Corrosion of Conformity (C.O.C.) is one of those bands that most hard and fans know about, have heard and liked, and respect (or at least have nothing bad to say), yet the North Carolina outfit has never had the pleasure of being basked in widespread adoration. Even so, 2014 saw the 30th anniversary of their debut album, Eye for an Eye, and the release of their ninth studio album, IX.
Released in June 2014, IX continued the reformed Animosity lineup we heard on 2012’s self-titled LP and the Megalodon EP. So, yes, without Pepper Keenan on vocals, C.O.C. consists of Mike Dean, Woody Weatherman, and Reed Mullin. And to any naysayers, this is a pretty killer lineup.
Sure, the sludgy stoner rock that Keenan brought to the band has remained dominant to the sound of this incarnation of C.O.C., but there are nods to their hardcore roots as well. Have a listen to “Denmark Vesey,” “The Nectar,” “Trusker,” and “Tarquinius Superbus” for a sense of the hardcore flavor. Four well-placed tracks of this variety brings a great balance to the 11 tracks on *IX.
The album opens with “Brand New Sleep,” a slow, hypnotic shoegazer track full of fuzzy guitars, crashing cymbals, and honey vocals that all melt together like a well-made gravy. The track’s riffage and intensity increase by song’s end, and in that it sets the tone for IX. The following track, “Elphyn,” aside from the thunderstorm intro, sounds like an extension of “Brand New Sleep,” sharing a near identical riff.
Now, I said that “Denmark Vesey” has a foot in the hardcore genre, but when I first heard it, I could only think of Mudhoney. This recollection also happens on “Tarquinius Superbus.” But let’s not pick on the “hardcore” tracks here; if you tilt your head the right way, you might hear Pantera’s “Revolution Is My Name” in “Who You Need to Blame,” which is fine since there’s a NOLA connection there.
The more you listen to this album, the more things you’re going to find to like, such as the auto-burst fire from the drums on “Trusker” and the creepy hillbilly music and strange demonic sound effect at the beginning of “The Hanged Man.” But, what you might find best is the strong songs backed by some killer production.