Thursday 11 January 2018

ALBUM REVIEW: Corrosion of Conformity - "No Cross No Crown"

By: Ernesto Aguilar

Album Type: Full length
Date Released: 12/01/2018
Label: Nuclear Blast

Dissipated is the more prevalent punk and thrash of "IX" in favor of the sound that made CoC its name, but done in a contemporary way. As such, this is Corrosion of Conformity's finest work in many years.  "No Cross No Crown is something Corrosion of Conformity fans can rejoice in.

"No Cross No Crown" CD//DD//LP track listing

1. Novus Deus
2. The Luddite
3. Cast The First Stone
4. No Cross
5. Wolf Named Crow
6. Little Man
7. Matre's Diem
8. Forgive Me
9. Nothing Left To Say
10. Sacred Isolation
11. Old Disaster
12. E.L.M.
13. No Cross No Crown
14. A Quest To Believe (A Call To The Void)
15. Son And Daughter

The Review:

Runs as long and lovely as Corrosion of Conformity sadly do not come often. While there are a few collectives that manage to stay together for extensive stretches, maintaining their levels is tough. Since 1984's "Eye for an Eye," few bands have navigated being musically innovative, commercially successful and faithful to their roots as the boys from North Carolina. Although there have been some rocky spots, the results for CoC have largely been positive.  The band has undergone some changes in its style over the decades (see its punk ethos of the 1980s and thrash/punk/crossover in the late 2000s), as well as among its lineup (most importantly the departure of frontman Pepper Keenan in 2005, after leading CoC to its biggest hits and largest arenas). Yet Corrosion of Conformity has survived it all and managed to stay a popular touring – albeit less on the sales front – performer.

When Keenan departed CoC in 2005 to lead Down, the group continued on, but never attained the heights previously touched. A break was punctuated with 2012’s self titled album, 2014's solid "IX" album and EP "Megalodon," and occasional appearances with Keenan. However, the remaining members were coy about a reunion for quite awhile. Yet the lineup's chemistry with Keenan was undeniable, and CoC headed to the studio in 2015, with Keenan back at the mic. "No Cross No Crown" is the product of those sessions.

CoC's history has been marked with many long recording pauses – keep in mind, they've had only five albums since 2000 – and lots of touring. The layoff between the harder edged "IX" and the latest is noticeable, in a positive way – not only because of the stylistic change, but because of the renewed vigor you catch early on "No Cross No Crown." Such fresh energy is irrefutably due to Keenan's rejoining the group. He and the rest of the band have an old spark back. And still, Keenan's vocal is not only enduringly compelling, but comes anew from the heavy blues cloth from which classic metal oftentimes takes cues. Dissipated is the more prevalent punk and thrash of "IX" in favor of the sound that made CoC its name, but done in a contemporary way. As such, this is Corrosion of Conformity's finest work in many years.

If you got turned on to CoC during its "Deliverance" period, a lot of that power and swagger is back. Opener "Novus Deus" slinks through your earbuds and careens right into "The Luddite," with mammoth riffs and Keenan's wicked generalship. What makes Corrosion of Conformity so fascinating in its run is how it has managed to rise above what you think about the music it does. Meaning, CoC is probably most clearly associated with hard rock and metal, but can attract fans among those who like alternative rock, stoner and heavy blues. A song like "Little Man" could easily find a home on mainstream rock radio, for instance. There are a few bands in our contemporary cadence that have managed to do a decent crossover in a fashion that flouts their genre – think System of A Down, Slipknot and a few others – which Corrosion of Conformity enters the conversation with. Obviously, that isn't a musical comparison insofar as CoC has turned their music into something that attracts attention from music fans who might vibe with their particular charisma and originality as much as the songs on "No Cross No Crown." Breathe easy for no Ed Sheeran-esque rapping or elements that detract from its brand; CoC accentuates what it does best instead, while highlighting other influences beguilingly well.

There are lots of durable metal moments on the latest recording that are sure to get longtime CoC fans hyped. "Forgive Me" is a hard rock romp with a roadhouse chaser. "Old Disaster" and "Wolf Named Crow" are vintage CoC, harkening back to its "Clean My Wounds" glory days. Lyrically, Keenan remains poignant as ever, spinning tales with many meanings and conveying messages that avoid being heavy handed, like "Cast the First Stone" ("Back in time before they crossed the line, and the truth was made of gold/Cross of paths that was based on the past, or so the story goes/Strike fear and the end draws near, and the peasants wore a blindfold"). You get the feeling, hearing something as inescapably catchy and aggressive as "E.L.M.," that there's simply a particular pleasure the foursome gets in playing together. Familiarity is part of it. So must knowing they've captured a special bolt of lightning, such as with album closer "A Quest to Believe." However that enthusiasm is distilled, its result is something Corrosion of Conformity fans can rejoice in. Now, bring on the tour.

"No Cross, No Crown" is available here

Band info: facebook