on 21 March 2012
Corrosion of Conformity started out as a messy punk band, mixing Black Sabbath, Black Flag and Bad Brains into a ball of chaos. The band adapted their sound into full on Sabbath-informed metal with the addition of Pepper Keenan and there has been an increased Southern Metal influence ever since. With Keenan temporarily(?) out of the band, COC have returned to the Animosity-era line-up. Personally, Animosity is one of my favourite Crossover albums, easily up there with Cro-Mags' Age of Quarrel. However, I had read the reviews for the EP preceding this album and it was clear that this was not a return to furious, metallised hardcore punk, meaning I was not expecting Animosity mark II. And it isn't. Instead, we have a unique addition to COC's catalogue.
After a few listens I was surprised how much of the punk fury had returned, not least of all in the more-chaotic, thrashier solos. Tracks like Leeches, Rat City and, to some extent, The Moneychangers and What you Despise is what you've Become are confrontational, punky numbers. However, this is probably Sourthern-styled Sabbathy metal more than anything else. With these influences put together, the result is an album that is uniquely Corrosion of Conformity and unique within their discography. It's great, the songs are fairly immediate (although the vocals take a bit of getting used to) but they also develop and improve. After repeated listens, there is no doubt that this is an interesting albums as well as one that captures your attention. Almost all the songs have a combination of the first three bands mentioned but in a totally different style to Animosity, the exceptions being the subdued, slightly-trippy instrumental El Lamento de las Cabras and the grungier Weaving Spiders Come not Here. The two bonus tracks are not exceptional but fit in well with the 11 other songs on the album.
All in all, this album is definitely recommended for those who are a fan for all of the COC styles. For those who have a particular preference to a certain style, perhaps a bit of caution is necessary by checking out The Doom, Leeches or Time of Trials beforehand. Ultimately, however, the band has kept its integrity and added a whole host of songs to their live repertoire and my favourite from the band in years.
When you get away from all the stylistic and contextual considerations and just judge it on its own merits, Corrosion Of Conformity's 2012 Self Titled album is a very competently made and fairly enjoyable album. It isn't the best thing ever made, but neither is it a terrible mistake. It won't please people who are into them for what Pepper brought, and it won't please fans of classic 80s Hardcore, but it is a strong enough album that has a similar appeal as Black Tusk and maybe recent Entombed albums. Personally, I am huge a fan of Pepper and it took me a few listens for this new album to grow on me so if you are like me, I'd recommend buying the album and supporting the band anyway.
That being said; realistically it is an album that you need to provide a certain level of context for before approaching in a critical way as the particulars of the album's line up and musical style are of interest to existing fans and therefore it is difficult to describe the album without first acknowledging that.
So; on the previous four Corrosion Of Conformity albums (which a large portion of their fanbase know them best for) most of the vocals and a large part of musical direction came from the Southern Rock influenced Singer/Guitarist Pepper Keenan, who is not present on this album because he is concentrating on the Phil Anselmo fronted super group Down.
In Pepper's absence, the vocals on this album are performed by founding member Mike Dean, who has been on every Corrosion Of Conformity album except for 1991's Blind. Dean sometimes appears purely as a bassist and sometimes also handles the vocal duties.
In addition to Mike Dean once again taking over the lead vocal position, Pepper's guitar slot is left unfilled and the band play as a three piece. The line up is completed by guitarist Woody Weatherman who played on every single C.O.C album ever and drummer Reed Mullin who has been on all the band's studio albums apart from 2005's In The Arms Of God.
The style of this album was prophesied by certain people as being a return to the Crossover Thrash style of their 1985 album Animosity, because they play mostly songs from it live and it had the same trio line up.
Stylistically, the band began life as a hardcore punk band in the early 1980s, then quickly adopted a Crossover Thrash style in the mid-80s and by the 1990s they eventually added groove metal, sludge metal, stoner rock, southern rock and doom metal influences in varying degrees on each subsequent album, all of which have ended up with unique overall styles depending on the ratio of all these influences.
The prophecy that the band's 2012 album would return them to their 1985 sound and abandon everything developed since then did not prove to be the case however; the band certainly do incorporate large amounts of this style into the new album, but is important to remember that all three members were also on board during Deliverance, Wiseblood and America's Volume Dealer, which becomes clear when large amounts of Doom Metal influences pervade the album.
The result is a raw and dirty sounding album, which has a lot of fat Black Sabbath influenced Doom riffs one minute, and speedy d-beat drumming the next. This is perhaps best exemplified by the track `The Doom' and if you are unsure of whether or not you'd like the album, then I highly recommend listening to that track before buying.
Other highlights include the catchy `Time Of Trials,' the aggressive `What You Despies Is What You've Become' and the dark semi-acoustic number `El Lamento De Las Cabras.'
In conclusion, overall this is a pretty unique album in the band's history and I think all types of Corrosion Of Conformity fans should all check the album out at least once and judge it on its own merits. If however you want a lot of Punk or a lot of Southern Rock, then prepare to be disappointed because this album is very much its own animal.
on 16 March 2012
Though I was aware of their prior existence as a hardcore/punk band, it was the release of 1991's seminal 'Blind' - in my opinion one of the greatest metal albums ever made and certainly one of the coolest - that first got me into C.O.C. This masterpiece laid the foundations for the sound that they would spend the next 20 years refining, over equally brilliant LPs like 'Deliverance', 'Wiseblood' and 'America's Volume Dealer'. So I was somewhat peturbed to learn that the group's apparent motivating force, Pepper Keenan, would be absent from this latest opus - though, to be honest, the wait for a new C.O.C. album was beginning to drag on so long (the last was in 2005) I'd have been grateful for just about any new disc bearing the C.O.C name.
So here we have founding members Reed Mullin, Mike Dean and Woody Weatherman abusing their instruments under the C.O.C banner for your listening pleasure. This line-up toured playing material from the 1980s and I believe that this self-titled album is the bastard offspring of that particular road trip. And it's true what other reviewers have said - that this is sort of an amalgamation of their early 'punk' sound and the stoner rock / groove metal that they would eventually become known for. Don't worry if you are a fan of the later stuff, though, as I would say that the mix is about 70/30 in favour of the newer style. My biggest fear was the vocals (Mike Dean replacing Pepper here on throat-shredding duties) but, although they take a bit of getting used to, they quickly grow on you much as the album itself does (I don't know what it is about C.O.C. but all the different singers seem to do passable impersonations of each other).
It's certainly a rougher, rawer, more chaotic sound which I guess is the nod to their roots kicking in ('Leeches') but if it's killer riffs you're looking for they're also here in abundance on standout cuts like 'The Doom' and 'What You Despise Is What You've Become', the slower sections of which are amongst the heaviest stuff they've done.
I don't know whether it was the intention to try and please all sections of their fanbase (I can't imagine there are many left for the old-school stuff) or if they were just pleasing themselves on a creative level; I strongly suspect it's the latter. Pepper, as I understand, is merely on a haitus and as they've essentially had the same sound for nigh on two decades they probably thought "Let's do something different". Fair play to them for that. It'll be interesting to see where they go next - here's hoping we won't have to wait another seven years to find out.
on 9 August 2012
Although their is integrity in the music on this album, rather than stay the course of what was a brilliant album in "In the arms of God" they've gone back to their roots or the punk-thrash-trash days, sorry i just don't dig it, and the days of "Technocracy" are long gone, why revisit them??? This is a bizarre choice and they could've done this album under a different band name?
Bring back 'Pepper' and the groove orientated dark sabbath sounding thrash/hard rock it suits these guys so much better than this?