Seventh grade was perhaps the peak of my adolescence; a year filled with mushroom haircuts, tied-dyed Ren & Stimpy T-shirts, and moldy copies of ‘70s-era Playboy. It was also the year when my friends and I went out with my grandfather’s video camera to capture various acts of destruction on videotape. During one of these heedless acts of puerile violence—I believe it was the demolition of a shopping cart found in the back of our junior high—as my friend Jay was about to smash the cart with a cinderblock, he yelled the words, “corrosion of conformicy”. Regardless of the fact that he pronounced the name of the band wrong, it was an acknowledgement of the sheer power the band held; remember, this was about the time of “Vote with a Bullet”, off of Blind, CoC’s entry into the early ‘90s speed-metal genre.
Corrosion of Conformity always held the aura of “cool” to my friends and me, from their play-on-the-toxic-sign shirts to the fact that the main guy’s name was Pepper. It didn’t matter that we weren’t familiar with the band’s mid-‘80s catalog, which mostly meshed hardcore and metal, but who cared? During that one moment, we were corroding conformity, and it felt goddamn good. As we got older, so did CoC, releasing Deliverance in 1994, a mature effort that was more reminiscent of Lynyrd Skynyrd than Slayer, and proceeded the “stoner rock” era by about five years.
Since that time, CoC has been dropped by their major label, Pepper Keenan has done time in Down with Phil Anselmo of Pantera fame, and bands like Fu Manchu and the Hellacopters have garnered the “rock” spotlight. And all of a sudden, CoC reappear on the scene with America’s Volume Dealer, embracing the sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll cliches, and releasing a thoroughly good record at the same time. By balancing the rockers with more bluesy material, Kennan & Co. have put together a quality “good times” album that will no doubt excite fans of their last few records. Particular highlights include “Diablo Blvd”, which rocks hard with a Black Sabbath style, and “13 Angels”, which rolls along like a Sabbath sabbatical (perhaps the period between Ozzy and Dio). Nonetheless, Corrosion of Conformity have etched their own niche over the year, and don’t deserve to been lumped in with the rest of the bargain-bin Sab clones. If you like hanging out at Sam Ash or other musical instrumental retailers, you’ll dig this record.