CORROSION OF CONFORMITY seem to have come full circle. Their new self-titled album is a ripping homage to the early punk rock iteration of the ensemble, now entering their fourth decade, complete with the original line-up from the Animosity-days; Mike Dean, Woody Weatherman and Reed Mullin. If you’re a fan of COC’s eighties catalogue, this album’s adolescent fury will serve you well. If you’re more into the mature, heavily riff driven alt-rock of the Pepper Keenan-era, Corrosion of Conformity may leave you a little disappointed.
The opening track, “Psychic Vampire,” sets the tone for the entire album. A frantic waltz back and forth between a slow, gnawing riff and up-tempo punk rock passages, “Psychic Vampire” embodies the eclectic sound formula COC has been successfully working with for years. The following track, “River of Stone,” is centered around more heavy set riffs, but does not lack the manic vocals befitting of a punk rock anthem. “Leeches” is a full-fledged motorpunk track reminiscent of early COC as well as of Seattle kings of fast riff punk, Zeke. But the inflated atmosphere left behind by “Leeches” is quickly punctured by the instrumental “El Lamento de las Cabras,” which leaves the listener hanging on a veritable cliff of pent up energy. The constant sonic back and forth starts to wear thin at this point.
Unfortunately that feeling never really goes away. “Your Tomorrow” is kicked off by the absolute best riff of the album, and the breakdown chorus which clears the path for the tormented vocal line “Who brought this world of sorrow? / Who stole your tomorrow?” is superb, but it’s one of only a few pearls amidst an otherwise confusing collection of songs. COC get exponentially heavier as the album progresses, through “What We Become” and “Rat City” and finally the closer “Time of Trials,” without ever slowing down to a point where the full hair-swinging potential is unleashed. The final result is a weirdly directionless album of eclectic hardrock with punkish attitude.
COC’s genre bending formula is a risky endeavor that never truly pays off. Taken as a whole, the album has a similar effect on the listener to what a driving instructor must experience when his students confuse the brake pedal with the gas pedal. You’re forgiving at first, but after repeated whiplashes it starts to get old.
COC plays the Ink 'N Iron Festival on June 8th at the Queen Mary in Long Beach along with SUICIDAL TENDENCIES, TORCHE, T.S.O.L. and BLACK COBRA.