Karl Agell's Blind
Lincoln Theatre's Winter Metal Fest
Saturday, Jan. 6, doors 3 p.m.
Also performing: Widow, Automag, The Fifth, Sorrow Valley, Strychnine Soul, Bully, Here Lies and Blackwatch.
In Raleigh, Corrosion of Conformity might as well be Capital Boulevard. Almost everyone has heard of the band. Almost everyone has an opinion.
Karl Agell is intimately familiar with the Raleigh musical landmark: Agell joined Corrosion of Conformity in 1988 after responding to a vocalist-wanted advertisement in the Village Voice the previous year. He traveled to North Carolina, auditioned, got the job and finally moved south on May 24, 1989. The idea of hybridizing punk and metal wasn't altogether new for Agell: His previous hardcore band, Seizure, opened for C.O.C. in Springfield, Mass., in 1985, and what he describes as his crossover band, School of Violence, was signed to the same division of Metal Blade Records as C.O.C. Agell says he had been a fan of the band for five years when he auditioned, and he rightfully recognized the band as an underground rock mainstay.
"I was joining a pretty serious institution, and the reputation and logo that preceded them was important. I had no preconceived notions of doing anything other than holding down the job," says Agell from his home in Raleigh. "But it was an interesting point in that band's evolution. We were all old hardcore punk guys, and we brought that punk attitude and political bent. But we were also in admiration of the whole hard rock and metal thing, the sheer heaviness of Metallica and Slayer and Venom."
The crossover tendencies of his sole album with the band, Blind, met mixed reviews, confusing metal fans and alienating some of the band's longtime followers in hardcore circles. As Agell puts it, "Singing was considered a no-no in the punk community, and you were supposed to be gruff and yell. I realized I had a voice, so I said, 'What the hell?'"
Several weeks into making the next album, Agell was kicked out of the band. Pepper Keenan—who had joined as the second guitarist when Agell became the frontman—took over vocal duties. Agell stayed in North Carolina, though, remaining a musician and eventually forming Leadfoot. Most of Leadfoot will back Agell when he performs the songs from Blind publicly for the first time in over a decade this weekend. His new band has learned most of the album, but he doesn't care what his old band thinks of the show. He even adds Keenan can't sing these songs now, so this may be the only chance for most people to hear Blind live.
"There's not some big, huge plan," says Agell. "It's only a concert and a chance to take a walk down memory lane and see if we can pull it off, for better or worse. It's just songs on a record at the end of the day."