"No Cross No Crown"

By Lord Randall

 There are few bands which any new album release could be called an Event (note: capital E), and CORROSION OF CONFORMITY’s upcoming "No Cross No Crown" is sure to be. Born from a handful of shows in Europe to “test the waters” a couple years back, the return of Pepper Keenan to the fold has had the community in fits since its announcement. But this could all come crashing down, if the album doesn’t deliver. If only a couple songs stand the test.

Thankfully, I can report that the only things crashing down with opener ‘The Luddite’ is eardrums and the idol of technology as a new god, toppled by those who know the dangers of its worship. ‘Cast The First Stone’ is the first real nod to the Columbia years and "Deliverance", the chopped-yet-charging riff and rhythm recalling (possibly a bit too) ‘King Of The Rotten’ – but only possibly, and will definitely let those who weren’t even born when that album came out know what they missed. The dual lead work within, though, is the sound of “Fuck!”, and what booze-wet dreams are made of, leading into the first of a few interludes, subtle, ancient and shamanistic in tone. If you’ve read anything I’ve written for any length of time, you’ll know that these ears value tone over technicality 8 times out of 10, and to you I present ‘Little Man’, a ZZ TOP slow-burning boogie worthy of Elmore James or GIDEON SMITH. ‘Forgive Me’ steps up to a mid-paced lurch, fiery leads plowing sonic furrows through the field, and this is where the longtime fan will hear the magic happen, the Dean/Mullin rhythm section playing it limber but locked in, rawk perfection at its most rawkin’. For those who crave the low-slung stomp, ‘Old Disaster’ drags the river of early AIC/Jerry Cantrell in both execution and subject matter, grimy, grinding and ghoulish. 

 Of course, everyone’s going to have their opinion, and, as long as everyone keeps shit civil, I’m really anxious to hear/read how "No Cross No Crown" is received. For my part, more than a dozen listens in, I still end up grinning like a fool through most of it. The boys are, indeed, back in town.