Underrated and Influential: Corrosion Of Conformity

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When a band has been established in one genre it’s often hard to break out of that shell. When Corrosion Of Conformity was formed, they started out as a hardcore punk band, then a lineup shift happened and they became a more sludgey southern rock band. Corrosion of Conformity (C.O.C.) was formed in North Carolina by Mike Dean, Woody Weatherman and Reed Mullin. Their debut album Eye For An Eye is regarded as one of the quintessential hardcore punk albums along with their follow up album Animosity. In 1987 Mike Dean departed the band leaving COC in a state of flux for a couple of years. The remaining members re-tuned the line up and searched for a new vocalist. After much searching, Karl Agell was recruited on vocals, Phil Swisher on bass and a gem of a guitar player in Pepper Keenan. In 1991 the bands music had shifted to more metal sounding with the release of their album Blind. This would be the first album of COC  to receive mainstream attention. The video for “Vote with a Bullet” (the only song with Keenan on vocals on the album) received airplay on MTV. In 1993, Agell and Swisher left the band and formed the band. Mike Dean returned and Pepper Keenan took over lead vocals. The following year COC signed a major label record deal with Columbia Records and released their great album Deliverance. Deliverance saw the band move more toward a southern metal sound that they took with them into the writing of their next albums Wiseblood and America’s Volume Dealer.  During this time as well their song “Big Problems” was featured on the soundtrack for Clerks, and “Clean My Wounds” was also featured in the anime movie Tekken.  Deliverance was the band’s biggest selling album. This was mainly due to the singles “Albatross” and “Clean My Wounds” becoming Top 20 hits on rock radio and the album managed to peak at number 155 on the Billboard charts. Wiseblood was released in October 1996. Despite producing a radio hit with “Drowning in a Daydream” and a worldwide tour with Metallica, the album failed to match the sales set by the previous album. “Drowning in a Daydream” was nominated at the 1988 Grammy’s for Best Metal Performance. Soon after the release of Wiseblood, Columbia dropped COC. The band then moved labels to Sanctuary Records. The band released its first album for its new label, America’s Volume Dealer, in November 2000. The album was even more of a commercial failure than Wiseblood not even managing to make the Billboard 200. However, the single, “Congratulations Song”, did give the band another Top 30 hit. No videos were made from the album. Reed Mullin left the band in 2001. Over the next few years, the band worked with a series of drummers Including Jimmy Bower of EyeHateGod/Down), Stanton Moore of Galactic amongst a few others. After a few years COC returned in 2005 and released their critically acclaimed album In The Arms Of God. This album performed much better than their previous effort, debuting at No. 108 on the Billboard 200.  A video was made for the song “Stonebreaker” which saw airplay on MTV2’s recently revived Headbanger’s Ball. The band spent the rest of the year touring the US and Canada opening for the likes of Motorhead and Disturbed.  In 2010 after a long hiatus it was reported that the Animosity lineup of COC had reunited and were working on a new album that was more in line with their earlier influences. During this time the band mentioned that Pepper was still in the band but was working on other projects at the time, mainly Down. In 2012 a self titled album was released with just the original three members. Not long after that the band quickly went and recorded another album entitled IX which was released in 2014. Pepper Keenan has stated that he looks forward to working on some Deliverance type material in the near future with the band.

This is one band that really deserves to be heard. Their influence can be heard in many many bands. When Pepper decides t come back into the fold after his commitments with Down have wrapped for a while, I’m sure the material they come up with will be heavy and full of the classic approach they have. Personally I’ve always dug the albums with Pepper on them.

 

Albatross:

 

Clean My Wounds:

 

Drowning In A Daydream:

 

Vote With A Bullet:

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