Danzig ‘Black Laden Crown’ Review: Danzig returns with his first album of original material since 2010’s ‘Deth Red Sabaoth.’
Its been awhile since we’ve heard new music from Danzig: while his covers album Skeletons came out in 2015, he hasn’t released any original music since 2010’s Deth Red Sabaoath. But that’s about to change with the release of Black Laden Crown (due out May 26th on Nuclear Blast Records).
The album kicks off with the title track, which starts off as a funereal dirge before guitarist Tommy Victor (of Prong fame, who pulls double duty on bass) launches into a serrated, groove metal riff.
Black Laden Crown is mostly a down tempo affair, showing a sense of restraint, be it the atmospheric textures on Last Ride (which recalls Thirteen, a song he originally wrote for Johnny Cash), or The Witching Hour, a goth ballad augmented by arpeggiated guitar and Danzig’s soulful vocals.
In sound and dynamics, the album hearkens back to his underrated 1994 effort Danzig 4p and 2002’s back to basics bruiser Danzig 777: I Luciferi.
That’s not to say he’s abandoned his blues metal beginnings: the album’s first single, the slamming Devil on Hwy 9, and the simmering (and awesomely titled) Skull and Daisies are old-school charmers, featuring ominous riffs and punchy percussion.
Album closer Pull The Sun pulls all Danzig’s disparate elements together for an epic anthemic track featuring his best vocal performance on the album.
Lyrically Danzig treads familiar ground, focusing on the occult, the morbid and arcane, adding to the haunted house grandeur. His backing band expand their scope however: Victor relies less on pinch harmonics (there’s still plenty, but used more judiciously) and the revolving cast of drummers (including Karl Rockfist, Dirk Verbeuren and Danzig vets Johnny Kelly and Joey Castillo) keeps things lively.
Black Laden Crown features the same crude production as his past few releases (including his 2015 cover album Skeletons), and that proves distracting at times: the guitars often sound tinny, and Danzig’s vocals sound hoarse on several tracks. The fact that his singing often overpowers the mix gives a lack of balance to the proceedings as well.
He isn’t beholden to great production to get his message across, of course (see his work with The Misfits and Samhain), but at this stage in the game his material deserves more attention to detail. Hardcore Danzig fans like myself can let these flaws go, but one prays to Satan that Rick Rubin will return to the fold some day to give a more defined result.
That being said, Black Laden Crown has plenty to offer for metal fans to enjoy. Danzig may be in his 60’s, but he’s still a big kid at heart, indulging in spooky theatrics and trips to the dark side that remain infectious for his faithful black clad flock. He’s the king of his own musical microcosm and won’t be abdicating the throne anytime soon.
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