COC’s Secret Formula
When Corrosion of Conformity announced the reunion of its “classic” lineup of Mike Dean (bass/vocals), Woody Weatherman (guitars), and Reed Mullin (drums/vocals), fans wondered if the end result would be closer to 1985’s punk-thrash landmark Animosity or 2005’s Southern-rock tinged Into the Arms of God, or perhaps some sludgy area in between. The answer is yes, yes, and yes.
The eponymous album—their 10th studio release overall—begins with “Psychic Vampire” and a slow, boomy intro. It speeds up and slows down again, following Mike Dean’s vocals. His voice and style have matured, but both sound fresh here—slightly imprecise, definitely distinguishable. This song summarizes what to expect from the rest of the album. The best of COC’s various personalities is represented here. “Leeches” and “Rat City” are short and fast, much closer to the American hardcore the band helped define in the mid-1980s. “El Lamento de las Cabras” is a slow instrumental, reminiscent of their mid-1990s form. “The Doom” sounds like, as suggested by the title, something out of the Sabbath catalog (until it launches into turbo mode in the middle). “What We Become” has more of a thrash feel and a je ne sais quoi that can only be identified as a North Carolina rock sound.
You would think that the end result of all this variation is something schizophrenic, but somehow COC manage to keep a cohesive sound throughout. It helps that the instrumentation is never too strict or showy, and the songwriting is at a high level. Corrosion has a live feel to it, and it sounds like these old friends had a great time writing and recording all 13 tracks.