I remember being instantly taken with the sound of Danzig‘s self-titled debut when I saw the video for “Twist of Cain” on MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball. Sure, I knew Mr. Danzig from The Misfits and Samhain, but this was a much different beast. Metal, meaty, manly and catchy as all get out. Thus began my fandom for the man’s solo career, which burned brightly from 1988 to 1996, at which time the biscuit wheels came off the gravy train to the sickening sounds of electronica. Steel Druhm raves for no man, and as Danzig explored weirder and weirder electronica-soaked soundscapes, I was forced to leave the Luci-hall. 2010s Ded Red Sabaoth was hailed as a return to his grim, doom-grooving ways, and it was easily the best thing the man released in 15 years, but still couldn’t touch the classic albums with 50 foot mesh shirt. After a nearly 6 year wait, we finally get new material from New Jersey’s second-most infamous devil. Has the Shirtless One finally reclaimed his grip on the pec-metal genre? Will mothers everywhere shudder anew at the prospect of their daughter dating the dark lord of doom rock? So many questions abound…

I’ll admit going into Black Laden Crown with expectations at low ebb, as Danizg‘s 2015 cover album Skeletons was righteous garbage. With the opening title-track however, prospects brightened and hope began to flicker faintly. Doomy like a funeral march, the dirgy riffs set the mood perfectly, and when Glenn’s Evil Elvis baritone comes in, all seems right in the underworld again. This is really good stuff and could have easily appeared on Danzig II. Glenn’s vocals sound youthful and it feels like a time warp back to the glory days of black wings and killer wolves.

Followups like “Eyes Ripping Fire” and “Devil on Hwy 9” aren’t quite up to the opener’s level, but they’re solid, mid-tempo biker doom with a murky, Stygian charm. “Devil on Hwy 9” almost sounds like something left over from White Zombie‘s La Sexorcisto album with Danzig guesting on vocals. It’s rudimentary music-wise, but succeeds on attitude and moxie alone.  “Last Ride” is a return to the atmosphere of his debut with a chorus that sticks, and Prong‘s Tommy Victor spices things up with a trippy, 70s style twist to his solo. Cuts like “The Witching Hour” roil with evil energy, and the album wraps up well with the second best cut, the simmering serial killer love song “Pull the Sun,” which is like a companion piece to older chestnuts “Stalker Song” and “Sistanas.”

All nine songs are good, though “Blackness Falls” runs about 2 minutes too long, and the album’s mostly mid-tempo cruise control would have benefited from a few more upbeat, urgent moments. My biggest issue with Black Laden Crown is the way Danzig’s vocals were recorded. Sometimes it’s as if he was too far away from the mic while laying down his vocals, and others times too close, as there’s audible clipping and distortion when he hits his patented he-man belly bellows. For such an established veteran act so dependent on the vocals to carry the show, this seems particularly perplexing.

Production issues aside, it’s a revelation of sorts how good Danzig sounds. Even on Deth Red Sabaoth his vocals seemed worn out at times, but he sounds re-energized and revitalized here. Sure, he’s lost something off his fastball since the 90s when his chest-thumping vocal heroics garnered him fans far afield of metal and punk, but for a man in his 60s (damn, that makes me feel olde by extension), Glenn can still bring something to the monster mash. Musically, this is a more brooding, mid-tempo platter than the often aggressive Deth Red. I hesitate to call it introspective or reflective as he’s still singing about devils, highways and witching hours, but the mood is definitely one of a sullen, pensive icon in semi-repose. Tommy Victor continues his long-time associate with Danzig, delivering a respectable collection of heavy, memorable riffs and fat grooves, along with some out of left field soloing and jangled fretboard abuse. I still miss John Christ but Tommy does an admirable job of keeping things edgy and interesting.

Black Laden Crown is a much better album than I expected at this point in Danzig‘s career. It’s consistently good, at times even great and gets its hooks deeper in your flesh with every spin. It can’t equal the early classics, but it can sit aside Deth Red as a respectable catalog capstone after so much mid-period pablum. It’s gritty, tough doom rock for black souls and that’s all I need from the man, the myth, the Lodi, New Jersey legend with the blood soaked lawn sprinklers. Danzig, motherfucker!


Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 276 kbps mp3
Label: Nuclear Blast (NA) | AFM Records (EU)
Websites: danzig-verotik.comfacebook.com/Danzig
Releases Worldwide: May 26th, 2017

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  • HeavyMetalHamster

    Sigourney Danzig is sounding rejuvenated!
    Great review!

  • David Christian Dalton

    How anyone can be even remotely forgiving of this is beyond my comprehension. It’s absurd. The man’s voice is completely shot and he sounds absolutely terrible. The songs sound as though they were penned by methed-out 40-somethings who were actually a bit too young to have witnessed Danzig the first time around. It sounds as though Danzig flew to France and recorded a whole record at Chris Holme’s trailer in Cannes using a Roland TR-909 drum machine. Ugh.

    • I don’t think we listened to the same album.

      • David Christian Dalton

        It states right there, “[Give in to your anger…].” I’m only doing what the Law™ requires of me!

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      Judging from the embedded track, I was happy to hear Glenn’s voice is still in top form. He is still his good (evil?) old self. If I had any complains it would be for the guitar sound which has a “modern” edgy tone that doesn’t match that well with Glenn’s vocals.

      • gus rodrigues

        completely agree with your assessment. can’t understand people saying that his voice is shot…

    • dblbass

      ….Chris Holmes trailor…..now THATS funny!!!

  • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

    Everything about this is terrible. Glenn sounds terrible, the production/sound is terrible and the songs are no good 0.5 at best. Horrible. Fricken. Album

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      Judging just from the embedded track his vocals sound fine.

      • Danzig seems to be getting some hate for no reason.

        • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

          I know some people dislike Glenn Danzig because of his personality. Like the guy or not, his voice is as good as ever.

          • Michael Saurette

            Not at all. He sounds haggard on this one. Its embarrassing.

          • The guy is 61 or 62. Does this sound like he’s still in this 30s? No, but his voice is certainly not shot. I think there’s some Danzig hate going on.

          • Michael Saurette

            I’m just calling it like I hear em. You are right though. He definitely doesnt sound like he’s in his 30s

          • I’ve always “disliked”, or rather “not enjoyed” Danzig for the vocals and the music, but I’m not a hater, I’m rather indifferent.

            If indifferent is unbiased, than my opinion is he has the same love/hate vocal as back in the days. The vocals in the embedded song might perhaps not have as much peaked punch as in some songs, but he seems to retain his vocal skills nonetheless.

        • Carlos Marrickvillian

          He always does drives me nuts.

  • Sean Sky

    The single track on Spotify right now sounds horrendous. I honestly can’t tell if my headphones are broken or if something is wrong with the file they uploaded on there. It sounds like a low quality mp3 from Napster in the 90’s.

  • GardensTale

    But that album art…

  • Jason

    Is AFM his European distributor? For some reason, I thought this was on Nuclear Blast.

    I’m a casual Danzig fan, so I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this one yet.

    • Nuclear Blast for North America, AFM for Europe apparently.

  • Eldritch Elitist

    I sure do love me some subtle, tasteful cover art.

    • Monsterth Goatom

      It’s nice the armorer gave her nipple indents. I can relate to the increase in comfort. My new ski boot liners have space on the sides for the malleoli. Jeepers, what a difference! However, she might want to try some baby powder, as some chaffing might occur from skin on metal.

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        I had to google “malleoli”. I just increased my culture level today thanks to you.

      • Eli Valcik

        I think your missing the bigger picture. How the hell does she even squeeze into that thing? Look at that waist line, sweet zombie Jesus!

    • De2013

      We’ve seen better work from Simon Bisley indeed.

  • Bas

    Not sure if I’d call it ‘very good’, but at least good (last ride: very good, devil on hwy 9: mwa, mixed).
    A kind of bad sound somehow fits.
    Tommy Victors playing sounds cool, not trying to imitate the somehow more rootsy style of the old albums while at the same time it doesnt sound not too Prongy.
    Of course nothing can touch the four amazing pre-techno albums (thought the first one was not too bad, this.. black or red devil something.., just not Danzig).
    The cover pulls things down.. cartoon/comic does not combine with the atmosphere I love from the old stuff.

  • Jeanclaudevandamage

    Yuk.

  • De2013

    Pec-metal? Really? Really? It’s a genre?

    Serious though, being a huge Danzig fan myself since Her Black Wings blasted on MTV’s Head Banger’s Ball, I was really really excited about this upcoming release and hoped it could top DRS. I pre-ordered it and hoped for the best.

    Seeing this review, got my nervous, considering the total lack of coverage of his latest Skeletons, not a pièce de résistance per se; an album which was really … different to say the least.

    So when Mr Steel answers with “All nine songs are good” and “how good Danzig sounds” I’m happy happy happy

    So thank you for the excellent review. I can’t wait for my copy to arrive.

  • R.Daneel Olivaw
  • The Unicorn

    Barfalicious!

  • Wes Allen

    Is it pec-metal or is it tit-metal?

  • EnslavedEld73

    I’m happy this got a good review. Now I’m looking forward to it. The biggest thing that bothers me with modern danzig is the boring guitarist. With the constant pinch harmonics and too many generic metal riffs. John christ was awesome because his evil riffs were all blues based, just like glenn’s vocals.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      This could very well had been my own opinion if it wasn’t written by you.

    • Chris_Martin

      Tommy Victor without pinch harmonics would be like Chicago without hot dogs. It’s inconceivable.

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    Is that Uma Thurman on the cover?

  • I’m a HUGE Danzig fan, but after hearing the 2 songs that have been made public already, my expectations are now super low. Aside from being a 9 song album in 2017 (which is an act of pure laziness) and the laughably bad cover art, I’m still hoping it won’t be the complete disaster that I’m totally expecting.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      Wrong place to complain about a short album…

    • It’s a solid, enjoyable album at nine songs. Why does it need more songs? That’s silly.

      • Back in the day when vinyl was the primary means of getting music, 9 songs was acceptable because sometimes that’s all that would physically fit. But in the age of CDs and digital music, if you’re putting out 9 songs, you’re ripping people off if you’re charging full price. Plus, it took 7 years to write 9 songs. Weak.

        • The only people getting ripped off in 2017 by a nine song album are people who buy digitally-sourced overpriced noisy vinyl. …and they’re getting ripped off anyway most of the time. Everyone else is paying less for CDs, close to nothing for streaming, or nothing at all.

          “Full price” for a CD today averages a few dollars less what it was then. We’re actually paying less for CDs now than in 1989. And that’s not even factoring in inflation.

        • Definitely don’t agree. I routinely lower album scores because bands deliver 12 songs and only 8-9 are actually good with the rest being filler. I’d take an album with 8-9 good songs over one with a bunch of filler any day. The existence of CDs doesn’t mean artists have to add sub-par material.

    • Michael Saurette

      Lmao yeah just what we need. A double album of modern Danzig. Puke.

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      Nothing shits me more than stupidly long albums full of songs for the sake of it.
      I wish more artists would release punchy concise albums of their best material…

      • The problem is that few aging artists in their 60s like Danzig are churning out 9 winners regardless of the length of the album so the more songs the guy records, the better chance we’ll end up with a handful of decent tunes.

        • But younger artists are churning out 11-14 winners per album? Hardly. I review a lot of albums every year and the majority of them contain filler tracks that should have been left off entirely. How is getting a few junk tracks the same as getting more bang for your buck exactly?

  • Reese Burns

    To my ears, this is on the same level as Skeletons. I just simply can’t bring myself to like it. I’ve tried, I have this thing four listens, and I just don’t like it. His voice is shot beyond repair, and the riffs aren’t much better. I wish I could enjoy it as much as most others seem to be.

    • Maybe you were cursed. See a shaman.

  • gus rodrigues

    love danzig 1 through 4, but since then it has been nothing but disappointments. now, i enjoyed the embedded track and will give this one a try before buying.

  • Michael Saurette

    Danzig sounds anything but youthful here. He needs to find a fill in if he wants to keep writing music.

  • ActualBastard

    Thank god multiple people have already conplained about the covert art. Here’s one more complaint: it’s bad.

  • Rodrigo Soto

    That neck though.

  • I absolutely hated every second of Skeletons but after listening to Last Ride I will give this album a chance. The first four Danzig albums are glorious and I’m glad he’s got more than just fumes left in the tank these days.

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      yep, was just about to make the exact same comment.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    Seems like there’s a lot of people here obviously jealous of how tough Danzig is.

  • Tofu muncher

    The embedded track kinda remind me of Mother, notably the opening, and the rest of the song sound crazy beautiful. I do hope this album doesn’t suck.

  • Wilhelm

    The mixing sounds horrible, whenever Danzig shouts, it is grating on the ears. In addition, maybe a bit of studio magic is needed. I like the song though, simple but effective.

  • Horns up, head down. Danzig, mother fuckers. Must be interesting to know you write the soundtrack to bikers loading guns and sharpening knives before a brawl.

  • Here’s Johnny

    The awful production and cover is enough to get this album 1.5/5. I honestly thought it was a parody first time i heard it. Saille got a shit review on this site(despite good music) because of the production. Why is Danzig different, especially when this albums music clearly sucks.

    • It got a good score because I like and have been spinning it a whole lot. Are we basing scores on covers now?

      • Here’s Johnny

        haha i should have put cover in brackets as i wasn’t being serious. this album is unlistenable for me.

  • lennymccall

    Just picked it up. Full disclosure I’ve been a HUGE fan of everything Glenn has ever done, Skeletons not withstanding…
    I’m digging it so far! I will say I was very weary due to the poor choice of Hwy 9 being the first single released. Seems to be the weakest track with the worst vocals and production, guess it was just a big middle finger to all the haters pre-release of the record?? I don’t know just a weird choice. They rest sounds like good ol Danzig for anyone who was already into him. Not winning over anyone new with it I’m sure tho.

  • John Mortslake

    I think its a good album. Not great, but good!
    See that a lot of people say that his voice is shot. I dont think they have listened to the album at all, just the “Devils Hwy 9” clip and maybe “Last ride”. I believe that Danzigs voice got fucked around recording BlackAciDevil , maybe due to years of howling and treating his voice wrong. But if you listen on the later records , its way better than on 6;66 to COS. The age thing doesnt do things alot easier. But on some tracks he really shines.
    About the album art, Whats the deal?
    People rag on it like its a turd on the sideway, why?
    Its along the lines with what he has done before. Look at Circle Of Snakes as example. Its by a comic artist and its like the Verotik comics. Cant believe people is so raging about it, but its good it awakes feelings, maybe thats the point?

    It might have something to do with the popular thing called Rag on Danzig cause its fun and all people do it!
    It really is a phenomen.
    But guess what , thing is getting old, just like Glenn is.
    All the jokes and memes is getting old ones. They wont survive in the long run, but Danzigs legacy in music will. Wheter you like it or not.
    Oh one more thing !
    Im a moderate fan, not a fanboy, thank you.