They Wear Metal Crowns Like Kings
There’s a bit of a complex history that comes with Corrosion of Conformity. Also known as C.O.C., the Raleigh, North Carolina band go as far back with their career than most new fans really imagine, starting out in 1982. And with the usual amount of lineup and style changes that can happen to span a 36-year career, it’s sensical that Corrosion of Conformity’s discography bounces from hardcore thrash to stoner rock and traditional Southern metal. Though, C.O.C.’s most recent undertaking has the flair of the band’s past. Rejoining the lineup that took the band to the next level, their newest album No Cross No Crown shows Pepper Keenan taking his place again as vocalist and rhythm guitarist after the original trio forged on without him. But with this reunion, No Cross No Crown shows the band picking up a few albums before where they left off.
No Cross No Crown starts off with the first of many overdone album features — the instrumental track. “Novus Deus,” just like the others, isn’t necessarily bad, but doesn’t offer much of anything. C.O.C.’s unapologetic grit needs nothing to interrupt it, and what should have acted as momentary ear breaks left more confusion than relief.
Nevertheless, “The Luddite” is the first track that really introduces the album. Driven by its Sabbathian riff, “The Luddite” makes it seem like Keenan and his gruff vocals had never left. Even in the video for the track, Keenan fronts the foursome like he’s always commanded it, though the overall feel of the song and the video and the track that succeeds it, “Cast the First Stone,” make it seem like the band is a little stuck in the past.
But once the album reaches “Wolf Named Crow,” the nostalgic Corrosion air is at its best. Tracks like this one, “Forgive Me” and “A Quest to Believe (A Call to the Void)” all recall Corrosion at their heyday, hitting riff-heavy bluesy nods that vary in tempo but all definitely expose the band’s Southern roots. “Little Man” even pulls a bit from Deliverance-era C.O.C., borrowing a large portion of the guitar line from “Albatross.”
No Cross No Crown is pretty long, with 15 tracks totaling almost an hour, but the latter half is definitely stronger. It’s an album more so for existing C.O.C. fans than one that’ll draw in new ones, but there’s nothing wrong with that. Corrosion of Conformity know who they’re playing for, and those will find No Cross No Crown the reunion album they’ve been waiting for.