I don’t know where all this dissension is coming from. I’ve perused a few blurbs on the latest Corrosion Of Conformity self-titled record and everyone keeps complaining about the absence of Pepper Keenan (Who is focusing on Down at the moment). Don’t get me wrong, I love Pepper and he’s the reason I got into C.O.C. but this is not Pepper’s C.O.C. at the moment and I am okay with that.  What you have on Corrosion Of Conformity is a solid doom rock rock (Kyuss meets Black Sabbath with a hint of Soundgarden thrown in) album that stands tall next to the best in the C.O.C. catalog.

Mike Dean, Woody Weatherman, and Reed Mullin decided to go back to their roots as a 3-piece but didn’t abandon their present so what you get is a hard rock/punk/metal amalgamation that’ll appease fans of all the incarnations of C.O.C. Easing listeners in, “Psychic Vampire” begins with a riff and some “Oh’s!” that could easily fit on one of C.O.C.’s mid-’90’s records. Then the song kicks into high gear and you’re transported back to Animosityland.

“River Of Stone” continues to up the pace as Mullin pounds away relentlessly. Like most of the songs on Corrosion Of Conformity, “River of Stone” goes through so many changes that you’ll often wonder if you’ve gone to the next one without knowing it but then the chorus or a riff brings you back to where it all began. That said, each of the 11 tracks here (13 if you get the Deluxe) are a sonic journey and it’s a great fuckin’ ride. I’ll admit to being one of the ones skeptical about the Pepper-less version but after hearing the record all the way through, I’m convinced that this is the album C.O.C. needed to make at this point and time.

Producer John Custer is back at the helm and seeing as the man has produced every C.O.C. record since Blind (1991), there’s definitely nobody better qualified than him to sit behind the boards. Songs like “Time of Trials” and “What We Become” capture the spirit of modern day C.O.C. as Weatherman just wails away at his guitar especially on “What We Become” with its’ killer Metallica-sized crunch during the outro. Dean, in essence, doesn’t sound so different from Keenan if that’s what you’re afraid of. If anything, the range is a little greater and songs like “Newness” display how he and Pepper could easily split vocal duties a little more evenly on the next record.

Seven years is a long time between studio albums but Corrosion Of Conformity is well worth the long wait. For fans of every era of C.O.C., this one’s for you.

Corrosion Of Conformity is out on February 28th on Candlelight. Pre-order yours right here.

Grade: A



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