Album Review: Danzig – “Black Laden Crown”
It’s been quite a while now since we last had a genuinely good Danzig album, 1994’s Danzig 4 to be precise. Since then, a mix of revolving door line-ups and ill-advised trend chasing have seen quite a bit of the shine come off the Evil Elvis and his crew. Last year’s covers album Skeletons however was a mostly fairly enjoyable romp through some of ol’ Glenn’s influences, and gave some of us hope that he might just be able to carry some of that energy over into a new effort. I mean after all, those awesome first four Danzig albums, not to mention the pioneering work he did with The Misfits back in the day, can’t have been a total fluke right?
I’m gonna say it right now, and it’s bloody annoying to have to do so, but on the evidence of “Black Laden Crown”, those hopes were sadly misplaced. There’s no two ways about it – this is a bloody terrible album which somehow manages to be both full of chest-beating self-important hollow bombast, and still sound half-finished, ill thought-out and under-produced at the same time. Which is perversely impressive in its own way, but it makes the resulting 45 minutes about as much fun as extended root canal surgery without the anaesthetic.
The opening six minute title track sets the way for nine pretty much interchangeable dull-as-ditchwater dirges, each of which lurches in with a riff which sounds like something from Black Sabbath’s post-Master of Reality pre-Heaven And Hell coked up mid-’70s quality slump before Glenn’s vocals kick in. Except, where once his Satanic Elvis croon was impressive in its menace, here he sounds like the ravages of time have properly caught up with him as he appears to be perpetually half a note off key. There’s times such as on the one fast-paced effort Devil On Hwy9 where his attempts at snarling along just sound incredibly awkward, as if he’s fronting some dire third division sub-Stone Temple Pilots grunge band circa 1996.
And to be honest, it doesn’t get any better. Eyes Ripping Fire, Last Ride, The Witching Hour, Blackness Falls, Pull The Sun, the formula’s the same on every one of them. One bludgeoning elephantine riff endlessly regurgitated throughout, while the vocals blare atonally over the top and the piercing solo lines (which really aren’t helped by the terrible flat production mix) make jabbing a needle into your ears seem like a tempting option.
Honestly, I could go on and on about the things that are wrong with this album, like the fact that six of the nine tracks are needlessly five minutes plus, or the way that several songs simply just seem to fade out once the band get bored (although not soon enough quite honestly), but I think you probably get the picture. Let’s just say that this one can be safely skipped.
Danzig have been guilty of some bad musical misjudgements over the years, but I can't honestly ever remember them sounding this utterly dull. Black Laden Crown is a joyless overlong fun-free drudge of an album lacking tunes, imagination and, most criminally of all, effort. A nadir, it seems, has been reached. Goodbye Glenn.