Corrosion of Conformity // Corrosion of Conformity
Rating: 4.5/5.0 — Go get this fucking thing
Label: Candlelight
Release Dates: EU: 2012.02.27 | US: 02.28.2012

Corrosion of Conformity - S/TCorrosion of Conformity fans can generally be divided up into two teams: aging hardcore guys who only enjoyed the band’s first few records from the early ’80s, and metal dudes who prefer the band’s more recent incarnation with Pepper Keenan on vocals. These two teams don’t like each other, and Team Hardcore really doesn’t like latter-day COC. This conflict has been going on for decades, but the battle lines shifted recently when the three founding members of COC decided to reunite, sans Keenan, to record new music as a trio for the first time since 1986. Would the band finally deliver some crossover thrash to satisfy the old-schoolers? Or will they continue along the sludgy path they’ve been traveling since 1994’s Deliverance?

Well, it’s a win for both teams, or at least a draw. Corrosion of Conformity is very much a one-off in the COC catalog, borrowing from both the band’s hardcore and sludge metal eras and ending up being a darker, weirder beast than either. There’s no “Holier” or “Technocracy” to be found here, but there’s no “Clean My Wounds” either. There is, however, an abundance of good songs and huge, disgusting riffs.

COC the album [It’s all so confusing! AMG] is all over the place musically. Old-school hardcore fury somehow coexists with gigantic doom riffage and twangy guitar solos, usually in the same song. The faster tunes here, such as “The Moneychangers” and “What We Become”, are all badass swagger and vicious sarcasm, not far removed from latter-day Black Flag. Album closer “Time of Trials” is almost ’80s post-punk, with a completely unexpected Gang of Four/Killing Joke riff in there. This is honestly some of the most straight-up ugly music COC has ever produced, aided by the most stripped-down, live sounding production the band has had in decades.

I was curious as to how bassist/vocalist Mike Dean would fare fronting modern-era COC, but my concern was unfounded. Dean has stepped it up considerably in the vocal department, channeling Ozzy, Tom G. Warrior, Eric Wagner from Trouble, and even his ex-bandmate Keenan at times. (Oh, and he’s still an awesome bass player, too.) Woodroe Weatherman’s guitar is louder here than on any COC album in years, and the man definitely rose to the occasion. This guy has one of the most distinctive lead guitar styles of the last 20 years and all of it is here in spades. More importantly, Mr. Reed Mullin is back behind the drum kit after a lengthy injury-related absence. Mullin might not be the most technically accomplished drummer in the world, but he is a hard hitter and dangerously unpredictable. His playing adds weight. He’s an integral part of COC‘s sound and things were never quite right without him.

If there’s any flaw with this album, it’s that it occasionally feels less like 100% of the Animosity lineup, and more like 75% of the Deliverance/Wiseblood lineup. A few of these songs may be better suited to Pepper Keenan’s vocal style, and in those moments his absence is truly felt. A very minor grievance, considering the quality of the music here. But I can see this album having a polarizing effect on COC‘s fans. The old-schoolers hoping for another Animosity or Eye For An Eye will undoubtedly be pissed off and followers of the newer stuff will complain that Keenan isn’t at the mic. I was admittedly skeptical about this project myself, but the results have more than won me over. COC has made a fucking vicious album and they did it without choosing sides when it comes to their own history. Corrosion of Conformity is an expert blend of old and new, and a damn fun listen for those who are open-minded enough to handle both.

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  • Al Tatts

    One of my most anticipated albums of 2012. I’m old enough to remember Six Songs and Animosity, but unlike most have just grooved along the whole way and have loved nearly every album (I thought In The Arms Of God was slightly disappointing).

    Great review.

  • Blind will always hold my sack as the jewels of CoC’s legend and lore.  However, the tracks I heard off this gave a glimpse that Senor Reed is on the prowl, and I am joensing hard for this one to hit.  Will be ordering the vinyl and tee, gots to support the band. 

  • Kyle McDonald

    Good review man.  I have been very impressed with some of the music coming out of 2012.  Dodecahedron’s self-titled and Woods of Ypres’s Woods 5 stand out at the forefront.  I’ll check these guys out and see if they can compete.  

    Oh yeah, 

    I enjoyed the “Go get this fucking thing” that you added.  

  • Anonymous

    I only came across COC from the Deliverance incarnation, so I was a tad concerned about the missing condiment. However, if the quality of the new stuff really is that good then it would just be churlish to ignore it just because of the Pepper-free line-up. Time to check-out this bad boy…

  • Al Tatts

    After a bit of trepidation on initial listens, this is definitely starting to grow on me. Especially like The Doom.

  • The album dropped on the Candlelight Records Bandcamp, I added it to Metal Bandcamp here

    And I am affiliated with that site :)

  • I’ve read a lot of reviews of this album, and I’m shocked that they are all as positive as they are. Here’s the thing; COC, in THIS line-up, would never have amounted to anything near what they did with Pepper. Please, don’t get me wrong, I’m 33 and I have listened to COC a long, long time. But the simple fact is that the line-up with Pepper, Mike, Woody, and Reed was lightening in a bottle. It’s like a piece of machinery. When one piece isn’t present, the machine doesn’t work as well. The music itself on the album is good. Really good. And while I never minded Mike in a cameo role as a singer on the other albums, listening to him sing an entire album doesn’t do the musical work any justice on this album. Yeah, yeah, before you jump on me, I know Mike was the original singer. Put your guns down. But seriously, Animosity wasn’t as good an album as everyone tends to think it was through their revisionist, rose-colored glasses. And in so many other reviews I’ve read, everyone has heralded Mike as “the voice of COC”, well if that were the case, Pep wouldn’t have been singing for the last twenty years, would he?

    Here’s the deal. I was jonesing for a new COC fix just as much as any of you guys were. Seriously. AND, this album may very well grow on me at some point, but I wish they’d waited until the whole band was together. ALL of it. I said when AVD came out, then In the Arms of God, without Reed playing drums, it had a different sort of feel to it. This is the same thing, only it’s more recognizeable because the face of the band isn’t there. Mike Dean is a helluva bass player, but not a vocalist.

    I may be older than some of you, and maybe thats why I cant stomach that cat-claw down a blackboard voice of his for a whole album, but as of now, I can’t even justify illegally downloading this thing.