Corrosion of Conformity may not be the biggest band in the world and some of the population may not even be aware that they are about to drop their latest opus, No Cross No Crown, in the next few days, but then there are a great many of us who wait with baited breath in anticipation.
The band have had their ups and downs over the years, from the heights of 1995 and their appearance opening at Donington in front of 80,000 people to various line up changes and long term hiatuses. Having reformed in 2010 with the Animosity line up of the band the buzz around them started to form. By 2014 they had brought Pepper Keenan back into the fold and the Deliverance reunion was on.
As a teenager, that 1995 Donington appearance helped shape my musical landscape, their performance that day set me on a path of musical discovery that I wouldn't have found without them. So following on from the reunion tours, news that the Deliverance era line up were recording again got me a little bit moist to say the least. But can they rekindle the energy, the atmosphere, the spark that got so many fans like me excited back in the day. Will No Cross No Crown deliver the goods for the hardy Corrosion of Conformity fan?
Opening with instrumental Novus Deus this doesn't sound like traditional Corrosion of Conformity. Its gritty, its dark, its atmospheric! The short intro leads directly into the real album opener The Luddite, the menacing sound and feel continues. Whilst Keenan's voice is distinctive, the slow growl of the tune, forceful in nature delivers something new and different from what you'd expect. But this is no bad thing, for me this is a tremendous track nearing perfection but yet may not be a favourite of the purists.
Cast the First Stone returns to the more recognisable sound of the band, the guitars have that familiar angst ridden edge and Reed Mullins familiar drum beat drives the band along. This continues through the rest of the first half of the album and with the familiar feel, speed and aggression comes a warm feeling of contentment that this is the same band I know and love.
Forgive Me adds a little twist with hints of Thin Lizzy's long standing influence coming through in Woody's riffs. Nothing Left To Say offers a softer break, slow acoustic guitars soft vocals and a mellow melodic theme, which is continued through Sacred Isolation before normal service is resumed.
This may not be the most anticipated album of the year for most, however for those like me, we've waited a long time for this. The album does not fail to deliver, from the menacing start that The Luddite makes through to the title track at the end, this is an album worthy of the Corrosion of Conformity brand. Unique in places but ultimately unmistakable and the perfect way to start 2018.