Corrosion Of Conformity
CORROSION OF CONFORMITY
Is it just me, or is the first album you actually hear from a band the measuring stick by which you compare everything else from that band? When I look at my musical collection, it's like that. I look at a band like Testament, where the first album I heard from them is SOULS OF BLACK. Everything they've done since is measured against that in my head, and everything before that in some way seems to be not quite up to that release in my mind. I'm not sure why that is, but I find that my first taste of a band is where I ground myself. While some releases can be better than that first release (THE GATHERING for me is far superior, as is FORMATION OF DAMNATION), I just don't see PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH in the same light. Maybe because it was old before I ever heard it. Dumb, I know.
What does any of this have to do with Corrosion Of Conformity? Well, with them, I discovered their music after Pepper Keenan was in the band. I'm a huge, huge fan, but for me the pre-Pepper COC never really grabbed me because it was so drastically different in sound from where I entered fandom with them. My first reaction to Pepper-less COC putting out a new album this year was, "eh", to be honest about it. But now I've heard it, and I have to say that this is a seriously triumphant release from the returning trio. CORROSION OF CONFORMITY packs a wallop musically as it does far more than those old releases like ANIMOSITY ever did. The return of COC 1.0 may be heralded as a return to the more punk style of early releases, but it's much more of a fusion of both eras of music these guys have done for 30 years.
Listening to this album, the punk influences are definitely there. You can't listen to a song like "Psychic Vampire" and not realize that these guys were heavily influenced by the heavier punk scenes from three decades ago. That said though, their stoner heritage of the Pepper era is on display throughout as well. "Come Not Here" might be the best mood-enhanced song of the band's career. They shine brighest though on songs like "What We Become", where the amalgamation of their two distinct styles merge.
For their part, the guys in the band sound great. It's clear their touring prior to recording this release helped them out greatly. Their sound, while not the lush soundscape they've done on previous efforts, has a really organic feel to it that would lend me to believe that there's not a lot of studio magic here. These songs have that live power" to them, specifically on guitar where Woody Weatherman is once again an underrated beast with his instrument.
PITRIFF RATING - 96/100 - CORROSION OF CONFORMITY is a seething return for this trio. I think their press people may be going overboard by selling the whole ANIMOSITY lineup return, because this release stands on it's own merits away from past glory from the band. This organic ass kicker may not be the most polished release of the band's career, but it's one of the best. Moody, arrogant at times, and constantly spitting in the face of their perceived sound, it's clear that this band will be just fine as a trio should "the other guy" never find his way back. This is a seriously awesome release.