Perhaps the most famous member of Corrosion of Conformity, Pepper Keenan has sat out the last two albums from the band as he concentrates his efforts on Down.
This has meant original member Mike Dean resumes as vocalist and bass player and that the Southern influence so to the fore on Deliverance and Wise Blood takes a back seat to a more down tuned heavy blues feel. There’s more than a nod to the band’s 2nd album, the influential Animosity and as a 3-piece there seems to be more room for them to play.
The beauty is that the 3 guys on this record are the same 3 that started the band back in 1982 and that comfortable camaraderie can be felt churning away in the background on their 9th studio album.
Kings Arms July 20
COC seemed doomed to never make it back to New Zealand. The original financial backers pulled out and it seemed that was that but the situation was salvaged, then drummer and founder Reed Mullin damaged his shoulder and couldn’t play but the determination for the Australasian tour prevailed and Kylesa drummer Eric Hernandez was thrown into the mix on the back of three jam sessions. The result? Unadulterated stoner/doom heaven.
On their one and only previous visit to New Zealand in 2001 as support for Pantera the band was a different beast.
Pepper Keenan, was fronting the band and there was a strong southern feel to their sound, think Sabbath meets Skynyrd with some Black Flag thrown in for good measure. Now though Keenan is focused on Down so the three original members from back where it all started in 1982 are back together, recording and touring.
Mike Dean’s vocal and the absence of Keenan from writing duties mean a lot of the southern influence is gone and while the doom laden riffs echo Sabbath there’s something harder and harsher underneath. The old school hardcore sound last heard on Animosity is bubbling under the surface creating an unnerving dynamic that sits in the groove and jumps out to slap you in the face when you least expect it.
The set delivered drew predominantly from earlier albums Animosity and Technocracy and their more recent self titled effort. ‘Rat City’ opened proceedings and was followed by ‘The Moneychangers’, ‘Loss for Words’, Technocracy and ‘Holier’. ‘Deliverence’ offered something from the Keenan era but was delivered in Dean’s trademark tortured wail.
Special mention has to go to Eric Hernandez, the fill in drummer, who nailed the set. His playing with Dean sounded like it was a partnership years old and Woody Weatherman’s guitar tone was something to behold.