. “It was an interesting challenge to step up to the plate. I consider In the Arms of God to be an extremely strong record, so the standards were high. We went in there with big expectations and knew we had to work to get there.” Producer John Custer, who has either produced or co-produced every COC album since 1991’s Blind, was behind the boards, which made things easier.
After spending a number of years revisiting their hardcore/punk roots as a trio before rhythm guitarist/lead vocalist Keenan re-joined for multiple tours, Corrosion of Conformity have written a record that harks back to their golden Deliverance and Wiseblood days, with the added doom-laden lurches of Keenan’s last LP with the band, 2005’s In the Arms of God.
Corrosion of Conformity’s ninth studio release since Eye for an Eye in 1984—is the sound of an influential act brimming with creative energy. Arguably, one of the Best Vocalists around, rounded out by founding members Woody Weatherman on lead guitar and backing vocals, Mike Dean on bass and Reed Mullin on drums/percussion (his first album with Keenan since 2000’s America’s Volume Dealer) the chemistry between these long-time friends has never been in question; but with age, you’d expect the fire in their bellies to have resided somewhat. Comprised of snarling sludge riffs, booming vocals from a riled Keenan and a bluesy solo from Weatherman, “The Luddite” is one of the heaviest Corrosion of Conformity songs to date—a startling opener following the mood-setting “Novus Deus”. Its sheer sonic clout may not be replicated for the remainder of the album but closer “A Quest to Believe (A Call to the Void)”—a Saint Vitus-worthy doom-crawler spanning six minutes—comes near. Its riffs are bruising, slow and immovable. “The hour is upon you / There is no reprieve!” warns Keenan, the traditions of the subgenre upheld with such despondent lyricism.
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»No Cross No Crown« – Track Listing:
01. Novus Deus
02. The Luddite
03. Cast The First Stone
04. No Cross
05. Wolf Named Crow
06. Little Man
07. Matre’s Diem
08. Forgive Me
09. Nothing Left To Say
10. Sacred Isolation
11. Old Disaster
13. No Cross No Crown
14. A Quest To Believe (A Call To The Void)
15. Son And Daughter
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