Danzig – Black Laden Crown (Nuclear Blast)

Friday, 2nd June 2017
Rating: 7/10

“It’s raw and natural-sounding,” he’ll say. “Just the way I like it.” That may become the running quote Mr. Glen Danzig will have to use when peppered with questions regarding the porous production job that befalls his first album in seven years, Black Laden Crown. Unless you are a basement black metal band whose sole purpose is to sound bad, then there’s no excuse for putting out something mixed as badly as this. Wonder what the cagey staff at Nuclear Blast thought when this thing landed on their desk…

With last year’s reunion with The Misfits in the books, Danzig’s erstwhile solo career has long needed a reboot. Sure, 2010’s Deth Red Sabaoth managed to conjure up some moments of early ’90s glory, but the man’s recent Skeletons covers album was a total miscalculation. Black Laden Crown does boast a relatively strong batch of songs, like the doom-tilted title track or “The Witching Hour,” which is a clear signpost of Danzig’s ability to conjure eerie chord progressions and haunting vocal melodies. There are some clunkers afoot, namely “Eyes Ripping Fire” (terrible chorus) and “Devil on Hwy 9,” but Black Laden Crown retains its focus during the back-half, especially on the blues-soaked “Blackness Falls.”

But this mix…man, it’s tough. Danzig mixed himself way too high, causing the levels to tumble over one another. Some songs the guitars are bright and boastful; others, they’re just looking for some face-time as Danzig croons like its 1990. Now, it doesn’t suck the life out of Black Laden Crown. If anything, Danzig salvages the album because he still knows how to pen a good tune. However, someone should have been there to pry him away from the mixing desk. Calling Rick Rubin?

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