Tuesday 10 June 2014

Corrosion of Conformity – IX (Album Review)

Album Type : Full Length
Date Released : 24/6/2014
Label : Candlelight Records

Corrosion of Conformity – ‘IX’ (CD/DD/LP) track listing :

1. Brand New Sleep
2. Elphyn
3. Denmark Vesey
4. The Nectar
5. Interlude
6. On Your Way
7. Trucker
8. The Hanged Man
9. Tarquinius Superbus
10. Who You Need To Blame
11. The Nectar Revised

The Band :

Mike Dean | Vocal, Bass
Reed Mullin | Drums, Vocals
Woody Weatherman | Guitars, Vocals

Review :

Corrosion of Conformity are exactly the kind of band the entire Sludgelord ethos was founded upon: Gritty, mud-thick, unpretentious good-time rock music tailor made for head banging and hot boxing (not that we could possibly condone the consumption of illegal substances, cough cough).  It is then with great anticipation that we have awaited this release. But does it satisfy what we craved?

Since re-grouping as the founding three members in 2012 - with Pepper Keenan, a crucial member in the bands supposed 'glory days' too busy with Down to properly commit to the band - they have been on inspired form. With IX, their freight train sound shows no signs of grinding to a halt or slowing whatsoever. Greasy riffs, reverberating drums and every other trademark that we've come to expect from COC is stamped all over this record. Corrosion of Conformity has produced another exceptional record, one that stands toe-to-toe with the band’s most prestigious work.

The wah-infused harmonies of Brand New Sleep provide the perfect opening statement, embedded into a classic COC groove; Mike Dean's throaty rasp soars above the mix. While there are hints of Sabbath worship in here, the end product comes out sounding like no one but themselves.

Very much a continuation of their emphatic self-titled release (2012), the production is again startlingly crisp, giving the songs a more abrasive and puncturing edge. Lead single The Nectar sees the band’s hardcore and punk influences take the stylistic wheel while its many hooks claw at your skin.

As ever with COC, they intersperse quiet, lulling songs throughout each record to break up an otherwise blistering sonic assault. Where many bands would be hindered by such predictability, with COC, I for one at least look forward to these interludes. Much like Sabbath themselves, while these tracks may be short-lived they play an integral part in the entire aesthetic make-up of the record and the aptly titled Interlude doesn't let down in that sense. Whimsical, dreamy and beautiful it gives the listener a moment to breathe before the ear battery continues.

That ear battery that follows is arguably one of the record's strongest tracks in On Your Way. Employing natural harmonics between a barking groove, this will go down a storm in a live setting.

For a fleeting moment, you'd be excused for thinking that the harmonies that open Tarquinius Superbus were in fact a Queen or Thin Lizzy song, but seconds later you are hurtling head first into an adrenalized COC classic. Heavy and unrelenting, you just have to move to this. At 5:31 it's one of the longest tracks on the album and they utilize that time by twisting the song every which way. To use a cliché, it's a rollercoaster ride of a track and goodness gracious it is incredible fun.  

There have been murmurings amongst the writers here at Sludgelord about the perhaps monotonous characteristics that define Mike Dean’s gravel-shredded voice. For some, they grate after a few songs, but that’s a matter of opinion. You could, additionally, argue that this is where Pepper Keenan would help bolster the band’s impetus. But, when you play this at neighbour annoying volumes, it fails to truly matter. It is a mere defect to a fantastic album.

The last few years have seen a new era of COC ushered in with a series of punchy releases (with 2012’s The Megalodon EP bridging the gap between the two full-length albums). Not only does IX deliver what we hoped for, but they surpass that with an unwavering confidence – the sparks are flying on this one.  

Words by : Phil Weller

Pre-order bundles are for sale here and will be available everywhere for 24/6/2014