Review Summary: No Pepper, but well spicedCorrosion of Conformity
is an album of many firsts and new beginnings for the long-standing, well established group. Seven years preceded this latest release, the greatest gap between albums in their history. It is also the first with Reed Mullin behind the kit since the release of America’s Volume Dealer
at the turn of the century. Inclusive of that, this is the first record not to feature Pepper Keenan in any capacity since their 1987 effort, Technocracy
Dependent upon your point of view, the complete absence of Keenan might be an utter negative or a fresh start. Fortunately, there is plenty to be happy with here. Corrosion of Conformity
is imbued with a punk thrash that propels the record at breakneck speed at various points. The aforementioned thrash mixes seamlessly with the sludgy, ponderous routines that represent more familiar territory for the group. Opener “Psychic Vampire” is one of the finer examples of this. Its frantic chorus is sandwiched between slower verses that are impossible to ignore. “Your Tomorrow”, perhaps a slight dig at errant political administrations, dispenses with the niceties and delivers a four minute lesson in relentless energy. “Leeches” is like an adrenaline shot to the heart and “El Lamento De Las Cabras” is a necessary break from proceedings, allowing you to roll a smoke or crack open a beer; whatever may aid you in devouring such music. Elsewhere, “River of Stone” is the album’s most notable track. It combines aggressive instrumentation, melancholic lyrics and a bass interlude reminiscent of Black Sabbath’s immortal “N.I.B.”
Those who seek a method behind the madness need not look far. The album’s production is without needless fanfare and benefits from it immensely. It allows the weighty three-piece to shine without trickery. For better or worse, each song gives the impression of work that has been non-prejudicially recorded and kept, lest they lose that magic touch. At times this can be to the album’s detriment. The live, organic and raw feel that entices you in for the first few songs can become tiresome late on. It means that songs such as “The Moneychangers” and “Weaving Spiders Come Not Here”, catchy and powerful as they are, induce a sense of fatigue in the listener. The howling grind these boys produce here can begin to grate eventually and it’s a shame, because there’s plenty to be gained from repeat listens if you’re happy to stick with it.
In a month that has seen a release from UK counterparts Orange Goblin just prior to this, and with talk of a new Down release in May of this year, those who like their music enveloped in a fug of green smoke should be having a grand old time.