CORROSION OF CONFORMITY, Corrosion of Conformity (2012, Candlelight)
You know a band is scrambling when they bring back a logo or mascot previously left behind in the name of forward evolution. So many bands eventually wander roads less traveled, dropping iconic imagery and the familiar musical style that gained them legendary status, only to return at some future points with more recognizable sounds and symbols. The return to safer environs rarely results in music that measures up to the good old days — it’s usually a case of too little, too late. The return of the classic Megadeth logo and mascot; the return of the classic My Dying Bride logo; the return of the classic Slayer logo; the return of the Destruction logo and skull; the return of the classic Anthrax logo; the return of the classic Celtic Frost logo (I’m not amongst the majority who think Monotheist is good); on and on. So often it just feels like a seductive sham, a pandering to gullible fans after some hurt feelings. What are we to think when Corrosion of Conformity bring back their horned skull? After many dormant years, this highly recognizable bad boy returns, but this time they have added more spikes, tentacle-ish things, an eye of Horus, a sword-like thing under the chin, and a curious and adorable chinchilla-looking creature for its forehead. It’s a great design, except for the chinchilla, and a reasonably acceptable update of the classic skull made famous by zillions of t-shirt wearing fans, bands and quite a few people who don’t even know what COC is but thought the shirt looked totally bad-ass.
According to this Friar, COC’s Blind is one of the best metal albums released in the ’90s. They were just getting good at a time when most of their older fan base were demanding a name change. And Blind is way better than good. While Animosity and Deliverance have their moments, nothing the band has released before or since has been worthy of Blind‘s majesty. Part of the the problem is this issue of perpetual stylistic crisis. COC never stay in one musical place for very long, yet they continue to try and zero in on what it is that they do exactly. It’s been an interesting run, even if they seem wayward most the time. If the return of the spiky skull symbol wasn’t enough, the band decided to self-title this one, so apparently it’s gonna be the defining COC album. Finally! But with so many stylistic shifts, what should definitive COC sound like? Apparently it sounds like this — an often uncomfortably ambling and sometimes impressively focused mesh of hardcore, Southern rock, sludge, doom, punk, stoner rock, noise rock and thrash. Where “Psychic Vampire” is wholly unappealing in its muddied, muddled thrash-meets-sludge slop, something like “Your Tomorrow” is appealing because it hones in on one direction — that being a Trouble/Black Sabbath-esque slab of smart, emotive doom. Many of the songs here feature impressive riffs or inventive vocal melodies, but also a few too many dead-end riffs and sequences. Reed Mullin is excellent throughout. He remains one of the most underrated and tastiest drummer in the genre(s) — one listen to “The Doom” confirms this. So, Corrosion of Conformity is a likable but hardly lovable hodgepodge, and probably the first one since Deliverance that’s worth more than a cursory glance.
— Friar Wagner