Yes, they've been known as CORROSION OF CONFORMITY for decades now, but in my day, calling them that would've gotten your teeth knocked out. At the very least, you would've been branded by the punk and hardcore sanction as a supreme poser. It just wasn't cool to call them anything else but C.O.C., much like you didn't dare say DIRTY ROTTEN IMBECILES. It's D.R.I., fool. The same applies to M.D.C., G.B.H., D.O.A., T.S.O.L., JFA and the more metal S.O.D. Even GOVERNMENT ISSUE diehards wouldn't think of calling them anything else but G.I.
You can blame the shift in band referencing upon crossover. As the sounds of many punk acts veered into metallic pastures towards the late eighties, C.O.C.'s transformation was perhaps the most startling. D.R.I., BROKEN BONES, CRUMBSUCKERS and SUICIDAL TENDENCIES went for an unapologetic speed metal approach, while C.O.C. all but demanded to be called by their full moniker for the future in light of their new musical direction. Following a brief touch on thrash with their "Technocracy" EP, the newly-incarnated CORROSION OF CONFORMITY abandoned their careening punk roots altogether for a banging, sludge rawk feel more in tune with BLACK SABBATH than BLACK FLAG. Of course, this genesis started as early as their sophomore album "Animosity" from 1985. Ever since 1991's renovation piece "Blind", they've constantly appeared on the lists of most metal writers as hipster amp lords.
Funny how time changes things, since CORROSION OF CONFORMITY's eponymous quasi-reunion album from this year flirts with the days of "Eye For An Eye" and "Animosity" along with doom modes in league with SAINT VITUS. Without the sludge-minded influence of Pepper Keenan these days, one might wonder if the "Animosity" lineup once again comprising CORROSION OF CONFORMITY is taking baby steps backwards towards just being C.O.C. again.
That argument could be made, since their revered 1983 debut emerges upon us once again in reissue form, included with the out-of-print "Six Songs With Mike (Dean) Singing" EP added for good measure. While nobody in their right mind would call "Eye For An Eye" a masterpiece of virtuosity, it does remain one of the hallmarks of street 'core, even if D.R.I.'s "Dealing With It", BLACK FLAG's "Damaged" and the entire recorded body of MINOR THREAT reign overtop it.
At the same time, "Eye For Eye" is the legend it is for multiple reasons. Forget what C.O.C. later became. "Minds Are Controlled", "Broken Will", "Rednekk", "Rabid Dogs", "No Drunk" and the "Negative Outlook"/"Positive Outlook" couplet are some of the most pulverizing hit-and-run affairs punk rock ever saw in '83 and beyond.
Even with broader songwriting with authentic intros (i.e., ones without squelching feedback as lead-ins, even if we adore that as well) and tricky fills as heard on "College Town", "Tell Me" and "What", they still erupt with punctuated moshing mayhem. Also on the longer side (longer for this album's minute-minded purposes, anyway), "Not Safe" slays recklessly and still comes off with a sense of calibration from Woody Weatherman's gnarly, Greg Ginn-worshipping chip-shot solo. The title song "Eye For An Eye" was once a staple at any hardcore show back in the day, while C.O.C.'s punkified torching of JUDAS PRIEST's "Green Manalishi" remains one of the ballsiest (and intentionally sloppiest) covers of all-time.
While bassist Mike Dean would assume vocal duties on "Animosity", there's no denying Eric Eycke goes down as the most agitated, energetic vocalist C.O.C. ever had. Reed Mullin is equally at his most hyper on "Eye For An Eye", flailing out bowled-over, choppy drum patterns caught downwind from the piston-popping disorder of New Jersey's ADRENALIN O.D.
Nowadays the risky overtures of calling out suicidal youth to get over themselves as C.O.C. did with "Negative Outlook" and "Positive Outlook" just wouldn't fly in uber-sensitive America. The times in which C.O.C. cooked up "Eye For An Eye" propagated a firebombing affair of sardonic, often hilarious hardcore music. The politics were different and the conveniences of today weren't even on the drawing board yet. There's a crusty, outmoded feel to "Eye For An Eye" that puts Gen X punkers and the metalheads who aligned with their cause into a happy, fuming place you can't quite describe to a newer generation. Sadly, that one can't relate to this album once appearing in cassette format and booming out of beat-up boomboxes with anarchy symbols spray-painted on the speakers. Don't hate, just listen up.
If CORROSION OF CONFORMITY ultimately wants to be C.O.C. again, then hell, that's more than alright.
- Ray Van Horn, Jr.