Corrosion Of Conformity

IX

Written by: AP on 14/08/2014 21:58:33

Despite the veritable roll on which Corrosion of Conformity have been these past few years, the original trio of Mike Dean, Reed Mullin & Woody Weatherman having reconvened in 2010 for heavy duty touring and new material in the form of 2012's excellent self-titled album and the hastily assembled "Megalodon" EP; there is no escaping the spectre of Pepper Keenan who, in the 90's, freed the band from its early shackles of hardcore and reshaped it in his own Southern fried image. Certainly not when taken into account that prior to the band's hiatus and re-union in 2005 & '10, Dean only sang full time on 1985's "Animosity" before giving way to a succession of revolving doors vocalists until, in 1989, Keenan arrived and took over. Fans of the stoner rock incarnation of Corrosion of Conformity, particularly the genre classic "Deliverance" from 1994, would thus understandably view Dean as a sort of grudging interloper, and eagerly await the proposed return of Keenan to the pack so that the golden era might be resurrected.

That said, this latest studio album "IX" is hardly the backward glance toward the "Animosity" period that cynics will have expected: only "Denmark Vesey" and parts of "The Nectar" and "Tarquinius Superbus" off it deliver nods toward the crossover approach of old, with much of the album ironically sounding closest to the Keenan era, if anything. It is as though this revamped line-up is deliberately attemping to shed Keenan's influence whilst still betraying a transparent affinity for it. Songs like "Elphyn" find the band at ease, enlisting the groove laden riffs and 70's boogie that cast a spotlight onto Corrosion of Conformity in the first place. But as arresting as Weatherman's take on such is, his searing blues cannot carry the weight of "IX" on their own, and regrettably, Dean lacks the breezy charisma of Keenan's singing, the personality, and the attitude, his howl giving the music a stripped down, and decidedly less far reaching appeal.

As such, it is no surprise songs like "The Nectar" - once it grows tired of its initial punk gallop - bear a sound more akin to the classic doom of Trouble or, in the case of "The Hanged Man", Black Sabbath; leaving the rock'n'roll deviancy of 1991-2005 a distant memory. What specks of irresistibility remain are consolidated in the lead single "On Your Way", the energy and rolling riffs of which make it the catchiest song Corrosion of Conformity have written since Dean resumed singing duties. And, in the opposite end of the spectrum, rests the moody "Trucker", which drags its feet through sullen, blues laced balladry, before picking up the pace for a trot that reeks of 'Sabbath worship in the best possible way. But with half the album entirely expendable (particularly those embracing the band's crossover past), its highlights labour in futility; with two or three exceptions, they aren't singularly capable of producing the necessary wow effect to seriously woo me.

Instead, "IX" presents itself as an album on which the stamp of quality is a little worn, many of the songs lacking the nerve and bravado that once cemented Corrosion of Conformity as a cornerstone of the stoner rock genre. It's solid, but if asked to pinpoint a song or merely a moment with the capacity to immediately capture one's attention and form a truly lasting impression, I wouldn't be able to. Arguably (and evidently), a band with the experience and accompanying prowess of Corrosion of Conformity should not be able to write a wholly disappointing album as long as no drastic adjustments are made. But in the context of the band's own discography, "IX" will surely be remembered as one of their more forgettable efforts.

Download: Elphyn, On Your Way, Trucker, The Hanged Man
For the fans of: Black Sabbath, Dozer, Fu Manchu, Pentagram
Listen: Facebook

Release date 24.06.2014
Candlelight Records

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