Corrosion of Conformity – IX (Candlelight Records)

Thursday, 19th June 2014
Rating: 7.5/10

Sans-Pepper Keenan COC does just fine for itself, thank you very much. Their 2012 self-titled semi-comeback was all sorts of rad, full of wily old metal-on-punk, somewhat Southern-style. And better yet, it wasn’t some silly update of Animosity or Technocracy – the trio brought some new things to the table, specifically some rather gnarly vocals from bassist Mike Dean. After some big-time touring across the globe and back, the band returns with the aptly-titled IX, which of course, is in reference to this being their ninth studio foray.

More on the roots-y side than its predecessor, IX eschews a good portion of the full-throttle happenings found on the self-titled album. There’s more Southern boogie here; some of the tunes are more restrained and rock-y, which is fine considering in some parts, COC are considered a rock band. As is the common thread between the two albums and three-piece lineup, the songs have a tendency to willingly wonder off course, resulting in far less commercial-sounding dives than the band’s previous incarnation. In a handful of spots, the results are what anyone could want, like on “The Nectar” or the hard-charging “On Your Way.”

Gotta love those slow-rolling harmonies on “The Trucker,” which eventually give way to some direct, pushy metallic crossover. The album’s best cut, hands-down. And don’t ignore Dean throughout the proceedings; he’s animated, and oddly melodic, as found on opener “Brand New Sleep” and the Deliverance-romp of “Who You Need to Blame.” (Drummer Reed Mullin also lends some lead vocals, too.)

Afforded the rare opportunity to trot out two versions of the band that appease the metal masses, Corrosion of Conformity maintain their level of validity on IX. Granted, its predecessor had a little more urgency to it, but that was a foregone conclusion given the band’s then-recently reactivated status. Never mind that, COC rolls on just fine. (And if they stick out as a trio for the remainder of their career, then that’s just fine too.)

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