coc_digital_coverConsidering that the band was left for dead after 2005’s In The Arms Of God, North Carolina’s Corrosion of Conformity has been on a fucking roll these last few years. The band’s original trio reconvened in 2010 and embarked on heavy-duty touring, followed by 2012’s excellent self-titled LP and the hastily-assembled Megalodon EP for Scion A/V. Just two short years later, COC is back again with their 9th album, creatively titled IX.

Opener “Brand New Sleep” occupies that nebulous area between “doom” and just “slow”, and takes its sweet-ass time getting anywhere interesting. It’s not a bad track necessarily, but it’s certainly not deserving of the opening slot on a COC record. Follow-up “Elphyn”‘s first riff sounds a lot like “Brand New Sleep”‘s last riff, giving the first 11 minutes on the record a somewhat monotonous feel. I’ve been a fan of this band for 20 years, and this is the first time I’ve made it two tracks into their new album and just said “meh.”

Oddly, this rejuvenated Corrosion lineup seems to excel at more uptempo material. Exhibit A: the two-minute punk rocker “Denmark Vesey,” the band is on fire. “Tarquinius Superbus” is probably the closest COC has gotten to crossover thrash since the late ’80s, with an awesome half-time chorus section that had me headbanging at my desk. Drummer/vocalist Reed Mullin has developed some killer-sounding screams that suit the heavier tracks nicely. (interestingly, both of these songs are named for obscure historical figures that are worth Wikipedia-ing).

A lot of this record becomes a blur of sludgy rock riffs to me, but a few things stand out. “On Your Way” is an upbeat rocker anchored by a melodic Mike Dean vocal and a few hulk-sized riffs. “The Nectar” stitches fast hardcore riffs to slower doom sections, similar to a few of the songs on COC but to lesser effect. Oh, and the obligatory Woody Weatherman guitar interlude is named “Interlude,” probably by the same genius who came up with the album title.

fabiola santini coc 4The songwriting is loose, the performances seemingly first takes, as though these were rehearsals instead of the real thing. All 3 band members make audible mistakes, and Mike Dean’s vocals sound like he’s totally winging it at times. The record’s production, handled by longtime cohort John Custer, is also not flattering, with weak-sounding drums and way too much bass. COC has made some raw-sounding records in their day, and IX certainly continues that trend. Combined with an album cover that looks like it was done in Photoshop Elements, one gets the impression that this album was a low-pressure affair (to put it mildly).

So yeah, this is the first COC record of my adult life that I don’t feel a burning desire to own or even listen to. It’s never offensively terrible like, say, America’s Volume Dealer, but there’s very few moments that are exceptional either. It feels like “just another COC record.” There’s almost something charmingly quaint about a band having the longevity to make records this non-essential –think Black Flag‘s Loose Nut, or perhaps Bad Brains post-I Against I. IX is the sound of a band with no agenda and absolutely nothing left to prove, just jamming out some tunes in the garage.

 Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 7  |  Format Reviewed: 320 kbps MP3
Label: Candlelight Records
Release Dates: Out Worldwide on 06.24.2014

  • Selim Baradan

    C.O.C. without Pepper Keenan is like a salad without dressing.

    • Grymm

      Oh, here we go…

      Pepper hasn’t been with C.O.C. for a good long time now, and to be honest, America’s Volume Dealer was Pepperific, and it sucked ass. Besides, this is the same trio who penned Animosity.

      I do miss the intensity and creativity from the Blind era (Reed’s drumming on that album is the work of the Gods).

      • Greg Hasbrouck

        I have to agree with the OP; wake me if Pepper comes back. And I know AVD gets shit on with great frequency, but I enjoy it. It’s a simple but fun rock record.

        • Selim Baradan

          C.O.C. just announced Keenan is returning to the band in 2015. I’m glad this trio adventure is over. Now let’s hope they give us something similar to Deliverance era.

      • Fisting_Andrew_Golota

        I gotta side with Grymm on this one. All versions of COC have some merit. I’ll admit that Keenan’s singing voice is a bit more pleasant than Dean or Mullin’s, but they can kick ass without him at the mic (and they’ve certainly sucked when he was around).

        • Selim Baradan

          The songwriting in the band’s latest self-titled release was actually quite good but Dean’s vocals and poor production made the comeback rather uninspiring. If it was released with Pepper on vocals and 2nd guitar, it could have sounded more powerful. That’s what I tried to say with the “salad” comment. Just wishful thinking… I haven’t heard the new record though.

          And what’s with the Volume Dealer hate? IIt was a rather weak record after two great records (Deliverance and Wiseblood) but it wasn’t horrible by any means. Not a single reviewer rated the record less than 6/10 back in 2000. And fans were not complaining at all. Even half of the songs in the 2001 Live album were from Volume Dealer.

          BTW my personal favorite album is Blind. But my favorite C:O.C. era is Keenan on vocals without a doubt.

          • Fisting_Andrew_Golota

            I’d be curious to see what all those 6/10 reviewers would say about Volume Dealer today. Maybe that record calls for an AMG Indefensible Position?

  • Well, in the vein of indefensible positions I didn’t really liked their eponymous in 2012 and I’m really disliking the stuff I’m hearing now… so this one is going to be a pass.

  • Jacob Campbell

    This album, like everything from the trio, is fanfuckintastic. You’re all idiots and should probably tear up your metal cards. They deserve praise for sticking to it in the face of all you poseurs, but they must’ve gotten hardened to it as kids. It seems an easy bet you’re all the same hypocrites who’d have bagged Blind or even Animosity upon arrival. Pepper can fuck off, permenantly. The latest Down is actually awesome. So, there’s that.