Well my calendar this week has just been shot to hell. There are just so many great new albums out this week that I feel I need to cover, that I think everything scheduled this week is going to end up running next week instead. Yesterday I covered Napalm Death and Asphyx; today I’m starting with Corrosion of Conformity (sans Pepper). Time allowing I’ve also got albums on deck by Drudkh and Eluveitie. And don’t get me started on the treasure trove of NWOBHM-worship I stumbled across on iTunes yesterday. I picked up albums by Roxxcalibur (a band that covers classic NWOBHM songs), Zuul, and Steel Assassin. But wait, I’m not done yet. I also picked up some cool power metal in Elmsfire and another called High Spirits that plays traditional 80s style metal ala the Scorpions and Dokken (but presumably without the hairspray.)
Corrosion of Conformity and I go way back. In 1985 I was seduced by the cover artwork for “Animosity” (It’s so metal. It’s by Pushead who did lots of cool Metallica art) and bought the cassette. For those only familiar with the Pepper Keenan era of CoC, these guys were not the doomy metal masters they are today. No, they were a crossover thrash band that probably had more punk than metal in their makeup at the time. So when I listened to “Animosity” it was eye-opening to say the least. It was pretty chaotic sounding and took me a long time to come to appreciate it for what it was. By the time their next album, “Blind” came out their sound had completely changed. They went all metal and picked up singer Karl Agell. The change was rather drastic, but I liked it anyway. Alas, that wouldn’t last either.
1994 saw the release of “Deliverance” and the dominant era of CoC was born. Pepper Keenan (who joined for “Blind” on guitar) took over on vocals and blew my mind. I love Pepper Keenan. When I heard that this latest album would not include Pepper I became very distressed. I felt a little better when I learned that Pepper hasn’t left the band, so hopefully we’ll hear him with CoC in the future. At that point I became curious about what this latest album would sound like.
“Corrosion of Conformity” was recorded by the classic “Animosity” lineup. Would it sound like “Animosity”? That would be a very radical change and as a temporary thing I could really get behind it. So when I fired up the album yesterday I was fully expecting some kind of punk-metal rage. I was surprised and actually kind of delighted to find that the album merges parts from both eras. There are definitely some spastic punky moments that recall “Animosity” but they are far outnumbered by the moments stuffed full of that killer CoC doomy southern riffage. For the most part Pepper could have walked in at the last minute and done the vocals and this would not seem out of place in the CoC discography. But I don’t want to take away from the three guys who actually did the work on this album, Woody, Mike and Reed. It goes to show that while Pepper is cool as shit, CoC is still CoC without him.
My fears have been laid to rest and I’m ready to kick back and enjoy this album. “Corrosion of Conformity” is a great addition to their catalog and I hope people will show up and support them on this endeavor. It would have been awesome if they had done a new recording of “Mad World” or “Hungry Child” as a bonus track, but whatever. Killer tunes.