Corrosion of Conformity has a convoluted history, to say the least. Beginning as a hardcore trio in the early ’80s, the band eventually became a five-piece metal band, before promoting guitarist Pepper Keenan to lead vocalist for the landmark Deliverance album in 1994. In recent years, the original three-piece had reconvened without Keenan, starting off strong but eventually running out of steam with 2014’s lackluster IX. By popular demand, No Cross No Crown features Keenan’s return to the fold and is the first album in 18 years to include both him and original drummer Reed Mullin. Can these guys recapture whatever it is that made Deliverance and its follow-up Wiseblood so compelling?

After the first of many instrumental interludes (note to all bands ever: please stop doing this), the album properly kicks off with “The Luddite.” With a menacing riff and a shouted vocal approach, this track could have easily been on the band’s last Keenan-fronted album, 2005’s criminally overlooked In The Arms of God. The same statement could apply to the aggressive “Cast The First Stone,” which features some tasty harmonized soloing by guitarist Woodroe Weatherman. This is nice and all, but I can’t help but feel that something’s missing. It’s not until track five, “Wolf Named Crow,” that No Cross produces anything that can truly stand alongside their best work.

While Keenan’s return is clearly the selling point here, his voice has seen better days. The man sounds fairly haggard on a good portion of the record, and his diminished range results in a few melodies that don’t quite stick the landing. He seems to compensate for this by hollering more than singing, which is a waste of one of his distinctive voice. Similarly, Mullin’s drum chops are not what they once were, and there’re several instances where he has audibly overextended himself. It’s rare that I wish for a producer or record label to exert some quality control, but No Cross would probably have benefited from such an intervention.

“Little Man” is this album’s attempt at “Albatross” pt. II, with a liberal dose of ZZ Top swagger and a soulful Keenan vocal (not to mention a riff borrowed from “Albatross” itself). “Forgive Me” is an uptempo boogie, all fun and games until it takes a darker turn towards the middle of the song. On the more melodic side, “Nothing Left To Say” is a bluesy slow jam in the “13 Angels”/”Redemption City” mold, an environment where Keenan’s weathered voice actually works to the song’s advantage. This is also one of several tracks where Mike Dean’s tasteful bass work manages to elevate an entire song.

The back half of No Cross gets considerably stranger than side A. The catchy and nostalgic “Old Disaster” works well, as does the Trouble-referencing “E.L.M.” The title track is comprised of little more than a foreboding clean guitar riff and some spoken/whispered vocals, and unfortunately, it goes nowhere fast. “A Quest To Believe (A Call From The Void)” is as long as its title implies, all slow-motion doom riffs and some beautiful minor-key guitar harmonies from Weatherman. The album ends with a bizarre cover of Queen‘s “Son and Daughter,” which works surprisingly well, but would’ve worked even better as a bonus track or b-side.

No Cross No Crown will surely feel familiar enough to any longtime COC fan, and there’s some comfort in that. However, the band’s songwriting seems to be on autopilot, coasting on Keenan’s mere presence and the band’s distinctive style. At 15 tracks long, the record could certainly use some editing, and the lack of focus is somewhat disconcerting. No Cross No Crown rarely comes close to the heights that Corrosion of Conformity ascended in the mid-90s, though nothing here remotely qualifies as “bad.” If this review sounds harsh, it’s because I had high expectations.


Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Websites: coc.com | facebook.com/corrosionofconformity
Releases Worldwide: January 12th, 2018

  • This is my first time hearing about COC, guess I’ll have to give it a shot.

    • Thë Brycërøy

      Gotta be gentle with your first experience with CoC. Or, so I’m told.

      • Dan

        Yeah, pansies need not apply.

    • dedseed1

      It’s really sad to see when someone has been COC blocked…

  • Alexandre Barata

    Who doesn’t like a great CoC??

    Have yet to hear this, just came in to write that!

    • Matt slatz

      Goatpenis loves CoC

    • Thë Brycërøy

      When it comes to CoC, go big, or go home!

    • Dr_Fisting

      I’m starting an all-midget COC cover band, like Mini Kiss. The band will be called….TINY COC.

      • Matt slatz

        Now that is quality material….well played

  • Absolomb

    I don’t know if that band photo is Corrosion or Mastodon in 10 years…

  • Brutalist_Receptacle

    Coming soon to the Discovery Network:

    Dodge Dynasty

  • Aidan Riess

    So far Shin Ken by Persefone is the only album I’ve listened to that really pulls off constant instrumental interludes. This is still decent though

    • Thë Brycërøy

      Shin Ken just kicks ass in general.

  • basstard

    Been through it a few times now. Some amazing Thin Lizzy style guitar tricks going on that pop up in every song. Love that. More of a guitar showcase album than in the past. Lots of harmonizing and soloing. They did some cool stuff with his voice imo. Sometimes it doesn’t even sound like him and not in a bad way per say, studio effects be damned or whatever…

    There are at least 5-6 stone cold classic CoC songs on here that can hold up with the rest of their discog. The rest at least has some nifty ripping guitar stuff. Definitely a worthy album. So glad to have new tunes from these guys.

  • DIMENSIONAL BLEEDTHROUGH

    Fun fact: I know two different bums who both claim to be former members of COC, and they hate each other.

    (I live in NC)

    • Kryopsis

      Convince them to fight each-other and you can start an underground COC fighting ring.

      • DIMENSIONAL BLEEDTHROUGH

        This would take zero convincing.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      They might be telling you the truth. I mean, just look at the band picture and you just can’t deny that it looks like at LEAST one bum is a current member of Corrosion Of Conformity.

  • Good job with mimicking the sound of a ringing intercom at 2:03. I swear I took off my headphones and stood at attention like some meerkat.

  • Brett Kendall

    “Redneck Metal” is an appropriate tag for these guys. I’d heard so much positive but seeing them live was a real disappointment. If you like southern white-boy blues then maybe this is your thing. I’m giving it a wide pass.

    • basstard

      Did their appearance trigger your SJW sensibilities?

      • Sure, that must be it.

        • basstard

          I bet you’re a big fan of Pantera too?

          • You said it, so it must be true.

          • basstard

            Well they’re rednecks from the south so their music sucks.

          • Not quite: They’re rednecks from the south AND their music sucks. The statistical probability that one leads to the other is something I am not able to comment on.

          • basstard

            oh I thought that was your original point above.

            Guess I was confused when you said you were disappointed when you “saw” them live. They crush it live and always sound amazing, so that didn’t really compute. I was an insta-fan for life when I first saw them way back when.

          • Dennis Finan Jr

            Pepper is hispanic you fucking dolt.

          • Well, I guess that makes him a wannabe southern red-neck you fucking idiot.

          • Dennis Finan Jr

            Nah, just means you are leftist pussy that should of stayed in your moms cunt because you cant handle real life

  • Levly

    In the Arms of God is such a great record. Is it really “criminally overlooked”? I thought it was pretty widely accepted as one of their best. Btw, what do you all think of Blind? It’s also supposed to be one of their best but I was never really convinced.

    Anyway, great review as always. I love this band but it doesn’t sound like there’s much reason to listen to this rather than to one of their classics.

    • LastingDose

      Blind would’ve been even better with just Pepper writing lyrics and singing – but it’s still great

    • Dr_Fisting

      Blind is fantastic, but very much a one-off in the COC catalog. They never had that lineup or that style again.

      Also: I think what I meant by “overlooked” is that a “ItAoG didn’t get nearly the success or recognition that, say, “Wiseblood”” did, despite it being an almost equally good record. I suspect some of the more casual COC fans don’t even know it exists.

    • Adam

      Always liked these guys, but Blind has always been my favorite by them, regardless of style/lineup. Agell’s vocals and the songwriting were one of a kind.

      • Dennis Finan Jr

        Stop it. Your not a fan then. Album is old as fuck and the dude sang on one album, and the best song was with pepper

    • basstard

      Lots of reasons to listen to this. They haven’t released anything new with this lineup in 12-13 years. Its classic CoC man. Blind rules. ItAoG stumbles a bit in the middle, but overall its a solid album. The drumming is a little strange and over the top.

  • Gage

    *yawn*

  • LastingDose

    Never heard anyone with good taste in music ever gripe about interludes

    • Dr_Fisting

      There’s a first time for everything, I guess.

    • ToddRob64

      Well guess I don’t have good taste in music then. Sometimes they are used well other times they feel obligatory and you can hear the difference.

    • Bryan Barkman

      I wind up skipping them much of the time. /shrug

  • The Unicorn

    Ugh, Pepper sounds like shit! Bring back Karl Agell.

    • basstard

      They toured with the “Blind” version of CoC not too long ago. Karl and Reed were there with hired jobbers filling in the rest.

    • Dan

      Don’t be an idiot.

      • The Unicorn

        Don’t call people idiots man. C’mon.

    • As much as I love Agell on Blind, I actually have heard him live recently, 2 years ago in SF I think. He should not come back.

      • The Unicorn

        His voice is shot? Bummer. Blind was a critical album of my youth.

        • Just kinda a lot of old and prob not fit for long stretch touring.

  • This isn’t a bad album, but every time I see that a new CoC album is coming up, I get my hopes up just a little bit, that the album will be awesome, and it never is. When will I learn?!?!

    • Dan

      Huh? In The Arms Of God shreds. Your post makes no sense.

  • Dan

    AMG, you speak of your fondness for ITAOG, but you gig PK for hollering on NCNC? Not sure how much you actually listened to ITAOG, buy PK employs that “hollering” style on some of the best cuts on ITAOG. I have yet to hear the new disc in it’s entirety, so I’ll reserve some judgement.

    • Dr_Fisting

      I like ITAOG….but I like Deliverance and Wiseblood more.
      Once you hear the new album in its entirety, you may hear what I”m talking about. Or not.
      Also, AMG and I are two different people.

      • Dan

        Waiting anxiously by my mailbox……

  • The_Martus

    OK, I’ve had enough to drink, so now you’re going to get my true confessional, life story….
    One day, almost 10 years ago, a chance encounter with a mixed CD introduced me to ‘Clean My Wounds’. That song was my light bulb moment. I couldn’t get enough of it – and it introduced me to the idea that there was a whole world of magnificent music out there that just was not being played on our few, commercial radio stations.
    And I wanted more, so I hit the internet and discovered just how big the music scene was. And just how many tossers there were out there.
    But in my search I stumbled on a little fledgling website called Angry Metal Guy and read a review for Anathema’s ‘We’re Here Because We’re Here’, and that became one of my defining albums.
    Since then I think I have read every AMG review, and almost every discussion. A lot of the music covered is too brutal for me – but I do find my gems I would not find anywhere else. I have loved the refreshing, unbiased, ad-free tone of the reviews posted here and the (mostly) tosser free community that responds to them.
    Deliverance, Wiseblood, AVD and ItAoG all get regular plays, so I guess I’m a bit of a Pepper fan, and should probably give this a listen.
    So, um, yeah. I really love youse guys, and I think I’ll go get another whiskey…

  • Tofu muncher

    Reading the tag Doom Metal got me confused. I thought this was a different CoC than what I heard/liked decades ago… The embedded track intrigued me though.

  • Dr Tronley

    ok Im going to give COC with Pepper a little slack here!…why ? because the very first part of your review what they were up against 13 Years since Pepper played with the band! 18 years since Reed and Pepper played on a album together!! yup you had way to high expectations to think you were going to get an album like Deliverance! its like asking Mike tyson to knock out the current heavy weight in the first round. overall the album holds up what you would hope for in a new COC album they clearly worked hard on the album its all good signs from a old classic band and possibly the next album might come closer to your expectations if the band can keep all members long enough!

    • Dr_Fisting

      It’s worth mentioning that Mike Tyson is not a professional boxer anymore, and if he got in the ring today, he’d get the shit beat out of him.

  • Slattsy

    I can see where you’re coming from with the Pepper / Reed comments, but that’s actually what I love about CoC (and Down) – that it’s just honest, rough around the edges jamming. That’s not to take away from what they’ve made here – it’s a solid album with killer riffs and harmonies.