Originally written by Matt Longo
In many respects, legacies mean jack shit — especially when faced with the prospect of releasing new material and touring on its strengths to pan-generational audiences. But true to form (pun? intended?), Corrosion of Conformity again embraces its many mutations to become a band that’s totally comfortable in its skin …warts and all.
Their first fifteen years saw the band taking giant steps at every turn — from primitive punk beginnings with frontmen you never heard of; then paring back to a trio while helping hone the meaning of “crossover”; members leaving and returning; late arrivals stepping more fully in the spotlight — but at the turn of the century, they mostly imploded. Both America’s Volume Dealer and In the Arms of God were drastically deficient in several ways; to oversimplify, the former bore a sickly sheen of commercialized rawk, while the latter lacked Reed Mullin. It’s odd that, in a group who has endured so much interchangeability, it took thirty years to really notice the lynchpin.
Reed also sings more than ever nowadays, which certainly benefits CoC 2.0 redux™. They project a pyramidal strength that only comes in time, mastering the art of the trio and understanding how to play together (even if Pepper Keenan is still currently focused on Down and never officially “left” CoC). Tracks like “Leeches” from the 2012 s/t comeback and the title track from the free Megalodon EP later that year displayed a devilish glee from Reed, rarely tapped before. Mullin likewise lends his throat to “Denmark Vesey” and “Tarquinius Superbus” for brief history lessons with a healthy dash of thrash and a sludgy undercurrent.
Mike Dean’s sometimes-bold/sometimes-wry sneer is still largely at the fore, and feels like the best fit for most of the tunes. Funny enough, the dude’s been sporting YOB threads in various promo shoots, and something about that band seems to be rubbing off on CoC, as they now more confidently feel the power of threes while balancing stridence with sweetness. Said sweetness stems heavily from Woody Weatherman, a venerable riff monster in his own right, whose subtle bends and flourishes color the whole IX yards.
Like many, I hopped on the bandwagon in the early ‘90s (thanks initially to Beavis and Butthead), but deeper digging led to some precious gems. Still quite relatively known, yet firmly entrenched in the underground, Corrosion of Conformity wear their spiky radioactive skull of a legacy on their proverbial sleeve (or vest), as they raise the bar in not just a musical sense, but in demonstrating how to march forward with pride for the past. From the sky-parting opening salvo of “Brand New Sleep” to the so-nice-they-played-it-twice ambrosial licks of “The Nectar”, there are plenty of burnt offerings sacrificed to the insatiable altar of the riff.