After the funereal guitar orgy intro "Novus Deus," Corrosion of Conformity drops a sludgey groove on "The Luddite," signaling the arrival of No Cross No Crown, the band's long-awaited reunion with guitarist/vocalist Pepper Keenan.
If you haven't been following the group's career trajectory, original members guitarist Woody Weatherman, bassist/vocalist Mike Dean, and drummer Reed Mullin had been recording and touring together for the past few years, even releasing two studio albums during that period. The last time the Keenan lineup released a full-length together was back in 2005, so expectations were high for No Cross No Crown.
Produced by longtime studio collaborator John Custer, the new album finds C.O.C. in full Sabbath mode, with an endless onslaught of both doom-ridden and boogie riffs in tow. "Cast the First Stone" is a catchy motherfucker that captures many of the sonic tenets that made the band's '90s output so undeniably irrisistible: chunky guitar riffs, driving rhythms, a memorable chorus, and twin-harmonies from Keenan and Weatherman.
Elsewhere on the new album, "Wolf Named Crow, "Little Man," and "Forgive Me" all have that Mountain meets Judas Priest sort of spirit C.O.C. is known for. The melodic nuances throughout those tracks—and the rest of the record, for that matter—also shine through brilliantly. Keenan's vocals pack a ton of personality, and he never misses delivering in the hook department.
The title track is an ominous journey featuring spoken-word lyrics, a demented-sounding choir, and ghost-like guitar parts that drift in and out of the track. "A Quest to Believe (A Call to the Void)" takes the album back into more familiar waters, riding a snakey rhythm out and offering up more hyper-melodic guitar lines.
Choosing a cover of Queen's "Son and Daughter" to close out No Cross No Crown is a classy move by C.O.C., tipping their hats off to one of the group's who helped inform the more arena-rock-ready aspects of their songwriting. Summing this all up, there are plenty of tracks on this new album that can stand up next to such C.O.C. classics as "Albatross," "Clean My Wounds," and "Congratulations Song." In other words, we have another winner on our hands.
- Nuclear Blast (vinyl, CD, cassette)
Tagged: corrosion of conformity