Very few bands have as twisted a lineage as Corrosion Of Conformity. But so distinct have the personnel changes in this outfit been, that more often than not fans will cite certain periods of the band — rather than albums, as their favorite.
Whether it be the punkish hardcore & thrash amalgam that defined them early in their career; the polished groove metal found on “Blind“; or the bluesy Southern-fried Sabbath style that has more or less carried them since.
With the release of this latest self-titled offering yet another unexpected curveball has been thrown. That being the return to their influential 1985 lineup. While the reinstatement of founding drummer Reed Mullin is certainly noteworthy; it is vocalist/guitarist Pepper Keenan‘s absence that shapes the direction of this album the most.
Truly in light of going back to their early lineup it’s not a shock that the bulk of this record finds the band regressing to a previous state of mind. Sporting a punkish attitude and feel, the songs often sway between smoldering southern bluesy metal and dated thrashy, hardcore crossover that directly ties to their roots.
It’s a somewhat bizarre direction, paying close tribute to two very different era’s of the bands trajectory. Sure it retains elements of their distinct sound, but not necessarily with the grace fans have become accustomed to.
As an intentionally raw experience, “Corrosion Of Conformity” rarely leaves the jam room. The songs it houses feel perfectly tailored to a dingy hole in the wall club. Full of unexpected moodswings and tempo changes, it is tempered by roughness and unhindered ambition. Focus is not its strong suit and while fans of their “Animosity“-era will love that; their “Deliverance“, etc. era listeners will likely find it to be a bit too sloppy.
A proverbial vortex of southern crunch, bluesy wails and unchecked aggression; the group can run the gamut of sounding like everything from Priestess (“River Of Stone“) to Soundgarden (“Newness“) and beyond. It’s a bit odd that through such a nostalgic approach can they touch upon the works of other contemporary artists, but it certainly doesn’t feel intentional. Rather it speaks to just how many styles this band have touched upon throughout their career.
By taking on the energy and attitude of their younger years, and using it to filter bits and pieces of their discography, the group have created quite a diverse listen. The end results are lively, heartfelt and ultimately a touch haphazard. Enough so that the aural wanderlust may dissuade all but the most diehard of C.O.C. fans from signing on for repeated spins.
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