Corrosion of Conformity’s “No Cross No Crown” Surpasses Expectations…  The mighty mix of thrash, metal, hardcore rock’n’roll from Corrosion of Conformity (CoC) is all there in the brand-spankin’ new album “No Cross No Crown”(Nuclear Blast). The fifteen track blazin’ compilation is not breaking any new ground or debuting a more modern sound… it’s simply CoC. They have always been true to their roots and longtime fans and this album provides a little taste for all eras of the CoC faithful to savor. None of their albums, or songs, are ever identical… they are always changing things up a bit and that is the reason for their long-standing successes. Oh…and did I mention… Pepper is back!!! If you’re reading this you probably already know. I started enjoying their hardcore jams in the mid 80’s and have never stopped… all because their music has never let me down… NEVER!!! Even with Pepper’s absence from the group, they still put out a few outstanding albums as a three-piece and before he initially joined the band in 1989 they had some pure gems too. So, the band can,and has, gone on without Pepper… but with him they are unstoppable. Their highly anticipated new record will be available January 12th on the Nuclear Blast label and its packed with nothing but genuine, classic CoC rockin’ tunage… consider it a late gift from Santa Claus. When Pepper Keenan returned, I will admit, I was seriously wondering if they could pull this off… and I was not alone. The expectations were monumental and the real CoC fans would surely let them know if their high standards were not met. From their first reunion show playing all the classics we all knew this was meant to be. It seemed to be no surprise to them as they exceeded all expectations with a pure masterpiece that rivals any record they have done in nearly thirty years. The “Jedi” of the production realm, John Custer, joins them once again in the studio and his stamp is clearly evident. Sure, Custer has worked with several well known groups but there is something special with this combination and it is simply not explainable… period. CoC and Custer have certainly compiled another album that will be cranked loudly for years to come.

From the beginning of the album… the bass drum heartbeats and the heavy breathing gives you fair warning to catch your breath ’cause this ain’t lettin’ up no time soon bruh. The eighty-nine second instrumental intro, “Novus Deus”, will surely be the new opening jam for the live shows and take the place of the ever present “Bottom Feeder” intro. The signature, chugging dual guitars from Woody Weatherman and Pepper Keenan ignite the “Luddite” tune… accompanying the ol’ Pep vocal growl we have been missing for over twelve years. The first single released to light the fuse, “Cast the First Stone”, carries a smoking pace with catchy hooks, screaming guitars, a pounding bass from Mike Dean and a menacing drum line from Reed Mullin. The short and mesmerizing acoustic interlude “No Cross” provides the imagery of an old western movie. The solemn appearance of a silhouette of a cowboy dropping a backwoods smoke on the ground and crushing it out with his dusty boot just before his gun is drawn for a shootout in the next track… the second released single “Wolf Named Crow”. The Keenan and Weatherman dual shine brightly on this track with a series of squealing solos and tribal beats from Mullin. The slower pace of the tune “Little Man” begins and develops into an all-out rock’n’roll jam with  a catchy chorus and alternating blistering solos in the classic CoC fashion… a spectacular track indeed. Another acoustic interlude erupts with “Matre’s Diem” reminiscent of a new day’s sunrise with optimism and hope for a new chapter of life for CoC. My favorite track on the album “Forgive Me” is up next with unapologetic lyrics and the maniacal spoken hook from Keenan over a beautifully arranged guitar sequence. This tune showcases all the band is known for and will clearly become a fan favorite. The tick-tock of the six-string introduces “Nothing Left to Say” as the momentum slows with a bluesy track of magnificent beauty and an unmistakable ‘Nawlins swagger. The first lyric, “Life gave you everything and you threw it all away” sets the tone. The echoing effect on the guitars provides the perfect backdrop that celebrates Mullin’s masterful drum work and Dean’s thunderous bass lines… and suddenly a scorching guitar solo takes over as if its weeping for the main character of the story. The ebb and flow on this dastardly track is impeccable and flawless. The lyric “Memories… they seem like dreams and time’s a gift of tears” is certainly heartfelt and Pep’s emotions are definitely on his sleeve.  A hauntingly odd piano sequence begins yet another instrumental track, “Sacred Isolation”, with highly distorted guitars and effects. Yes, a piano in a CoC song… this album has some twists and turns around every corner. “Old Disaster” begins with a Kiss sounding musical intro and morphs into a magnificent sludgy piece of work with soaring guitar riffage and lofty vocals with an astonishing six-string solo to boot. I had to look at the album listing twice to make sure this next song wasn’t a track from my “In the Arms of God” album. It sounds like a continuation from Kennan’s last studio offering with the band in 2005. The caustic track “E.L.M.” could easily be squeezed-in right between “Stone Breaker” and “Paranoid Opioid”. The title song of the album, “ No Cross No Crown”, provides eerie spoken verses from Keenan with mythical acoustical guitar plucking and finishes the previous acoustic track “No Cross” with a Pink Floyd-ish vibe. The second to last track, “A Quest to Believe (A Call To the Void)” blasts off with a bossy drum slap from Mullin, roaring guitars and a driving bass line from Dean right into forceful lyrics from Keenan. The howling guitar solos and harmonies shine throughout this righteous jam. To finish off this remarkable album, “Son and Daughter” begins with deathly guitar screams and chugging synchronized riffs soon take over. A muffled vocal delivery from Keenan takes a backseat to a captivating exchange of riveting guitar solos and an outstanding drumming sequence from Mullin.  WOW !!! … I’m as exhausted listening to this mighty album as you are reading my rambling review.

As everyone knows, John Custer and Corrosion of Conformity have a relationship that is inexplicable, unworldly and mystifying at times, but they always roll out the most outstanding work. They really bring out the best in each other and their past collaborations are no exception. But this… this album has exceeded all my expectations and has left me wanting to see CoC live right fuckin’ now!!! From the production… to the writing and the performance…to the album’s song arrangement… “No Cross No Crown” is, without a doubt, CoC’s most complete and precise work to date… and might I add it has been over a thirty year history. “Deliverance”, “Wiseblood” and “America’s Volume Dealer” will always hold a special place in my listening rotation and “No Cross No Crown” has now earned the right to proudly stand side-by-side with all of them. Beautiful work fellas… I’m certainly impressed and proud to be a lifelong fan. My hat goes off to this team for making 2018 begin with a mortar round like this. Custer and Corrosion of Conformity’s hard work has paid-off big time and they rightfully deserve to take a bow… kiss the rings bitches!!! Many thanks to the Nuclear Blast label for acquiring one of the most underrated musical artists still kicking ass today and allowing the CoC boys to continue what they started in 1981. The new album can be pre-ordered at http://coc.com. On December 27th, CoC embarks on a tour supporting Zakk Wylde’s Black Label Society with special guests Red Fang along with other acts along the way running through the end of February. On January 27th, the tour makes a welcoming stop at the House of Blues in Myrtle Beach, SC and a stop on the 28th in Raleigh, NC at The Ritz. So, if you want to get a first hand live experience of a few tunes from the new album do not miss this opportunity to celebrate the resurrection of a Pepper Keenan led Corrosion of Conformity. What good is life without a little new CoC in it ??? Break you off a piece…

Review by Rob Grissom for 3dotmag.com | Photo by Dean Karr

 

Black Label Society

UPCOMING TOUR DATES

Jan 03 – House of Blues | Chicago, IL

Jan 04 – Egyptian Room at Old National Centre | Indianapolis, IN

Jan 05 – The Fillmore Detroit | Detroit, MI

Jan 07 – Upstate Concert Hall | Clifton Park, NY

Jan 08 – M Telus, Montreal | Canada

Jan 09 – Rebel, Toronto | Canada

Jan 10 – 20 Monroe Live | Grand Rapids, MI

Jan 12 – Diamond Ballroom | Oklahoma City, OK

Jan 13 – Bomb Factory | Dallas, TX

Jan 14 – Emo’s | Austin, TX

Jan 15 – House Of Blues | Houston, TX

Jan 17 – House Of Blues | New Orleans, LA

Jan 18 – Marathon Music Works | Nashville, TN

Jan 19 – Bogart’s | Cincinnati, OH

Jan 20 – Center Stage | Atlanta, GA

Jan 21 – ShipRocked | Port Canaveral, FL

Jan 26 – Jannus Live | St. Petersburg, FL

Jan 27 – House Of Blues | North Myrtle Beach, SC

Jan 28 – The Ritz | Raleigh, NC

Jan 29 – The Fillmore Silver Spring | Silver Spring, MD

Jan 31 – Playstation Theater | New York, NY

Feb 01 – The Palladium | Worcester, MA

Feb 02 – Aura | Portland, ME

Feb 03 – Electric Factory | Philadelphia, PA

Feb 05 – Town Ballroom | Buffalo, NY

Feb 06 – The Goodyear Theater at East End | Akron, OH

Feb 07 – Stage AE | Pittsburgh, PA

Feb 08 – Eagles Ballroom Club Stage | Milwaukee, WI

Feb 09 – Myth Live | Saint Paul, MN

Feb 11 – O’Brians Event Centre | Saskatoon, Canada

Feb 12 – The Ranch Roadhouse | Edmonton, Canada

Feb 14 – Commodore Ballroom | Vancouver, Canada

Feb 16 – Bowes Event Center at Revolution Place | Grande Prairie, Canada

Feb 17 – MacEwan Hall | Calgary, Canada

Feb 19 – Showbox SoDo | Seattle, WA

Feb 20 – Roselande Theater | Portland, OR

Feb 21 – Ace Of Spades | Sacramento, CA

Feb 23 – House of Blues | Las Vegas, NV

Feb 24 – The Marquee | Tempe, AZ

Feb 25 – Sunshine Theater | Albuquerque, NM

Feb 27 – The Fonda Theatre | Los Angeles, CA

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