Album Review: Corrosion Of Conformity - "IX"

Please tell me you've heard of Corrosion Of Conformity. If not, C.O.C. is a band who has been around for almost as long as I've been listening to metal. They started as a hardcore band and, through the years, morphed into a distinctly metal group. I remember hearing them back in the day, around the "Animosity" era, and I was pleasantly surprised when I heard them change their style on "Deliverance" in the 90's. I lost track of them through the 2000s because, as it turns out, they were "on hiatus" from 2006 to 2010. But Corrosion of Conformity is back with a new album and their doing it as a trio again.

This time around, they're back to the original line up; bassist/vocalist Mike Dean, drummer/vocalist Reed Mullin and guitarist Woodroe Weatherman. This is the same lineup they had when they first started back in the early 80's.

You read right. No Pepper Keenan on this album. Apparently, he's busy with his side band Down although it looks like he hasn't "officially" left C.O.C..

For those of you keeping track at home, C.O.C. has had so many members (roughly 13) through the years they're competing with Deep Purple for the most (Deep Purple has them beat with at least 14 members).

This latest record is Corrosion Of Conformity's ninth studio album and they've cleverly named it "IX".

As I mentioned, Corrosion Of Conformity's style has changed dramatically since their first album but they still have a hardcore edge to them. Mostly, though, they're metal. On this latest record you'll hear their Southern metal edge, some so-called "doom" metal and a bit of punk all rolled up into one pretty cool C.O.C. sound.

Don't try to guess what's coming next on this album. While the majority of "IX" is mid-tempo (some choose to call it "sludge") metal, there's a generous amount of C.O.C.'s original hardcore sound mixed in to keep you, the listener, on your toes.

Musically, the trio has come a long way from their first album but I guess 30 plus years of playing will do that to you. I'd also like to mention the superior bass chops Mike Dean provides on "IX". As a trio, the bass adds another enjoyable layer to the songs and creates an awesome flow throughout the record. And, while we're breaking things down, the more I listen to Woodroe Weatherman's guitar sound, the more I like it. It falls somewhere between Tony Iommi and Jimi Hendrix with a slightly crispier edge.

Both of those legendary guitarists are known for their awesome riffs and, by way of comparison, Woodroe holds his own. If you're seeking a really great riff then check out "On Your Way" which also happens to be the lead single from "IX". In this reviewer's opinion, it's some of Weatherman's best work on the album although an argument could also be made for his guitar on "Trucker".

Fans of the hardcore C.O.C. of yesteryear will hear some of that sound creep in during the 2:00 minute slammer, "Denmark Vesey". And, if that's just not enough for you, you'll hear it again on "The Nectar".

While listening to "IX", I found myself enjoying the more hardcore inspired songs the best although I also found a soft spot for the very metal "Tarquinius Superbus". Here's a fun fact; "Tarquinius Superbus" is not a mode of transportation. It's actually a person. Superbus was the last king of Rome from 534 BC to 510 BC, known as "Tarquin the Proud" and is best known for the cruelty of his reign. Take that, Trebek.

It's always a treat when a band who's been around as long as Corrosion Of Conformity puts out a new album that holds it's own against the newer releases. Have they changed the face of metal with "IX"? No, but I don't think they're trying to anyway. What Corrosion Of Conformity has accomplished is a honing of their sound. It has truly been an evolution, albeit with a few misstep here and there, but they continue to grow as musicians and songwriters. They continue to entertain their fans and influence countless numbers of aspiring musicians. The material on "IX" is an indication that Corrosion Of Conformity will continue to inspire for years to come.

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