Review Summary: In an era where everyone is looking backwards, it might be time for Danzig to revisit his roots.
It is quite spectacular when an artist decides to go down the one-man show approach. Delusions of grandeur can certainly lead to a larger than life release, especially when the said artist is at the absolute peak of his/her inspiration. However, at the case of the 62-year old Danzig whose previous effort is the downright embarrassing Skeletons
, the outcome of the aforementioned approach is simply the dark and heavy but painfully average Black Laden Crown
Probably the most disappointing thought regarding Danzig’s latest release is how much better it could have been. The songwriting is certainly not poor and Glenn’s voice is far from shot, but what makes this album so average is the combination of the lazy arrangements and the poor production which makes the album sound as if the veteran vocalist is singing over a backing CD. On top of that, his voice sometimes sounds as if he is too close to the microphone while on others it is as if he stands too far.
The opening homonymous track is a fairly representative sample of the whole; an atmospheric, doom-laden affair which brings to mind “Wotans Procession” from Circle of Snakes
, which is not a poor track per se but nothing spectacular. Going back to the wasted potential statement above, “Eyes Ripping Fire” is a perfect example. Instrumentally it is close to early-Danzig, mixing the blues and metal but with a modern sound. However, the guitars lack any serious punch and its ending is a simple fade-out. In addition, “Last Ride” which stylistically may bring to your mind “13” from 6:66 Satan's Child
, is a fine track but its instrumentation is very mundane and topped by a simplistic guitar solo.
Going back to the production issues, “But a Nightmare” is not one of the album’s highlights but because it is one of the better produced ones, it tends to stand out. Imagine the White Zombie/biker rock of “Devil on Hwy 9” with a Danzig 4
approach. Nevertheless, the production and the arrangements are not the LP’s only sins. “Skulls & Daisies” and “Blackness Falls” are both monotonous and uninspired, which make the surprisingly good closing track “Pull the Sun” even more enjoyable.
It is clear that Danzig has very little to prove but that doesn’t mean that he has nothing to offer. Having a backing band is clearly not the way to go and the same applies to underutilizing his band mates. What made his first albums special was that he was surrounded by a normal band and a professional producer. However, I am not sure if at this point of his career (and life) Glenn is willing to change his evil ways.