Courtesy of Candlelight Records
Corrosion of Conformity’s self-titled, kind-of-reunion
album seemed eager to excite and upset Corrosion of Conformity’s schism-prone fanbase. There were punk rock blitzkrieg’s to light a spark for old-time fans and languid blues riffs to please those more partial to the band's big-label heyday. Indeed, COC used that 2012 album as an opportunity to funnel its disparate past guises into a new one. They could still play fast and loud, but now do it with more dexterity than their hardcore-era outbursts. They could still unfurl a deliberate hard-rock riff, but they did it without longtime frontman Pepper Keenan. Corrosion of Conformity continued to confound.
And so they do, again, on “The Nectar.” The first offering
from the forthcoming IX
—due in June, it’s the band’s ninth album if you don’t count the hefty EP Technocracy —does what Corrosion of Conformity managed within the span of four-and-a-quarter minutes. It opens with a speed riff worthy of High on Fire, punctuating the heavy-metal momentum with cymbal shots. But after its first minute, the song drops into humid, Sleep-like doom. Woody Weatherman’s sputtering solo at the two-minute mark evokes classic rock finesse and hardcore impulse. After a brief return to the breakneck speed-metal that opens the track, COC closes with a slog through heavy sludge.
None of the elements, not even the vague pepperings of New Wave of British Heavy Metal melody, are new tricks for the famously chameleonic band, but the boldness and surprising fluidity with which they move through them are rather new. Again, COC manages to celebrate and subvert its own legacy.