REVIEW: CORROSION OF CONFORMITY – “No Cross No Crown”
‘No Cross No Crown’ is the first Corrosion Of Conformity album in twelve years to feature guitarist and vocalist Pepper Keenan. The album sounds like no time has passed since they last played together and it’s clear that the group’s musical direction was motivated by recapturing the sound of their earlier work, particularly ‘Deliverance’ and ‘Wiseblood’, rather than reinventing the wheel. I’m happy to say they’ve mostly succeeded and that ‘No Cross No Crown’ can stand side by side with their most loved albums.
Let’s start with the most important thing. The signature sound of Keenan and Weatherman’s rhythm-heavy dual guitar machine is back in full force and when it comes down to purely to riffs this might just be their best album yet, with plenty of Black Sabbath and Thin Lizzy influence mixed into their trademark southern snarl. Keenan’s vocals are on top form too with impressive range. The band just generally sound more technically proficient than when they last played together which is no surprise given the amount of experience they’ve amassed since ‘In The Arms of God’.
The songwriting also impresses with a blend of in your face southern metal such as the currently released singles ‘’Cast The First Stone’’ and ‘‘A Wolf Name Crow’’ and slower, sludgier tracks such as “Old Disaster” and ‘’A Quest To Believe’’ interspersed with short instrumental interludes they’ve become known for since deliverance. In our modern age of music consumption, these instrumental tracks will probably be skipped by a lot of people which is a shame as they help to break up the album into distinct sections and build anticipation – ‘No Cross No Crown’ is definitely an album best listened to in its entirety for full effect.
So far, I’ve heaped a ton of praise on ‘No Cross No Crown’ and while I do love the album it’s not perfect. The second half of the album is notably weaker, particularly the title track ‘No Cross No Crown’ which is just under four minutes of ambient guitar, background noise with some chant like spoken word and it feels completely out of place and overly long. There’s also less of a focus on catchy vocal hooks and the album spends more time with the speed dialled down – not necessarily a bad thing but it’s worth noting that this album might not grab you right away. After multiple playthroughs, however, details you may have missed begin to stand out and it’s clear a good deal of thought has gone into making each song unique.
‘No Cross No Crown’ sounds like a natural evolution from where they left off twelve years ago. While it lacks some of the immediacy of the ‘Deliverance’ to ‘In The Arms Of God’ era it makes up for it with its sludgier pace, killer riffs and memorable songwriting. If you’re a fan of any of Corrosion Of Conformity’s album with Pepper Keenan this is an essential listen.