Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Review: Corrosion of Conformity - Corrosion of Conformity (2012)

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Corrosion of Conformity

Corrosion of Conformity - Corrosion of Conformity
Despite having released only seven full-length albums in their 30-year career, North Carolina's Corrosion of Conformity have become the standard by which Southern doom-oriented rockers are measured, even though they themselves have evolved their sound over time. From the hardcore of their beginnings, through the heavy metal of the early '90s, onward to the Southern rock of the Pepper Keenan years, CoC has remained a band to which many emerging acts are compared. Capping off the band's most recent hiatus, during which Keenan departed the line-up and drummer Reed Mullin returned, is CoC's self-titled eighth album and the first which attempts to bridge the gap of the band's various stylistic periods.

CoC fans are a polarized lot that can be roughly grouped into pro-Keenan and anti-Keenan factions. While Corrosion of Conformity lacks Keenan's distinct style, the trio of Mullin, Woody Weatherman (guitar) and Mike Dean (bass/vocals) emulate the "Keenan Era" sound just as well as they reinvigorate the style they themselves perfected during the band's formative years - at times during the same song. "Psychic Vampire" kicks off the album in this fashion, embedding flashes of hardcore fury amongst the lazy, Southern groove-oriented riffs. This bridging of eras continues on "The Doom", which alternates between crushing, Sabbath-inspired riffs and a raw, punkish onslaught. The waning moments of the track are an album highlight, featuring a nice bottom-end grove and a rather remarkable solo.

Corrosion of Conformity
Not all songs are stylistic mash-ups, however. "Leeches", with its hardcore riffs and vocals, unrestrained leads, and gang choruses, caters directly to the Animosity-era fanbase while "Come Not Here" is an unadulterated, grimy Southern doom track. The instrumental "El Lamento de las Cabras" features Skynyrd-esque leads atop a slow-as-molasses pace, and "What We Become" is predominantly a punky little burner until Weatherman unleashes a very thrashtastic set of riffs during the song's latter half.

If Corrosion of Conformity comes across as a bit of a shotgun approach to dissimilar musical influences, then you're understanding what the album essentially is. The band does an excellent job of bringing their various stages together in one offering, but beyond that I found the album to be lacking any real impact. The songs are good, but not quite up to expectations. Some fans may be united in their acceptance of this release, but many may be alienated by it. By attempting to harness 30 years of history into one album, Corrosion of Conformity may have set the bar just a tad too high.

Track Listing
1Psychic Vampire5:01
2River of Stone6:44
4El Lamento de las Cabras3:32
5Your Tomorrow4:39
6The Doom5:23
7The Moneychangers4:45
8Come Not Here4:38
9What We Become4:18
10Rat City2:57
11Time of Trials4:14
Total Runtime48:59

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