There is a long personal set of anecdotes about Corrosion of Conformity that I could fill several pages with but ‘No Cross No Crown’ has left me slightly stymied at the prospect of remarking on their multiple personality syndrome, live shows, and what memories their albums have left with me. While my first love was with their amazing crossover/hardcore punk records and the juxtaposition of their sludgey doom metal/hard rock sound that ended up on the damn radio a few years later. But really what stuck with me over the years was an interview with Pepper Keenan in a guitar magazine where he discussed getting his first guitar: A friend of his died in a motorcycle accident and Keenan climbed in the window of his house and took his guitar. Funny how the theft of a guitar from a dead friend can be spun a few different ways and with Keenan’s return to the band after two records without him I feel spun in a couple different directions myself.
After ‘America’s Volume Dealer’ I had enough of their southern fried alternative rock music and was pretty happy that Pepper had kept himself busy with Down despite the short detour back to C.O.C. with the incredibly mediocre ‘In the Arms of God’ which amounted to Down record all things considered. I couldn’t have been more excited for their return to crossover/sludge on ‘Corrosion of Conformity’ in 2012 and their 2014 follow up and ninth full-length ‘IX’. I was honestly ready for the band to just stick with it… and then came Pepper again. ‘No Cross No Crown’ is a full hour of bland and meandering NOLA rock music from checked-out songwriters who can hardly manage more than going through the motions in 2018.
Granted the production sound is immense and powerful, the southern fried sludge rock style hasn’t been this clear and rumbling since Down‘s ‘II: A Bustle in Your Hedgerow…’ album. As much as I struggle with missing out on more thrashy punk-sludge records there is good reason C.O.C. were noticed and praised back in the day and it wasn’t just “Albatross”. Sure, a lot of what you’ll hear here they’d done to death by ‘Wiseblood’ and much of the hooks this record wants to pin on you they’ll find old holes for. It’s disappointing to get the feeling that Keenan’s return includes some nostalgic pandering and not just a new, big memorable jam. Filler like “No Cross”, “Matre’s Diem” and literal riffs Keenan has used before “Wolf Named Crow” pad out an album that could have easily been a cool, crisp 45 minutes long.
Between the bland Queen cover song, the instrumental interludes, and some revisionist history in the riff deparment ‘No Cross No Crown’ is a fat and wasteful mainstream rock record with a big, nasty set of piss-stinking balls. I like it, and I’ll cradle those old stinking balls for weeks with a chip on my shoulder, but this thing won’t stick with me once I wash my hands of it. Very heavy, sorta vapid, and a fleeting good time.
|Released||January 5, 2018|
|Preview/Listen on Spotify||Follow Corrosion of Conformity on Facebook|
Whiskey-dicked uncle rockin’ jams. 3.0/5.0
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