It feels like we're watching the unfolding of something bizarre and unintended with Raleigh metal masters Corrosion of Conformity right now. Was it correct for the group to reunite as a three-piece despite claims that guitarist and vocalist Pepper Keenan is still part of the group but is focusing on playing as part of heavy metal supergroup Down with Phil Anselmo and members of Crowbar and Eyehategod? Maybe it will lead to some kind of drama causing Keenan to totally disregard the group. So instead of waiting for Keenan's return, they have returned to the three-piece lineup that was present on 1985's cult classic Animosity and made a confusing-yet-enjoyable return.
Apart from that, these two styles of music really keep to themselves across this album and the slower more stoner rock orientated material is found on tracks like the shimmering instrumental El Lamento de las Cabras which with it's scuzzy grooves and stretched out basslines is completely Sabbath-esque and Weaving Spiders Come Not Here which is rooted in doom-laden grounds but it's pounding rhythms make it very much badass listening.
And when the thrashier elements of the album take shape, the songs are filled with a much greater shot of punk velocity, sounding like the best bits of Metallica in the 1990s. When listening to The Money Changers and What You Despise is What You Have Become I tried looking for any notes which claimed that Corrosion of Conformity and managed to rope in James Hetfield again for guest vocals on this album, but I got nothing. However, this rapid bluesy playing of punk inspired rock and roll gives Your Tomorrow the sound of a more majestic Motörhead.
And so, when considering the whole album, one comes to realise that the performance here is simply epic. It's musically resembling of rock and roll and heavy metal at it's dirtiest doing so with a constant variation of styles and always a new trick to be found somewhere. And it's at this point where one wonders just how necessary the inclusion of Pepper Keenan would be. Sure he comes with a much greater charismatic swaggering performance but, is this what we need for this album? It's not exactly Van Halen. Really, wither the proper frontman is present or not, this album is perfect as it is. If this album is definitive of Corrosion of Conformity, then C.O.C. is just another term for awesome!
Corrosion of Conformity's self-titled album is out now via Candlelight Records. The band will play at the Bloodstock Open Air 2012 festival at Catton Hall in August.