It’s notable that, at least until now, Corrosion of Conformity has never released a self-titled album. Over its almost 30-year history, the band has been a revolving door of membership. Only guitarist Woody Weatherman has never left the band. But older and wiser and returned to its founding trio of Weatherman, bassist/singer Mike Dean and drummer Reed Mullin, COC appears to have decided how its legacy should be remembered.
Corrosion of Conformity is the band’s ninth album (counting 1987’s brief Technocracy) and its most wide-ranging, too. Here, the band discards nothing from its past, creating a new context in which the idea of separating the band into distinct “eras” feels pointless. Songs like “Leeches” rage with a speed and intensity unseen since this lineup’s last venture together, 1985’s Animosity. “River of Stone,” meanwhile, favorably recalls the band at its Sabbath-worshipping, arena-metal peaks. “The Doom” pulls together both poles, and the bluesy meander “El Lamento De Las Cabras” stakes out a new one.
Despite the success of 1991’s Dean-less Blind and the surprising return to form of 2005’s Mullin-less In The Arms of God, it’s no real gamble to say Corrosion of Conformity is at its best when Dean, Mullin and Weatherman are together. Hindsight is 20/20. But with this comeback, it looks like COC’s vision of the future is pretty sharp, too.
Corrosion of Conformity will be available via Candlelight Feb. 28.