Album review: DANZIG – Black Laden Crown

AFM Records [Release date 26.05.17]

My history with Glenn Danzig as a solo artist has been kinda iffy. I loved his stuff with The Misfits and Samhain, and the first three solo Danzig albums are stunningly brilliant. The fourth had some OK moments, but after that it went downhill for me, and quick. It wasn’t until Circle of Snakes that I started hearing some more stuff I enjoyed; then with Deth Red Saboath I found it to be a fitting return of Elvis Morrison served up from the bowels of Hell. Then a covers album (Skeletons) in 2015 that really left me cold. Some of the covers weren’t bad, but most just weren’t good at all. Danzig are back with the 10threlease of original material entitled Black Laden Crown, and it’s a real mixed bag for me.

First the Good: Glenn himself sounds in tip top shape. His voice, an eerie mix of Elvis Presley and Jim Morrison drenched in a gothic, sinister delivery that has become his gimmick, sounds better than ever. His smooth, soulful approach never fails to hit the mark. Rarely have I taken issue with his performances in particular (usually it was forays into styles that left me scratching my head.)

Next the Bad: The lyrics are a bit much for me to take seriously. Maybe it’s my advanced age, but the kitsch of dark imagery delivered in his unique swagger (like Satan’s very own Dean Martin) just leaves me chuckling and shaking my head. Maybe for the younger, more impressionable fans that haven’t had the dark truth of reality (i.e. adulthood) creep in or maybe you’re a diehard who thinks Glenn can do no wrong (and that’s fine too. I have those bands/performers too. It’s life,) this album will speak to their souls, but I ain’t buying it.

Finally the Ugly: I suppose the reason why Glenn sounds so great is because his voice is so much louder and more prominent than the music. I get that he’s the star of the band, but a more even mix would’ve made it sound a lot better (I think.) However, I’m really disappointed in the guitar work of Tommy Victor. He’s usually pretty good about setting a good tone to any album he’s on, but he seems way off his game this time around. The guitar tone is horrendous and there are cringe-worthy moments with some of the playing (not many, but I distinctly recall a couple times where he did something that just was not pleasing to the ear.) And most of the songs just kind of lag on and on, never really going anywhere.

I really wanted to like Black Laden Crown. After such a killer return to form with Red Death Saboath, I was hoping for a stronger follow-up (Skeletons is best left ignored and shoved back in the closet if you ask me,) but it really is such a downer. To hear Glenn sounding so great, yet to be pulled down by bad production…bad songs…bad performances? I’m not sure where the blame lies. As the mastermind behind Danzig I’d imagine that he had final say in everything so perhaps the buck stops with him. Of course, I’m one person, and I’ll wager there will be plenty of people that will whole-heartedly disagree with me and perhaps demand my soul in reparations for my disaparging of their favorite performer (jokes on you, I sold my soul for rock and roll a long time ago,) and that’s fine. It’s not going to be the end of the world this review. Check it out, but buyer beware! *1/2

Review by Chris Martin

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