Sunday Old School: Corrosion Of Conformity
Band Photo: Corrosion of Conformity (?)
Throughout the history of heavy music, there have been many influential bands. Some see their signature sound copied by hundreds, others only one album which can spawn a movement, but few can go from one genre to another and remain just as popular and important as they were before. One of the new bands who can legitimately claim this, is Raleigh, North Carolina’s own, Corrosion of Conformity. Corrosion of Conformity, or C.O.C. for short, formed in 1982 by bassist Mike Dean, who would also handle vocal duties, along with drummer Reed Mullin and guitarist, Woody Weatherman. After recruiting vocalist Eric Eycke, the group released their first full length album, "Eye for an Eye" in 1984. The debut featured twenty tracks, including a cover of the Fleetwood Mac song, "Green Manalishi," which had also been popularised by Judas Priest, but timed in at just over half an hour. This would prove to be their only album featuring Eycke, who left the band following the record’s release and so vocal duties were shared by Reed and Mullin on their sophomore album, "Animosity." The album saw the band begin to mix their hardcore roots with the emerging thrash metal genre, creating one of the first examples of crossover thrash in the process and was received very well, with several of their songs going on to be covered by such high profile artists as Metallica and Mr. Bungle.
It was decided by the band that in order to progress, they would need a new singer so that the music would be paired with one voice and so they hired Simon Bob Sinister, formerly of Ugly Americans, who performed with C.O.C. on their next EP, "Technocracy," which veered closer to thrash metal than their previous work. Despite this noisy output however, things were soon to go quiet for the band, when Mike Dean decided to leave in 1987, followed closely by Simon Bob.
After a few years of searching, a solid lineup was finally formed with the recruitments of vocalist Karl Agell, bass player Phil Swisher and guitarist Pepper Keenan. This new incarnation of the band took a more straight forward approach to heavy metal, a stance shown when they released their third full length album, "Blind" in 1991. The record was very well received and earned them their first taste of mainstream attention, particularly the song, "Vote with a Bullet," the video for which received airplay on MTV and helped the record eneter the Billboard Heatseekers Charts, where it peaked at number 24.
More changes were soon to follow however, when Swisher and Agell decided to leave and form their own band, Leadfoot, allowing Pepper Keenan to take over the position of lead vocalist. Mike Dean returned to the fold to handle bass duties and soon the group found themselves being signed to major label, Columbia. Their first release for their new record company proved to be a very successful one. The 1994 album, "Deliverance" drew largely positive feedback and saw the band break further into the mainstream with the singles, "Albatross" and "Clean My Wounds." The album did however mark the removal of their hardcore beginnings, taking on a blues inspired heavy metal sound, which followed on to their next album, "Wiseblood."
"Wiseblood" hit the shelves in 1996 and once again earned the group commercial success. The record also boasted an appearance from Metallica frontman James Hetfield on the song, "Man or Ash" and was able to climb to 104 on the Billboard Albums Chart, making it one of the best selling C.O.C. albums to date, though reviews for the record were somewhat mixed. Their place in the mainstream was further recognised when the album’s track, "Drowning in a Daydream," was nominated for a Grammy Award, as well as becoming a top thirty radio hit.
Despite the success of "Wiseblood," its failure to match the highs of "Deliverance" led Columbia to drop the band, though they soon found a new home with Sanctuary Records. Their first album for the label, "America’s Volume Dealer," proved to be something of a commercial failure, being unable to enter the Billboard album charts, though it did produce another top thirty single in the form of, "Congratulations Song." The disappointment factored into Mullin’s decision to leave the group, causing C.O.C. to use a number of different drummers, including Jimmy Bower of Eyehategod.
Though they had been through a rough patch with the release and touring for "America’s Volume Dealer," the band soon found themselves back on track with the release of their 2005 album, "In the arms of God," which was critically acclaimed and debuted at 108 on the Billboard Album Chart, despite the lack of radio hits which had spurred on the success of some of their previous releases. However, the success of the album and subsequent tours with Motorhead and Disturbed did not prevent the band from going on hiatus in 2006, owing largely to Keenan’s desire to work on new material with Down.
In 2010, the "Animosity" lineup of Corrosion of Conformity reunited, though Pepper Keenan has not been omitted from the group, and announced their intentions to write a new album. This new album, which despite featuring the "Animosity" lineup continued their stoner metal sound, was released a self-titled effort in early 2012 through Candlelight Records to strong reviews, with an EP, "Megalodon" also being released later that year. The band are now hard at work on their next full length album, which is expected to be released later this year. What fans can expect remains to be seen, though from their hardcore beginnings to bluesy progressions, C.O.C. are yet to truly let down their fans, something which we all hope will continue with their next outburst of heaviness.
Corrosion of Conformity - "Intervention"
Corrosion of Conformity - "Dance of the Dead"
Corrosion of Conformity - "Vote With A Bullet"
Corrosion of Conformity - "Albatross"
Corrosion of Conformity - "Drowning in a Daydream"
Corrosion of Conformity - "Stone Breaker"
Corrosion of Conformity - "Psychic Vampire"
Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com for four years and has been a metal fan for ten years, going so far as to travel abroad for metal shows.
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