Corrosion of Conformity
Corrosion of Conformity

COC caused a bit of a stir when they announced they would be moving forward without longtime guitarist and singer Pepper Keenan. This was cause for concern for a lot of fans weaned on the heavy southern groove the band plied from Deliverance to In the Arms of God. A Pepper-less COC was unimaginable, unconscionable. Of course, a lot of those people are either too young to remember or simply do not understand that COC were crossover icons before they were Grammy nominated southern rockers. The prospect of a new album and tour from the line-up responsible for 1985’s unfuckwithable Animosity was a cause for celebration for many long time fans, as it seemed an era of their discography relegated to history was poised for a well deserved return.

Of course, you’ll be sorely disappointed if you were hoping for Animosity pt. II. Like a lot of their albums, it’s as similar as it is different from their other output. They cover a range of tempos and genres throughout the 60 minute run time. Some tracks read more like latterday COC (“Come Not Here”), some are obvious nods to the bands hardcore punk roots (“Leeches”, “What We Become”) and others split the difference and alternate between mid-paced grooves and thrashing punk  (“Psychic Vampire”, “The Doom”).  There’s still plenty of southern rock to go around, “The Moneychangers” immediately comes to mind, but it doesn’t dominate in the way it has on previous records.

COC has effectively reconciled the groovy, Sabbath-inspired southern rock of the Pepper Keenan-era with the furious punk energy and speed of their formative years. They’ve lost the grime  from the early years, but the attitude is there in spades. The production is razor sharp and the playing is the tightest the band has ever been. Woody’s new tone is sharp and clear, and his solos are intricate and powerful. Reed Mullin’s return to the kit is a sterling one, and he turns in his best performance since Blind with plenty of clean fills and smart, restrained use of double bass. Mike Dean has grown immensely as a vocalist over the years. His voice is as distinct as ever, but now his signature bellowing croon has less rasp and more emotion and range, even veering into Chris Cornell territory on “Come Not Here”.

As a long time fan of the band this is exactly what I wanted to hear. COC never shied away from change, their first five albums could have been recorded by five different bands, and their latest is quintessential Corrosion of Conformity. It’s a wholly unique entity, like Animosity, like Blind, shaped by the band’s current circumstance. Paring down and revisiting the old stuff has tapped a new vein of creativity that has revitalized the band. Of course, a lot of fans are going to second-guess the decision to continue without Pepper but to me, all the despair over his absence is misplaced. Pepper Keenan is not COC. There’s no reason the band shouldn’t continue without a man who, despite being a tremendous singer and songwriter, was their 5th recorded vocalist.

More importantly, there’s no reason a fan of Pepper-era COC shouldn’t enjoy this album. The heavy rock influences and riffs are still here, albeit charged with a new found punk energy. Despite the hardcore touches, they’re still a metal band and still know how to lay down some heavy rock. This is a great album and an excellent addition to the band’s storied discography.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Chuck Kucher
March 8th, 2012

Comments

  1. Commented by: demise

    I still have deliverance on cassette,can play most of those songs still. Only thing is that this band doesn’t have any metal songs.since they’re not a metal band.duh.the ability or loser reviewrs to call anything they want metal is just ridiculous.


  2. Commented by: Fred Phillips

    I’m still having trouble making up my mind on this one. I don’t hear as many of the Southern grooves in it that other folks are hearing. It sounds more like the early stuff to me, which is OK, but I didn’t really get into them until Pepper joined and they started doing that thing.


  3. Commented by: Angel Cat

    I really want this album but I’m broke at the moment. I love all of their albums (minus America’ Volume Dealer which was OK but a bit boring) and I seem to be in the minority that thinks Blind is their best album. I’ve had that album since I started listening to metal and to this day I still think it’s tremendous. Like I said I don’t have the new album yet but I do have the 7″ that was put out before their new album. If the songs are as good as the ones on the EP then I’ll be happy. I’m also glad that they don’t still go by just COC as that was a bit ridiculous.


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