The core of Corrosion of Conformity has always been Mike Dean (bass and vocals), Woody Weatherman (guitar and backing vocals) and Reed Mullin (drums and vocals). Although the band have had many different line-ups – including the classic Pepper Keenan fronted era – the true sound of Corrosion of Conformity was always rooted in the crossover sound heard on the bands 1985 released second album “Animosity.” The sound of “Animosity” is the beginning of when hardcore punk bands started dabbling with thrash metal. Depending on who you talk too, some viewed this new direction as a positive whereas others saw it as a negative. I personally love a lot of the bands who existed during the crossover period of hardcore punk. Corrosion of Conformity are clearly one of the best. As the band evolved they explored their metal roots and from the early 90’s until 2005 the band became heavily immersed in the power of Black Sabbath. This era of the band saw them succeed and get a lot of exposure and at this point in time they were fronted by Pepper Keenan who also played guitar. I love all of the records with Pepper Keenan and after 2005’s “In The Arms Of God’s” flawless sound it felt like the band may have reached its final point of evolution. Combine that with Pepper Keenan’s dedication to NOLA supergroup Down and the future of Corrosion of Conformity post 2005 was uncertain.
So when the band announced that they were going to continue and re-unite as the original “Animosity” three-piece line-up I was a mix of both excitement and uncertainty. I was quite a big fan of Pepper Keenan and I wondered how the band were going to evolve the sound. The hindsight of it all is that Corrosion of Conformity have never sounded this fresh and I never thought I’d say this, but they actually sound better without Pepper Keenan. It actually hurts to say that but in all honesty the purists will always tell you that Mike, Woody and Reed were always the heart and soul of COC plus Pepper is now making important sludge with Down so everything is in its right place.
The sound of their new “Self-Titled” album and the recently released “Megalodon” EP sees the band go back to the crossover sound with a new level of maturity. There is still a bunch of doom, sludge and Iommi riffage but the major difference is the return of the hardcore edge that made “Animosity” such an important album. This is incredibly loose yet well constructed music. It is raw as fuck and the production is so rough yet it still shimmers. This is the way heavy metal should sound. Each song on both of these releases is a mini ode to the history of metal. You have some songs that open with the doom of Sabbath but then direct themselves to the hardcore of My War era Black Flag. It is diverse and dynamic and it rocks every part of your soul. This is how heavy music should sound in 2012.
I spent most of 2012 listening to COC’s self-titled album. I found it beyond satisfying and it quenched all my heavy metal and punk rock desires. When bands mix genres sometimes it fails but COC have the wisdom of a 30 year career behind them to make the collision of punk and metal sound effortless. They truly are the masters of the crossover sound and to hear the original purveyors of the sound take it into the new decade with such a new futuristic edge is a beautiful thing to behold.
Corrosion of Conformity are a band that you need to immerse yourself in. If you believe in the Riff, this band is for you.
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