I think this band really needs no introduction. Anyone well versed in the world of heavy metal will have at the very least heard the name Corrosion of Conformity, especially the longtime listeners. These sludge/stoner metal icons from North Carolina have been at it for well over three decades now, with a musical career encompassing several established record labels and ten full-length studio album releases.
The latest effort from Corrosion of Conformity, titled No Cross No Crown, is an hour-long album released via Nuclear Blast Records and consisting of fifteen tracks in total. The band is up to their traditional standards in terms of writing the lyrics, setting up the real world themes and creating a sludgy, yet balladic environment at times. No Cross No Crown seems to have a sort of existential or maybe religious undertone to it. Finally, the instrumentals here are nothing new...but they do a decent job at keeping pace and setting a backdrop for everything else that's going on in the mix.
To be honest, there isn't much to be said about this album that you can't say about this band's previous efforts. The main notable feature of this particular release is the return of old longtime vocalist Pepper Keenan. His vocal addition and prowess breathes new but familiar life into the music this time around. Also, the instrumentals are pretty catchy for the most part, with the sludgy atmosphere once again built up by the slow moving guitar riffs, drum patterns and Keenan's signature vocals. There are some riffs and solols in there akin to the earlier albums, but it is no Deliverance. Some songs, such as 'Cast The First Stone' and 'Forgive Me', hold up to the old standards through their ambiance, eclectic riffs and solos, sound variety and very competent structure.
While this album is pretty enjoyable at certain points, it ends up sounding the same after a while. Given the length and recycling of old band formulas, this doesn't come as a surprise. The repetition gets more noticeable in the second half, though. The riffs are there, but the bass is drowned out. In addition, the album contains several filler tracks, which are basically one or two minute instrumental build-up compositions and interludes put in between. These could've been taken out, as they don't really do much to impact the music in my opinion.
In conclusion, the latest tenth installment to the Corrosion of Conformity discography is listenable and even moderately enjoyable at times. However, the lack of innovation begins to show and the album loses its luster after a while of listening. There are some gems in there...and the inclusion of Keenan is also a treat; but, the final product is pretty average for a Corrosion of Conformity release. I will say that the musicianship isn't too shabby either and the band still has some charm left. In all, No Cross No Crown is recommended for die-hard fans of the band and longtime listeners.
Fave Tracks: 'Cast The First Stone'; 'Nothing Left To Say'
Review by: Dave Raffy
-Musician, reviewer, fan & promoter
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