Review: Corrosion of Conformity – No Cross No Crown

Veteran rockers Corrosion of Conformity are seriously back. Toting the classic line-up of their ‘Deliverance’ era, with Pepper Keenan once again on vocal duties, the uncompromising four-piece are not just on the nostalgia trail. After gauging reactions on the road, it was pretty obvious they still had plenty to offer, so here’s one heavy slab of stoner tinged southern rock designed to riff the listener into submission.

‘Novus Deus’, the first of a number of instrumental pieces tempering the flow of the record, sets a serious tone with atmospheric riffing and bluesy notes wailing, before segueing into ‘The Luddite’. The latest single rocks along to a pulsating riff and a smoking mid-section, setting out their guitar-heavy stall from the word go.

Things continue in a similar vein, the album is peppered with incessant riffs as the classic heavy sound battles with southern roots to pound away at the listener. Tracks like the superb ‘Wolf Named Crow’, which cuts back and forth with a heavy stoner vibe, and the rumbling ‘Old Disaster’ chugging along Sabbath style are a testament to the quality on offer. Even the interludes ooze class, whether it’s the short passage of classical influenced guitar of ‘No Cross’ or ‘Sacred Isolation’ with its melancholic piano clashing with guitar licks.

Although the basic remit is riffs, riffs and more riffs, with numbers like ‘Forgive Me’ and ‘Cast The First Stone’ riffing their way out of the early eighties into the twenty-first century, we do also get the stunning ‘Nothing Left To Say’. Boasting six minutes of moody balladeering drifting easily into a hard rocking chorus, bluesy licks and a cracking instrumental section, it has quality written all over it. Then there is the intriguing finale of ‘No Cross No Crown’ and ‘A Quest To Believe (A Call To The Void)’. The sparse title track meanders mysteriously with doomy undertones and an almost medieval vibe, while the album closer makes for a slow-burning finale of epic proportions.

All in all, this is a mighty fine record from the North Carolina quartet. Ok, it may not be groundbreaking exactly, but it’s as high quality, riff-heavy an album as you are likely to hear – good stuff.

4/5

‘No Cross No Crown’ by Corrosion of Conformity is out now on Nuclear Blast.

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Words by Edward Layland (@EdwardLayland)

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