Corrosion of Conformity were once flirting with the crossover eugenics at one time, way back when the band was just a trio of ravenous rockers. Many things have changed under their banner, but on the band's self-titled full-length record, we get the essential gist of what Corrosion of Conformity truly stands for. A pause of seven years since the great "In the Arms of God" and the absence of longtime vocalist Pepper Keenan does little to slow the band down here; the reunited trio of Mike Dean, Woody Weatherman, and Reed Mullin explode in a punkish exploitation of classic metal giving nods to every monumental album released in the thirty-year rampage of their signature in-your-face madness only Corrosion of Conformity could manufacture. Hell, this album is so unbelievably catchy and consistent that it may well be the magnum opus of this timeless band; it's my opinion that they've never looked so rejuvenated and fresh.
Corrosion of Conformity has a history of changing sounds quite dramatically throughout their extensive biography, but this puppy is a lot more well-rounded than most and not so extreme; in essence, it sounds like an amalgamation of almost everything they've done scattered in varying degrees. Of course, the biggest obstacle here was the transition from the southern/sludge sound the band had practiced since Pepper overtook the role as Corrosion of Conformity's vocalist, and there's a big shift from his gruff tone back to Mike Dean's tenor that suits the old-school punk/crossover coat of Corrosion of Conformity's early days and this album just fine. His ability to perform as a vocalist is really magnified compared to "Animosity" or other primordial efforts; it's almost surprising how good he sounds upfront and in your face.
How's the sound? Well, above and beyond the call of corrosion, that's for sure. A lot of folks were banking in on a hardcore/crossover-inspired juxtaposition like the squad's first few releases. It's not necessarily the base of the album, yet there's more than enough samples showing signs of a time long past through the hammering attitude of "Leeches" and haymakers circa 1984 on "Rat City." Anthems like "The Doom" and "Your Tomorrow" conjure an image of Sabbath sins lightly caressing the southern tints of "In the Arms of God" or "Wiseblood" to a mild yet noticeable extent; both are fantastic despite being a bit of a departure from the punchy tunes, and are probably the record's finest creations. They find appropriate unions between the southern/sludge approach and the sensational punk attitude on the busty "Psychic Vampire" and "The Moneychangers," two remarkably fun numbers. Enjoy having both in your head forever. All eleven tunes are unique and dazzlingly powerful, certainly one of the most consistent achievements Woody and crew have ever achieved.
In the end, "Corrosion of Conformity" isn't punk, crossover, sludge, southern rock, or heavy metal. No, this is Corrosion of Conformity, and they jerry-rig each sound in mechanical perfection. Overall, this release completely rules by any measure or scale, a true testament to the group's impeccable longevity and originality reaching a new prime over three decades after the conception of what would be Corrosion of Conformity. Here's a final thought: don't withdraw your investments because it's without a certain spice commonly found in restaurants. It connects so many sanguine facets that it really doesn't matter in the end, and "Corrosion of Conformity" lives up to its name. Kids, this is Corrosion of Conformity.