Thursday 1 June 2017

Review: Danzig – 'Black Laden Crown'

'Black Laden Crown'

The evil Elvis, Glenn Danzig and cohorts return with their eleventh full-length studio album, 'Black Laden Crown'. It's been seven long years since the last collection of Danzig originals 'Deth Red Saboath' was released to overall favourable reviews and saw a continuation of the return to form carried over from 2006's 'Circle Of Snakes'. Though the recent output hasn't matched the dizzying heights of the first four Danzig releases, it has been in keeping with his strongest works, and 'Black Laden Crown' shows a sharpening of focus back to what made those first albums great.

It's undeniable that Glenn Danzig is very protective of his image and art and that ever present self-consciousness may cause him to second guess a lot of his previous experimentation and as a result it has fallen short of the mark. 'Black Laden Crown' however feels very much like Danzig has come to terms with growing older and as a result has played to his strengths without exposing his limitations. The raw stripped back construction is reminiscent of 'Danzig I' and the the swampy blues metal riffs and rhythmic bludgeoning pace are the main focus and Danzig's unmistakable croon becomes more textual and more powerful when utilised.

Songs such as 'Black Laden Crown', 'Eyes Ripping Fire', 'Last Ride', 'The Witching Hour', 'Skulls & Daisies', and 'Blackness Falls' hark back to the hard blues of the first two albums and the sombre tenderness of 'How The Gods Kill' which will undoubtedly satisfy a lot of fans. With Danzig changing up his vocal delivery it is also helped that for the first time Tommy Victor's guitar style feels 100% compatible with the classic Danzig sound and isn't trying to pull back into his work with Prong.

The only real misstep on the album is the lead single 'Devil On HWY 9'. In it's current form it feels rushed and unfinished (which is unlikely considering the band spent three years on this album). The vocals don't sit right in the mix and it doesn't fully gel. 'Eyes Ripping Fire' or 'Last Ride' would have been a better choice to bring the right kind of attention to the album.

In terms of production it is raw, stripped back and very rough around the edges, but aside from the afore mentioned 'Devil...' it works with the more straightforward and focused writing and performance. Danzig's vocals sit a little lower in the mix and the guitar a little higher and the balance works really nicely.

'Black Laden Crown' shows a band that is on the right path. It may not have the youthful energy of his early work, but the subtlety and passion of the performances definitely work better than on any recent output. It's an album that fits in and compliments the highlights of his career, and will translate well into his live arsenal. Hopefully this will see a reinvigorated band turn round original material a little quicker next time around.  

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