Corrosion of Conformity
Corrosion of Conformity
Old meets new and becomes something newer again
As sad as it is to admit, long running act Corrosion of Conformity are yet another in what’s becoming an embarrassing line of veteran bands whose material I simply do not know anywhere near as well as I should. I’m not sure why I have so little experience with this band - and there really is no excuse - but with this, the band’s eighth full length release, I’m doing my best to right some wrongs, even if it is many years later than it should have been.
While I’ll freely admit to knowing very little of the band’s material intimately I did, at the very least, come into this album expecting to hear a whiskey fuelled, Southern sludge fest so I was more than a little surprised to hear the heavy punk crossover sound of the opening couple of tracks. In fairness (and retrospect) though, the album features the band’s original line-up from a period in their history when they were indeed more punk than anything else so I guess I shouldn’t have been as surprised as I was. Nonetheless, as someone who doesn’t have a huge amount of love for the punk/thrash crossover sound I can’t say that this reality was necessarily what I was hoping for but the band do mix in a fair amount of blues in between the more punk oriented riffs with a generally favourable outcome.
For me the album’s strongest moments are the ones where the punk influence is either wound right back or is completely absent. The fourth track, El Lamento de las Cabras, for example, is a richly woven instrumental piece that evokes the Southern sound that I was so strongly looking forward to hearing while The Doom and Newness, both of which appear around the mid-point of the album, stand out through their Sabbath-esque riffing and sludgy swagger. There are many more moments throughout the album that capture this vibe but I think these few tracks serve as the finest examples of what I was really hoping to hear on this disc.
What I find particularly interesting and impressive is that COC has been able to bring together a whole range of sounds and influences (presumably sounds that have been utilised individually over the course of their career) and mix them all together into something that sounds pretty fresh, in spite of the fact that the ingredients most definitely are not. The real benefit of this is that the album sounds incredibly familiar and welcoming while also feeling new and lively. A simple rehash of sounds this is certainly not.
With its liberal smatterings of punk in amongst the Southern vibe I was hoping to hear, this is an album that hit a lot of the right notes for me but also hit just enough “wrong” ones to keep me at arm’s length a little more than I would’ve hoped (though the second half with its distinctly less punk oriented sound more than makes up for this). Overall I liked Corrosion of Conformity but I do have to wonder if there are better albums out there from the band’s catalogue that I should have experienced before this one that would better suit my tastes and would also put this amalgamation of styles and sounds into clearer context for me.
Really though, in spite of my misgivings about the amount punk crossover that’s present, the truth is that this is an extremely well constructed album that did a lot more right for me than not so I can only imagine that long-time fans (who know what they’re walking in to) are going to enjoy the hell out of it.
(Candlelight Records/Riot! Entertainment)