It’s nice and endearing to hear newer bands reach back to older sounds to try to give them new life. It’s also annoying sometimes because once a trends hits, does it ever hit hard. But what’s even better is having a band that lived through the eras being revived reminding us all how it’s done.
Corrosion of Conformity have been one of the most influential and celebrated bands in heavy music for the past three decades, and for good reason. A few years ago, the “Animosity” era lineup—guitarist Woody Weatherman, bassist/vocalist Mike Dean, drummer/vocalist Reed Mullin–reformed and brought us an explosive 2012 self-titled full-length that was a blast from the past, and a much welcomed one at that. Now comes their new record, and second since the reconfiguration, called “IX,” and it absolutely destroys everything in front of it. Look, and sorry if this is sacrilege, but I wasn’t a fan of the Pepper Keenan version of the band. I never liked his voice, and when they got some popularity in the 1990s with “Albatross” and “Clean My Wounds,” I didn’t hang around because it didn’t click with me. I’m probably alone on this. But with their “Animosity” revival, my C.O.C. love came back in full, and I am in absolutely punk/thrash/blues/hardcore bliss over their new record. It’s that damn good, and it’s such an honest, earnest blast of what made them so beloved in the first place, longtime devotees will have to be blown away by this 11-track puncher.
I can’t emphasize enough just what a pleasure it is to hear this record. It makes me think of when I first starting hearing about C.O.C. when I was in middle school, and seeing the punk kids wearing shirts with their unmistakable skull logo. Another cool touch about the record is the packaging doesn’t try to make some grandiose statement or go for the guts. It’s a black cover with the band plugged in and playing, with the ominous skull lurking above them. That’s it. And it’s perfect, because it’s the idea statement about what you’ll hear when you turn on “IX.”
The record opens with “Brand New Sleep,” a bluesy, trippy, stoner-style burner that has plenty of swagger and all the C.O.C. attitude you can handle. You should notice right away that the vocals are as strong as they’ve ever been on a record featuring these three, and it’s a pleasure to hear these guys howl away. “Elphyn” is thunderous from the start and is built on a killer Southern-style riff that just does not quit. The guys hit a sweltering groove that could cause the sweat to pour from your face, and there’s a nice infusion of psychedelia to go along with everything. “Denmark Vesey” is one of the heaviest songs on the record, with repeated shouts of, “Kill! Kill! Kill!” and it’s a killer dose of old-school hardcore and thrash, wrapped together tastefully. “The Nectar” is a pretty bad-ass cut, with noise boiling over and a nasty disposition displayed by all three guys as they melt away. There are some speedier moments intertwined, more thrash goodness, and vocally it’s one of the catchiest things on here. Then we get a breather with “Interlude,” a calming, tranquil cut that gives you a breather right when you need one.
The second half gets off to a hazy, sun-scorched start with “On Your Way,” another song driven by a really tasty riff, with higher-pitched singing colliding head-on with some of the burliest growls on the whole album. “Trusker” pulls back slightly, with a slower pace and more psychedelic fire, before it bursts wide open and swallows you whole with its thrashy gallop. “The Hanged Man” kicks up a ton of dust, as it blasts forward, not trying to wow with its prowess and always hoping to catch you in its gears for a good grinding. “Tarquinius Superbus” is a total mauler, with a heavy, thrash-minded assault that’s both punishing and catchy as hell, including forceful, pissed off vocals noting, “They think they know ya, they control ya.” You can almost imagine these guys stomping away as those confrontational words strike, with the band unloading the lumber. “Who You Want to Blame” gets back into the stoner mentality, with a bluesy shuffle landing and leading the way, and the guitar work just blazing good. There is some real organic crunch to this song, and it’s a great example of how everything just comes together nicely on this record. “The Nectar Reprise” is a quick callback to one of the album’s best tracks, with one last chance for the band to roll with you heavy drumming, sludgy playing, and one of the best choruses on the whole record. It’s a hell of a ride, and you’ll be sorry when it’s over.
C.O.C.’s revival is hitting on all cylinders, and at this pace, if the band stays in this form for the rest of their run, I know I’ll be incredibly happy. “IX” came out incredibly well, and at the risk of beating a dead horse, it’s really fun to hear. These songs should be a blast to witness live and certainly will boost the band’s hard-earned, stellar reputation.
For more on the band, go here: http://www.coc.com/
To buy the album, go here: http://www.manicmusiconline.com/
For more on the label, go here: http://candlelightrecordsusa.com/