Corrosion of Conformity Credit: Dean Karr

In the early 1980s, North Carolina’s Corrosion of Conformity built a cult following with their thrashy, no-frills hardcore punk, but they catapulted to mainstream success in the mid-90s when they slowed down into sludgy southern stoner metal—a transition amplified by second guitarist Pepper Keenan taking over vocals. They’ve remained one of the most revered bands in the subgenre ever since, even through two hiatuses and several lineup changes. After nearly a decade away from the group, Keenan reclaimed his old role in a touring capacity in 2015, and in 2018 he rejoined core members Woody Weatherman and Mike Dean in the studio to record their first album together since 2005. The result, No Cross No Crown (Nuclear Blast), is a surprisingly tight return to form, with Keenan’s raspy yet soulful singing laid atop overdriven sludge, Skynyrdesque guitar squalls, and melancholic interludes. For every track that clubs you over the head (“Cast the First Stone”), there’s a slow-burning wailer (“Nothing Left to Say”) or an unexpected detour )such as a metallic rendition of Queen’s “Son and Daughter”). Ever the road warriors, CoC return to Chicago with support from fellow stoner stalwarts Crowbar, Weedeater, and Mothership. Light a blunt and prepare to bang your head into oblivion.   v