"Corrosion of Conformity"

By Earthdog

This has been said a million times but I will say it again: stoner-rock and sludge-metal and even some doom metal would be nowhere if it wasn't for early hardcore but not all early hardcore bands made an influence on the scene. Along with Black Flag ,one of the most influential bands on this scene of ours is Corrosion of Conformity. Now you might be wondering why am I of all people reviewing a C.O.C album. Well, apart from the reason of influence that I just mentioned, they are also one of the more sludgy, Sabbathy sounding bands around that came out of the hardcore scene and now with this, their 8th full-length release, not much has changed.  However, this album is a bit different from anything else they have ever released.

Corrosion of Conformity fans are usually split into two camps: the fans who only like their early stuff and consider their more recent albums a kind of minor sell-out and those fans who love the more recent albums with Pepper Keenan on vocals. There are those fans (like me) that like all eras but they seem to be in the minority.

The band, of course, started out as hardcore, then turned into a crossover punk-metal band. Since 1994's 'Deliverance', they have been doing a sabbathian sludge-metal kind of thing but still mixing it up with the hardcore influence of their early years. For me this new self-titled album seems to be playing it safe in many respects with all eras of COC playing an influence on how this album sounds.

There are songs like 'Leeches,' 'Psychic Vampire', 'River Of Stone' and 'Rat City' that all have that early hardcore aggression of their early days. There is 'What We Become' which is fast-paced and sludgy, and then there are tracks like 'The Moneychangers' which is not that far removed from the kind of sound and style that bands like Down come up with. Tracks like this one have a kind of stonerish, bluesy vibe even though they are played with a great level of intensity.

The big interest for me with this album is how bassist/vocalist Mike Dean sounds in this latest incarnation of the band. I am glad to say, he sounds great. His voice has a certain class about it that is especially perfect for the more atmospheric tunes. One of those titled 'Your Tomorrow' proves to be an album highlight. There are moments though where the album steers in a different direction that is bound is irritate some fans. 'Weaving Spiders Come Not Here' sounds like pure grunge rock to me and I don't know if other people will hear this way but for me personally, it doesn't sound anything like C.O.C and this will alienate fans. There are a couple of tracks that seem like pure filler like 'What You Despise Is What You Have Become' and the instrumental "El Lamento De Las Cabras'.  Tunes like these two are hardly bad, but they are also instantly forgettable.

A couple of other important factors about this album now. Reed Mullin is back behind the drum kit and puts in an inspired performance and Woodroe Weatherman hasn't sounded this loud and heavy for many, many years. I can see this album being a difficult pill to swallow for a lot of Corrosion Of Conformity listeners. It won't be enough like the early stuff for some people and a little bit too much like the Keenan era for others and then there are a couple of moments that don't sound like C.O.C at all. Even though this album is not really what I expected, I still love most of what is going on here. For the most part it has the early aggressive kick that the early albums had but it also has a more classy, more refined songwriting approach a lot of the time as well. Not a total classic Corrosion of Conformity release but far from their worse, it still should please a variety of fans.8/10.