Album Review: Corrosion of Conformity – Sleeping Martyr: 2000-2005

Album Review: Corrosion of Conformity - Sleeping Martyr: 2000-2005
Reviewed by Matthew Williams

For any fan of Corrosion of Conformity, this neatly packaged three CD boxset, is brimming with wall-to-wall quality from start to finish. It brings together three albums from the early 2000’s from the celebrated American stoner/sludge/heavy metal stalwarts.

For those uneducated ones amongst you, Corrosion of Conformity were formed in Raleigh, North Carolina, originally as a hardcore punk band before the transition in the 90’s to a more southern tinged heavy metal sound and are still probably best known for their stunning 'Deliverance' album in 1994, which spawned my favourite Corrosion of Conformity track 'Albatross'. Their genre defining style of music helped to set them apart from the crowd because they were always prepared to develop and mature in a musical sense and enabled them to be the main support for the likes of Metallica, on their 1996 Poor Touring Me Tour, and this is when I first saw them at the NEC Arena, Birmingham.

As somebody who really appreciates Corrosion of Conformity, I’ve always found that they never really get the credit they deserve, and I just can’t put my finger on why, as the albums they make, the songs the write, and the musicianship in the band, is up there with best in the business. When I last saw them in Manchester in October 2018 with Orange Goblin, they ripped the O2 Ritz apart and with Pepper Keenan, they have one of the best frontmen around, he simply oozes class.

The trilogy starts with America’s Volume Dealer, which was originally released in 2000, and heralded their name change to COC. With lots of different influences, from southern rock to the latter-day Thin Lizzy inspired 'Congratulation Song' it also includes the classic '13 Angels' which originally dates to their 1996 'Wiseblood' album. During this era, they were fighting against the trendy Orange County punk scene led by The Offspring, and Columbia Records dropped them prior to Sanctuary Records signing them. But with other stunning songs like 'Who’s Got The Fire', 'Diablo Blvd' and 'Gittin It On', it still didn’t chart well, mystifying really, as the record is strong, but there’s no accounting for people’s tastes I suppose.

Album Review: Corrosion of Conformity – Sleeping Martyr: 2000-2005

After being around for 20 years or so, the band decided that it was time to release a live album in 2001. It was recorded in Detroit, Michigan in April 2001 with Down and Eyehategod’s Jimmy Bower on drums. And this release captures everything that is good about the band, as it shows the depth they have and allows them to showcase their undoubted talents. Their live sound is an eclectic mix, of raw aggressive power, combined with emotion and melody, and they are such a tight band, nothing out of place, four forces fused together as one for the greater good of their live crowd, who stand and watch a cohesive unit perform.

The live album also allowed Sanctuary Records to have access to their Columbia label songs, classics like 'Vote With A Bullet' and the aforementioned 'Albatross' but you’ll find yourself getting lost in the setlist, as its truly mesmeric from start to finish. By the end of the third song 'Senor Limpio', they will have you eating out of their sweaty palms, and with Mike Dean, one of the greatest bass players of all time, in full flow, they plough through songs like 'Wiseblood', 'Zippo' and 'Shelter' before ending with the anthemic 'Clean My Wounds'. Unadulterated class.

The third CD is 2005’s 'In The Arms of God' which meant a return to action after a lengthy break mainly due to Keenan working on the second Down album. With drummer Reed Mullin still not ready to return, Stanton Moore took up the sticks, and proved to be an inspired stand in, as the band had to re-record their parts in order to match his levels and gave the band a huge boost.

Surprisingly, the album was effectively recorded as an instrumental record, and Keenan remembers it as being “one of the best musical times” of his life and with a more focused groove to the record, and with songs like 'Rise River Rise', 'Paranoid Opiod' and 'In the Arms of God' it achieved their highest chart in the US and after tours with Motorhead, Alabama Thunderpussy and Clutch, they were firmly back in the hearts of their adoring fans.

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