Danzig, ‘Black Laden Crown’ – Album Review
One might’ve thought that on the heels of last year’s unexpected Misfits reunion at Riot Fest, Glenn Danzig would perhaps be inclined to revisit the horror-punk past on his next album of original material from his namesake outfit. One would be wrong. On Black Laden Crown, he sinks deeper into the blues for the darkest, dirge-filled Danzig work in years.
The title track opener is reminiscent of the sluggish churn start of 2004’s Circle of Snakes, “Wotan’s Procession.” It’s a mood setting piece for the most part, until three-quarters through when gears shift and some of that classic Danzig riffage he’s been peddling since the late ‘80s when he first went solo drops. The first proper song, “Eyes Ripping Fire,” has Glenn’s voice in fine form, harmonizing with himself over the familiar guitar squeals courtesy of Tommy Victor. In fact, Black Laden Crown as a whole features some of his best singing in ages – an impressive feat for a guy who turns 62 in less than a month.
Lyrically, the record is chock full of Danzig-isms like, “Pedal to the metal on a thousand miles of the blackest road you can drive” from first single “Devil on Hwy 9” and “I am just a devil waiting for your pulse to slow,” on “But a Nightmare.” It’s gloomy, it can sometimes produce a chuckle, and it’s without a doubt on the same shadowy path Danzig has been stalking down since day one.
If anything, inspiration appears to be coming from Danzig III: How the Gods Kill, which turns 25 in July and will be celebrated at the 2017 Blackest of the Black Festival. “The Witching Hour,” with its slow build beginning, could’ve easily been slotted alongside “Anything,” “Sistinas” or the title track from that effort. Black Laden Crown closer “Pull the Sun” is another that would fit too, with Glenn putting some of his most soulful singing on display. Longtime listeners are going to be pleased at the end of the day, especially in the nods to the past.
There are moments, like menacing second single “Last Ride,” which are up there with some of the best music Danzig has done; moody, bluesy beats with dark and powerful vocals coming together in a perfect union. Elsewhere, there are quick flashes of heaviness like the end of “But a Nightmare,” which follows a similar chord progression as Slayer’s “Raining Blood,” speeding up throughout the song until the parallel can’t be ignored.
Production-wise, Black Laden Crown sometimes muddled leaving a bit to be desired, but that’s no surprise given Danzig’s renowned taste for old amps, analog recordings and anything else from way back in the day. His influences are firmly set in the ‘50s and ‘60s, whether it’s the fuzzed out leanings of Link Wray’s “The Shadow Knows” or something from a long forgotten cult-classic like the song “Devil’s Angels” from the 1967 film of the same name that he took on for 2015’s covers album Skeletons. And with song titles like “Skulls & Daisies” and “Blackness Falls” from this newest record, the wheel isn’t being reinvented; it’s rolling exactly the way Danzig fans have come to expect.
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