When you get away from all the stylistic and contextual considerations and just judge it on its own merits, Corrosion Of Conformity’s 2012 Self Titled album is a very competently made and fairly enjoyable album. It isn’t the best thing ever made, but neither is it a terrible mistake. It won’t please people who are into them for what Pepper brought, and it won’t please fans of classic 80s Hardcore, but it is a strong enough album that has a similar appeal as Black Tusk and maybe recent Entombed albums.
That being said; realistically it is an album that you need to provide a certain level of context for before approaching in a critical way as the particulars of the album’s line up and musical style are of interest to existing fans and therefore it is difficult to describe the album without first acknowledging that. So; on the previous four Corrosion Of Conformity albums (which a large portion of their fanbase know them best for) most of the vocals and a large part of musical direction came from the Southern Rock influenced Singer/Guitarist Pepper Keenan, who is not present on this album because he is concentrating on the Phil Anselmo fronted super group Down.
In Pepper’s absence, the vocals on this album are performed by founding member Mike Dean, who has been on every Corrosion Of Conformity album except for 1991’s Blind. Dean sometimes appears purely as a bassist and sometimes also handles the vocal duties.
In addition to Mike Dean once again taking over the lead vocal position, Pepper’s guitar slot is left unfilled and the band play as a three piece. The line up is completed by guitarist Woody Weatherman who played on every single C.O.C album ever and drummer Reed Mullin who has been on all the band’s studio albums apart from 2005’s In The Arms Of God.
The style of this album was prophesied by certain people as being a return to the Crossover Thrash style of their 1985 album Animosity, because they play mostly songs from it live and it had the same trio line up.
Stylistically, the band began life as a hardcore punk band in the early 1980s, then quickly adopted a Crossover Thrash style in the mid-80s and by the 1990s they eventually added groove metal, sludge metal, stoner rock, southern rock and doom metal influences in varying degrees on each subsequent album, all of which have ended up with unique overall styles depending on the ratio of all these influences.
The prophecy that the band’s 2012 album would return them to their 1985 sound and abandon everything developed since then did not prove to be the case however; the band certainly do incorporate large amounts of this style into the new album, but is important to remember that all three members were also on board during the 90s albums, which becomes clear when large amounts of Doom Metal influences pervade the album. The result is a raw and dirty sounding album, which has a lot of fat Black Sabbath influenced Doom riffs one minute, and speedy d-beat drumming the next. This is perhaps best exemplified by the track ‘The Doom’ and if you are unsure of whether or not you’d like the album, then I highly recommend listening to that track before buying.
Other highlights include the catchy ‘Time Of Trials,’ the aggressive ‘What You Despises Is What You’ve Become’ and the dark semi-acoustic number ‘El Lamento De Las Cabras.’
In conclusion, overall this is a pretty unique album in the band’s history and I think all types of Corrosion Of Conformity fans should all check the album out at least once and judge it on its own merits. If however you want a lot of Punk or a lot of Southern Rock, then prepare to be disappointed because this album is very much its own animal.