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The greatest fear come true. - 35%

Wacke, June 7th, 2017

Every respectable metalhead is well aware of Glenn Danzig and his mostly awesome work since the late 1970's. The man has one of the seemingly most dedicated and loving fanbases there is, and for good reason I might add. Personally I'm a big fan of the man's work in general, but I wouldn't really call myself a real hardcore fan of his. I'm more somewhere in between the casual and hardcore fan, which means I support the man by buying and enjoying his basic products (i.e. records and some merch). With that said, this review makes it rather hard for me to do.

Before I start digging into this particular album, I just wanna make a quick visit back to Danzig's 2015 covers album Skeletons. That album was just wrong in so many areas. Most fans (and random bullshit critics) would probably agree with me. That thing just came out so wrong with the absolutely horrid production being its main flaw. That was a very unexpected surprise that left some scars, to say the least. Seeing as Danzig seemed to be working on that album and this one simultaneously, my greatest fear before this album's release was the potential ruination of it with the same kind of horrid production. Sadly, this turned out to be the case indeed.

If we take a look at the new music, which after all has been in the potential making for seven years (or more), there are not really a whole lot of changes. It sounds like the new Danzig record you'd expect: a collection of dark, perverse and bluesy heavy metal with simplistic compositions where less is more. Some stuff on here sounds kind of reinnovating, however, with particularly the opening title-track coming to mind. It's a very doomy song which feels a lot more laid back than many other openers of Danzig's past albums. My first reaction to it was how much it sounds like a viking song. It's definitely got a viking-type vibe going in the riff and pace which brings my mind to some blackened viking battle in a snowy mountain area, yet maintains Danzig's signature blues sound.

After the slightly "groundbreaking" opening track we are presented with a collection of typical Danzig tunes. There are not really any great surprises throughout its run but non of the tracks are bad neither. Instead we get a pretty mediocre package of some dark bluesy heavy metal which perhaps feels a bit too run-of-the-mill for Danzig's standards. There certainly are moments of interest to be found here but that's exactly what they are - moments, rather than whole songs. Most of the riffs on this record are forgettable which is something I find unusual for a Danzig album. In fact, I have a really hard time to remember any of the songs despite having given the album several listens. Nothing just stands out particularly much in my opinion.

Danzig is once again backed by (as of now) his long-time touring band, which also did the covers album in 2015 and 2010's Deth Red Sabaoth. I'm not a huge fan of this Danzig line-up but it works fine, I suppose. My biggests concerns with the current Danzig band is the guitars and lack of performance power. Back in the day Danzig was a powerhouse act which sounded like a satanic cross between Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. These days they just sound rather generic. Tommy Victor is also a horrible fit in Danzig in my opinion and I have a hard time dealing with his guitar playing. He loves to use pinch harmonics in a most overkill way and with the horrid production, they just sound shrieky and annoying as fuck. It's kind of the same scenario as with Zakk Wylde in Ozzy's band. Tommy Victor really needs to chill a bit and keep it more toned down.

At the end of the day this is not a very good album. For being the first Danzig release of all original material in seven years, I'm left feeling somewhat disappointed. I don't know if it's so much the songs themselves, or just the package as a whole. The production does indeed drag it down a whole lot more than necessary. With that said, a better production could and would also likely benefit the songs greatly. At the same time the songs are not really that memorable, which leaves this album stuck between a rock and a hard place. I just can't see myself choosing this album when in the mood for some bluesy Danzig metal. In the future, I really hope and strongly suggest that Glenn gets a professional producer as well as changing his guitar player, or at least have Tommy tone down on them dreadful pinch harmonics.

Check-outs: title-track, Last Ride, The Witching Hour.

Keep Your Eyes on the Fuckin' Line - 65%

Twisted_Psychology, June 5th, 2017

The 2010s have been a rather rocky time for Danzig. 2010’s Deth Red Sabaoth was a great way to kick things off and the band has miraculously not had a single lineup change through the whole decade, but any signs of momentum were squandered when Evil Elvis took five years to follow that album up with the poorly received Skeletons cover album in 2015. Unfortunately, the presentation of Black Laden Crown won’t be much help in restoring Danzig’s increasingly memetic reputation.

Black Laden Crown has the same stripped down style as Deth Red Sabaoth, but it definitely isn’t the bluesy throwback that album set out to be. It may actually be the most doom-oriented Danzig release to date, as the majority of songs are based on slow burn tempos and building structures. Songs like “Eyes Ripping Fire” and lead single “Devil on Hwy 9” are upbeat exceptions to this rule but they’re based more on the chugs associated with Circle of Snakes or I Luciferi than the rock stomps of the early 90s classics.

Unfortunately, this promising direction is let down by the rather pedestrian songwriting. Songs like the title track and “Last Ride” show potential and achieve some sense of atmosphere, but the vocal lines aren’t very engaging and a lack of memorable riffs results in the dynamics largely coming short of any explosive highs. There are still some pretty enjoyable songs on here but even the best like “But a Nightmare” and the closing “Pull the Sun” feel more like past album castoffs than true highlights.

And as others have already pointed out, the production quality and performances will definitely be a turnoff for most listeners. The rough mix that proved detrimental to Skeletons sticks around as the tinny guitar, nonexistent bass, and flat drums make this sound more like a demo than an honest to god album. Danzig’s voice is thankfully not as shot as I had feared but it sounds incredibly thin on the heavier songs and standoffish everywhere else. This combined with the black-devil-skull mad libs continuing to masquerade as lyrics really highlights the phoned in nature throughout.

Whether you only know Danzig for his Portlandia cameo or you’re an old school fan still spurned by the loss of John Christ and pals, Black Laden Crown probably won’t do much for you. It isn’t an experimental failure like Blackacidevil, but the shoddy production and songwriting are as hard to sell as the wretched album art implies. Until Danzig can make nice with a professional producer or at least take a crash course in music production software, even the blackest of the black can only enjoy his modern output based on what is hiding in the muck.

Highlights:
“Black Laden Crown”
“But A Nightmare”
“Pull the Sun”

Originally published at http://indymetalvault.com