Corrosion of Conformity have returned in 2018 with an absolute stellar album ‘No Cross No Crown’, it is the first album since 2005’s ‘In The Arms of God’ to feature Pepper Keenan on vocals. After Peppers departure from CoC, the band continued on and produced some good albums (but something was always missing for myself). Since Keenan rejoined Woody Weatherman, Mike Dean, and Reed Mullin back in 2014 I have been waiting for a new COC album!
‘No Cross No Crown’ is a seamless slice of classic CoC; it was as though Pepper had never left as the chemistry and vibe is still there. The album opener ‘Novus Deus’ has a rock/blues feel, which leads into smooth grooves and hard hitting riffs. I have found it hard to pick my top tracks for this album, so I’m going to talk about all of them. Next up is ‘The Luddite’ which is heavy and melodic all at once which is a balance I love about CoC. Two tracks in and it’s already clear to me that the band are reinvigorated. This album sounds so fresh and full of energy. The first single ‘Cast the First Stone’ is a now familiar tune, with its punk rock vibe and killer guitar riffs. Hearing it the first time got me so excited about this albums release.
There is a musical interlude with ‘No Cross’ that opens with an intimate and soulful guitar melody that carries a deep rhythm throughout. After this we get the second single ‘Wolf Named Crow’ which is full of hard rock riffs, a catchy chorus and an epic guitar solo which I love. The song ‘Little Man’ is full of groove and the band sound is as tight and fresh as it was on the album ‘Wise Blood’. The guitar work is uncompromising and full of that nola soul. The melodies are thick and fast with Peppers vocals soaring over the top, which is as great as ever.
‘Matre’s Diem’ is another instrumental track of beautiful guitar melodies, which leads us through to the next song. ‘Forgive Me’ takes us straight back in with a catchy chorus, and the song arrangements are spot on. The guitar grooves are so strong throughout, it is hard not to fall in love with this album. ‘Nothing Left to Say’ brings with it a slow blues pace that allows Pepper to soulfully sing, while the rhythm section of drums and bass create a cradle to carry the guitars and vocals. As it all flows and sways through your ears. It is all so organic in nature and just grows with guitar melodies, entwining drum beats and bass grooves. ‘Sacred Isolation’ is another musical interlude, with faint guitar flexing and distortion.
The album continues with ‘Old Disaster’ which is another solid piece of CoC, with equal measures of guitar, bass, drum and vocals. The guitar work is just masterful, with layers of riffs and chords. ‘E.L.M’ is also thick with chunky riffs and the lyrics are enjoyable and full of hooks. Title track ‘No Cross No Crown’ has a dark sombre vibe as harmonies of voices raise up around Peppers. It’s a compelling song, that uses simplicity to great a graceful melody. ‘A Quest to Believe’ is again full of steady riffs and blues melodies. This mix of has always been the reason I appreciate CoC so much, it always makes for a great listen and exceptional live show. Lastly we finish with a cover of Queen’s ‘Son and Daughter’, which they make very much their own. Taken from their debut self titled album Queen, the song is from a time when Queen’s sound was more thick with guitar, bass and that 70s vibe. It is a crossover of CoC heavy sludge blues, with Queens catchy riffs.
As we reach the end of the album I’m sure you can tell already, that I have fallen in love with it. The melodies, riffs and vibe throughout is fantastic. This is definitely on par with ‘Wiseblood’ and ‘Deliverance’ in the CoC back catalogue. After being together for so long, Peppers break and return seems to of awakened something special. It is a long album, but I feel it has so much to offer. The dual guitars, exceptional solos, the mix of metal, punk, sludge and blues. All come together beautifully.