COC’s New LP Proves It Was Worth The Wait Despite Its Production Problems

Courtesy: Nuclear Blast Records

Fans of the veteran hard rock band Corrosion of Conformity had plenty to smile about as this year opened.  That’s because the band released its latest full-length studio recording, No Cross No Crown.  The album, the band’s tenth full-length studio recording, has been received relatively well by fans, and justifiably so, as it takes listeners back to the days of Deliverance and Blind.  This is evidenced both in the album’s musical and lyrical content, which was crafted collectively by the band’s most beloved lineup of Woody Weatherman, Pepper Keenan, Mike Dean and Reed Mullin.  Keeping that in mind, the album in whole proves to be another welcome addition to the library of COC’s most devout fans.  ‘Cast The First Stone,’ which comes early in the album’s run, is just one of the songs that serves to support that statement.  It will be discussed shortly.  ‘Little Man,’ with its 70s stoner throwback sound and equally intriguing lyrical theme also supports that statement.  It will be discussed a little later.  ‘Nothing Left To Say’ also supports the noted statement and will also be discussed a little later on.  Between these songs and the album’s other 11 songs, the album in whole proves to be a strong new offering from one of the greatest names in the southern/sludge rock community.  That is the case even with the production problems that plague the album at various points.  Yes, that will also be addressed.  To that end, No Cross No Crown is still a record that proves again COC’s maintained place in the sludge/stoner rock community.

Corrosion of Conformity’s latest full-length studio recording No Cross No Crown marks the first time in many years that the band’s most beloved lineup of Weatherman Woody, Pepper Keenan, Mike Dean and Reed Mullin recorded together under he COC moniker.  The group’s reunion has led, in this album, to be what is one of COC’s most notable albums to date, along the lines of its classic albums Deliverance and Blind.  ‘Cast The First Stone,’ which comes early in the album’s run, is just one of the songs included in the album that serves to support those statements.  This is proven in part through its musical arrangement, which is a full-on, adrenaline-fueled rocker much in the vein of Black Label Society, Clutch and other similar acts.  The song doesn’t let up even for a second from start to end of its nearly four-minute run time.  That musical arrangement is, in itself plenty of reason for listeners to appreciate this song.  Of course it is only one part of what makes the song stand out.  Its lyrical content adds its own share of interest to its whole.

Keenan sings in this song’s lead verse, “Back in time before they crossed the line, and the truth was made of gold/Cross of paths that was based on the past, or so the story goes/Strike fear and the end draws near and the peasants wore a blindfold/Stack ‘em up, stack ‘em up, burn ‘em down and the peace remains unknown.”  He seems to be commenting on an age when people just gave in to the powers that be.  Interesting that the same sort of thing is happening even today.  He goes on to sing in the song’s chorus, “Burdened by a faith/Lost without a trace/Crippled by the tools/Made by the hands of fools/Start the fire and cast the first stone.”  This comes across almost as a call to action of sorts, as if Keenan is noting the power that religion has had on people and its impact, and that people need to stand up against those forces that be.  The rest of the song follows in similar fashion, again, insuring plenty of discussion through its metaphorical speak.  When this is coupled with the song’s musical arrangement, the two elements together make the song in whole a strong entry in the album’s body, and just one way in which the album proves itself another good effort from the band.  ‘Little Man’ is another was in which No Cross No Crown proves itself worth the listen among COC fans.

‘Little Man’ stands out in this album in part because of a musical arrangement that takes listeners back to the 1970s and the great stoner and southern rock music of the era.  Almost instantly, one’s thoughts move to Golden Earring, Lynyrd Skynyrd and so many other acts from that era in listening to the bombastic guitar riffs and booming rhythm section.  Of course that powerhouse musical arrangement is just one way in which the song stands out.  Its lyrical content serves to help it stand out, too.  Lyrically speaking, this song comes across as a piece about some people who have done someone wrong, and the struggle of trying to get through it all.  This is inferred as Keenan sings in the song’s lead verse, “Well I got me a distant story/So I wrote me a distant tune/Of how they used to bask in the glory/And how I wished that I could, too/Little man, be here tomorrow/They said they could change my ways, But instead they tried to stone me/And I been sleeping right here for a hundred days.”  He goes on in the song’s second verse to sing, “So I ran from here to El Paso/And arrived about half past June/Just in time for them to burn me/I think I woke up a little too soon/Little man, if you’re a preacher/Oh, then why you been looking so sad/He struck a match and then he burned me/Another honest man gone bad.”  Again, this all comes across as a story about someone who’s not exactly had the best of luck with people.  He even goes so far as to sing in the song’s chorus, “Now you know it’s hard to stop/Getting down from burning up/Now you know it’s hard to stop/Quit trying, baby/Just get somebody to save you.”  It’s as if the song’s subject is saying, “yeah, it’s easy to get down, and hard to get back up, but stop getting down and get back up.”  As always, that is just this critic’s own take on the lyrics and could be completely wrong.  Hopefully it is somewhere in the proverbial ballpark.  Win or lose, the song’s lyrics here display their own depth that is certain to get listeners talking just as much as the lyrics of any of the album’s other entries.  That being the case, it’s yet another way in which this song serves to show again, why the album is a good return for COC’s classic lineup.  It is still not the last of the songs that serves this end, either.  ‘Nothing Left To Say’ is yet another way in which this album proves itself worth the listen.

‘Nothing Left To Say’ stands out among its counterparts in large part because of its musical arrangement.  The song’s verses start out with a slow, quiet, almost brooding vibe.  That vibe gradually gives way to a much heavier, crunching sound that conjures thoughts of Black Label Society.  The back and forth of that soft and heavy sound is a powerful musical statement that does more than its share to keep listeners engaged.  Much as with the previously discussed songs, it is only part of what makes the song stand out.  Its lyrical content deepens its impact even more as Keenan sings, “Life gave you everything/An you threw it all away/through the heart of darkness/Never feels the same/Huh, it never feels the same/Living like a fool/Nothing gets nothing/And I got nowhere to hide/Searching for the truth has to mean something/I’m just pushing against the tide/Nothing left to say.”  The contemplative nature of the song continues in the second verse as he sings, “memories/They seem like dreams/And time’s a gift of tears/Just a map to remember this/A future never planned/It’s what we cannot understand/Running like a fool/Distant existence/You’re living hand to hand/Isolated man/Hard to understand/Nowhere else to hide/Long for the feeling/Stand alone and pray/Nothing left to say.”  There’s a lot to be said here, right from the lead verse.  The first half of the lead verse seems to address someone who didn’t appreciate how good he or she has had it.  That seems to be compared to the song’s subject trying to make sense of his or her own life, saying, “Living life a fool/Nothing gets nothing/And I got nowhere to hide/Searching for the truth has to mean something/I’m pushing against the tide/Nothing left to say.”  It’s almost as if that subject is saying that he or she is trying to figure out life’s intricacies by comparison, trying to tell that other person to appreciate what he/she has.  Once more, that is just this critic’s own take on the song’s lyrical content.  It is not meant to be taken verbatim.  That seeming message continues in the song’s second verse as Keenan sings to that person, “You’re living hand to hand/Isolated man/Hard to understand/Nowhere else to hide.”  Once again, this seems like the song’s subject addressing that person, saying, “you just don’t appreciate what you have in life” and that “I’m just trying to make sense of it all, and you should, too.”  Keeping all of this in mind – again this is not the only interpretation — certainly other interpretations are there.  Considering the depth of the song’s lyrical content and its musical arrangement, one can understand now why the arrangement constantly goes back and forth in its heaviness and brooding.  It really illustrates the emotion in the song’s lyrical content.  To that end, the combination of the two elements here makes this song yet another clear example of what makes the album in whole stand out.  When it is considered along with the rest of the songs not directly discussed here, the whole of the album proves to be a good new effort from COC, even despite its production and mixing issues.

The production and mixing issues in question come into play, luckily not throughout the entire album, but are noticeable, including right from the album’s first full track, ‘The Luddite.’  Keenan’s vocals are nearly drowned out by his band mates here, sounding like he is way off in the distance the whole time.  ‘Wolf Named Crow’ suffers from the same problem, as does ‘Little Man’ (just not as badly as the previous songs).  Much the same can be said of the plodding ‘Old Disaster.’  There is even a slight issue with this imbalance in ‘A Quest To Believe (A Call To The Void) in the song’s chorus sections.  While it is a noticeable issue, it isn’t so bad that it makes the record a failure.  It just is something that hopefully will be taken into account in the band’s next album. To that end, No Cross No Crown is still a good return overall for Corrosion of Conformity and a good return to form for the band and one that the band’s most devout fans will still welcome in their music libraries.

Corrosion of Conformity’s latest full-length studio recording No Cross No Crown is a good return and return to form for the veteran sludge/southern rock band from Raleigh, North Carolina.  Its production poses some problems, but those problems are not enough to make the album a failure.  They are just something, collectively speaking, that must be addressed for the band’s next album.  The album boasts its own share of positives in the form of the songs noted here.  Between those songs and the rest of the album’s entries, the album’s musical and lyrical content give listeners plenty to appreciate here even despite the occasional audio issues.  They give the album plenty of depth and, in turn are certain to generate plenty of discussion.  Keeping that in mind, the album proves to be one more that COC’s most devout fans will welcome in their music libraries.  No Cross No Crown is available now in stores and online.  More information on No Cross No Crown is available online now along with all of COC’s latest news and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.coc.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/corrosionofconformity

Twitter: http://twitter.com/coccabal

 

 

 

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Rubikon’s Third Album Was Well Worth The Rather Long Wait

Courtesy:  Round Hill Records

Courtesy: Round Hill Records

Roughly eleven years have passed since the up-and-coming blues/rock band Rubikon released its debut album The Hollow Men. Being that so much time has passed since that album was released fans couldn’t help but figure that the band would just be another that tried its hand only to fold soon after. However recently announced that it has in fact not gone away. As a matter of fact, it will release its third full-length studio recording Delta next month. The album, which will be released via independent record label Round Hill Records, boasts nine tracks of blues-based rock that will impress fans of Clutch, Deep Purple, COC, and even Zodiac to a slightly lesser degree. While the album boasts only nine tracks and comes in at a grand total of thirty-seven minutes, that does not take away anything from the whole of the record. Speaking of the whole of the record, the record is anchored by the full-on blues rock opus ‘Sermon.’ The song starts out slowly in its first few bars before really launching full force into a rather heavy piece that fans of both Clutch and COC will enjoy. The album’s opener ‘Live That Lie’ is another solid addition to this record. As is noted of the song, it is a work that is centered on the personal journey of the band’s members. Its heavy, blues-infused musical backing adds even more enjoyment to the song in whole. For all of the heaviness displayed throughout this record it isn’t without its softer side as is evident in the more reserved sound of ‘Wasting Time.’ This song starts off softly enough. But it doesn’t take long for the song to pick up even if only slightly in comparison to the album’s other songs. It’s just one more example of how worth the wait Delta proves itself to be . That is not to ignore the album’s other tracks. All nine of the tracks that make up Delta’s body each show in their own respective way what made the wait for this record worth it. All things considered Delta proves in the end to be a piece that any blues/rock aficionado will appreciate regardless of their familiarity with the band’s body of work.

Rubikon’s upcoming album Delta is only the third full-length recording that the band has crafted since forming in its nearly fourteen years together. Roughly eleven years have passed since the band released its debut album The Hollow Men. This new record proves quite well over the course of its nine tracks and thirty-seven total minutes that the decade-plus wait for this album was well worth it. That is most clearly evident in the album’s anchor ‘Sermon.’ The song’s bluesy/southern sludge rock sound instantly grabs listeners by the ear and refuses to let go. That is especially thanks to the transition of its slow, bluesy opening bars to the much harder, heavier riffs that make up the body of the song. The overall content presented in the body of this song in itself makes for plenty of enjoyment. The lyrical content incorporated into the song gives it even more enjoyment. Drummer/vocalist Diggs sings in this song, “I’m already dead/So long gone away/Lay my body down/Old-fashioned way/Old heart won’t last a day/Tryin’ to get back home/Sit here in them clouds/Watch over me.” Listening to this single opening verse, listeners would swear that they were hearing Clutch front man Neil Fallon singing instead of Rubikon’s drummer/vocalist Diggs. The similarity in the pair’s vocal delivery styles is striking. The similarity is just as striking as the song progresses through its near six-minute run time. That powerhouse delivery coupled with the song’s outstanding guitar work makes this song a solid anchor on which Delta can rest and a work that every listener will enjoy.

‘Sermon’ is a solid anchor for Rubikon’s new album. Drummer/vocalist Diggs’ delivery style partnered with the song’s musical content makes it a song that rivals anything ever crafted by the likes of Clutch or COC. It is just one example of what has made the decade-plus wait for Delta worth it. The album’s lead track ‘Live That Lie’ is just as solid an example of what makes the record so impressive. This mid-tempo rocker wastes no time grabbing listeners by the ear and holding tight. According to the band, the song is meant to be a commentary on the personal journey of the band’s members from who they were before to who they have become now. The song’s musical makeup does an impressive job of expressing that message. The contrast of the fiery energy exuded through most of the song to the more reserved sound of the song’s bridge, which comes nearly three minutes in, exemplifies that. That is of course not to ignore the song’s lyrical content. Diggs sings, “Well I’ve been knocked down in chains and lied to/That’s what you get when you don’t play the game/When I step out of line/You’ll follow.” These few lines in themselves paint a clear picture in regards to the comments of the song’s basis. The same can be said of the rest of the song’s lyrical content. What is present here is just a glimpse into the lyrical content’s ability to translate the song’s message. That content set alongside the song’s musical content makes this song an even more solid addition to this record and even more proof of why Delta was worth the wait both for the band’s long-time fans and for those that are less familiar with Rubikon’s body of work.

‘Sermon’ and ‘Live That Lie’ are both clear examples in their own right of why Delta was well worth the wait regardless of listeners’ familiarity with Rubikon’s body of work. While both songs exhibit in their own right plenty of enjoyment, they are hardly the only examples of what makes it so enjoyable. The band shows that for all of the heaviness and power exhibited, it also has a softer side of sorts, too. That is exhibited in the form of the slightly more reserved ‘Wasting Time.’ The song starts off as a fully acoustic piece that is just as certain to hold listeners’ ears as the album’s heavier material. Even at its highest points it still doesn’t get anywhere near as heavy as any of the record’s other songs. That is only one part of what makes this song so enjoyable, too. The manner in which the song’s lyrical content was handled adds even more enjoyment to the song. Because the vocal delivery style here is just as reserved as the music itself, it requires just as close of a listen. What can be deciphered from such an examination is that there is a lot of introspection here. The delivery style is a perfect match for that introspection, too just as with the song’s musical content. All three of the song’s elements connected, they show clearly why this song is just as key to Delta’s enjoyment as ‘Sermon,’ ‘Live That Lie’ and the rest of the album’s songs. All things considered Delta proves that while it was more than ten years in the works, it is an album that was well worth the wait whether or not fans are familiar with the band’s body of work.

Rubikon’s third full-length LP has been more than ten years in the making. Considering how long the wait has been for this record, it has proven with its nine tracks and thirty-seven minutes that the wait was well worth it. Whether for ‘Sermon,’ ‘Live That Lie,’ ‘Wasting Time,’ or any of the remaining half-dozen tracks that make up the body of the album, every element–both musical and lyrical–of this record proves itself important to the whole of the album. All things considered, Delta proves in the end to be an album that is a potential candidate for this year’s list of the best new independent recordings and best new rock records. It will be available Friday, August 21st via Round Hill Records. More information on Delta is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Website: http://www.rubikonmusic.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/RubikonUSA

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Prosthetic Records Announces COC Vinyl Re-Issues On The Way

Officials with Prosthetic Records announced recently that the label will re-issue two classic Corrosion of Conformity albums on vinyl.

Prosthetic Records will re-issue Corrosion of Conformity’s seminal 1991 and 1994 albums Blind and Deliverance. Each album will be re-issued on 180-gram vinyl. Release dates for the re-issues have not yet been confirmed. However it is known that re-issues for both albums will be limited to 1,000 copies each. Pre-orders for both albums are currently available in the Prosthetic Records webshop.

COC BLIND COVER ART

Courtesy: Prosthetic Records

Blind will be presented in a double-disc LP set in three separate 180-gram colors: purple (700 copies), black (200 copies), and clear (100 copies). It will also include a color lyric insert, liner notes by music journalist Chris Dick, and three bonus tracks that were included in the album’s 1995 re-issue on compact disc. The track listing for the upcoming vinyl re-issue of Blind is noted below.

“Blind” (2014 Double LP edition):

  1. These Shrouded Temples…
  2. Damned For All Time
  3. Dance of the Dead
  4. Buried
  5. Break The Circle
  6. Painted Smiling Face
  7. Mine Are The Eyes of God
  8. Shallow Ground
  9. Vote With A Bullet
  10. Great Purification
  11. White Noise
  12. Echoes In The Well
  13. …Remain
  14. Condition A/Condition B *
  15. Future Now (MC5 cover) *
  16. Jim Beam and the Coon Ass *

* first time ever appearing on vinyl

 

Courtesy:  Prosthetic Records

Courtesy: Prosthetic Records

Prosthetic Records’ re-issue of Deliverance will mark the first time in two decades that the previously out-of-print album has been re-issued to audiences. It will be presented in a gatefold jacket in three separate 180-gram colors: green (700 copies), black (200 copies), and red (100 copies). The track listing for Deliverance is noted below.

 

“Deliverance” (2014 LP edition):

  1. Heaven’s Not Overflowing
  2. Albatross
  3. Clean My Wounds
  4. Without Wings
  5. Broken Man
  6. Senor Limpio
  7. Mano de Mono
  8. Seven Days
  9. #2121313
  10. My Grain
  11. Deliverance
  12. Shake Like You
  13. Shelter
  14. Pearls Before Swine

 

Audiences can keep up with the latest on these re-issues’ release dates and all of the latest on other releases from Prosthetic Records online now at http://www.facebook.com/prostheticrecords, http://www.prostheticrecords.com, http://twitter.com/ProstheticRcds, and http://www.myspace.com/prostheticrecords. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

COC Makes Its Home State Proud Again With Debut Re-Issue

Courtesy: Candlelight Records/Lumberjack Records

Three decades is a long time for any musical act to last.  It’s an even longer time for an act that has spent most of its career flying well under the mainstream music radar.  For such acts, managing to remain relevant and successful is a major feat.  Not many non-mainstream acts can claim this badge of honor.  One of the few that can is Raleigh, North Carolina’s very own Corrosion of Conformity.  Corrosion of Conformity has always flown just under that mainstream radar.  Yet despite that, this band has remained one of the most important bands in both the punk and hard rock communities throughout its near thirty years.  As the band’s thirtieth anniversary approaches, longtime fans and new fans alike are being re-introduced to the band’s roots thanks to Candlelight Records and Lumberjack Records.

Candlelight and Lumberjack have officially re-issued the band’s 1983 debut record, Eye for an Eye for the masses.  Coming off the heels of the band’s self-titled release earlier this year, this re-issue is an excellent juxtaposition of the aforementioned record.  Both records boast the punk sound that made the band popular from the beginning.  In putting the two albums side by side, the progression that the band has made is obvious.  Even more evident is that while the band has grown, it hasn’t lost its punk roots in the time since its debut.  In comparison to the records released with former front man Pepper Keenan, the sound of the band’s debut is vastly different.  It would be improper to try and compare the band’s more punk based records with the more southern sludge rock tinged records.  That would be comparing apples to oranges.  The songs on Eye for an Eye are punk at their finest.  They are short, fast, and loud.  The longest track on this disc is just over three minutes.  And the shortest song clocks in at less than thirty seconds.  To be exact, it’s timed in at precisely twenty-three seconds long.  Whether three minutes plus or less than a minute, the intensity of this punk classic still makes it a fan favorite and a must have for any COC fan and fan of real punk in general.  It serves as a reminder of everything that was once right with the punk genre.  Next to the band’s new self-titled release, the pair serves as a reminder that despite the glut of happy hopping pop punk that plays across the airwaves every day, real punk is still out there.

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.