Having themselves a busy 2012 with their self-titled album and the "Megalodon" EP, CORROSION OF CONFORMITY returns with their ninth recording, "IX". With this boisterous and slackened album, Mike Dean, Woody Weatherman and Reed Mullin move toward a dirtier, cruder and at-times faster vibe. "IX" often flirts with MELVINS territory, even if the predominant songwriting primer resembles the new CROWBAR joint. Purposefully undisciplined vocals, deafening guitar solos and a determined tearing down effect makes "IX" an ankle-twisting drop into the gutter. Never mind the pain, because C.O.C. brings the noise to distract you.
"Brand New Sleep" putters and pokes a bit with an off-the-cuff feel before assuming a groove, even if it's a dialed-back one, at-that. The song is sloppy through the first three minutes before kicking things up a notch with a SABBATH-hiked power pump and a screeching set of guitar solos from Woody Weatherman likely to send pets into a tizzy. The looser feel to "Brand New Sleep" is the untidiest C.O.C. has sounded since the "Eye for an Eye" hardcore years before the band's subsequent transitions to thrash and then sludge, doom 'n' stoner as we know them today.
"Elphyn" is tauter if still mucky. As with "Brand New Sleep", the guitar solos from Weatherman are stacked with caustic reverb. Splicing listeners' ears with a blast of squealing feedback leading into the fast whips of "Denmark Vesey", this is one of the first true nods back to the punk days we've heard from C.O.C. in some time. The reckless yet up-tempo crash of "Denmark Vesey" is just as chaotic as its predecessors, but cool enough, it's a set up for further increased velocity on "The Nectar". The latter song does peel back the speed like the new CROWBAR album does and again, Woody Weatherman goes bonkers with his solo here. "The Nectar" bobs along a few more bars before kicking up the speed briefly and bringing the track home on a muddy slog. These arrangements are repeated numerous times on "XI". From a songwriting structure perspective, C.O.C. and CROWBAR have essentially made the same record, albeit CROWBAR's "Symmetry in Black" is far tighter and gloomier.
"On Your Way" rides tall on the benefit of Reed Mullin's peppy flailing. Since rejoining the band in 2010, Mullin has brought more unrestricted beats to C.O.C. These have, in turn, produced the deliberate jerking back of finesse and ushered the raw vibe the band has of-late been seeking from one another.
"Trucker" once again gets slushy though its prolonged intro with intentionally off-key chords, signifying a debauched impression of its titular muse. Soon enough, the guys plant the pedal and plows "Trucker" along on its diesel-choked riffs. Mike Dean's lobbing bass pick-ups in the background canter amidst the faster portions of "Trucker" before C.O.C. yet again slows the rhythm, if not their momentum. Woody Weatherman pours another rowdy solo to close the track and then emits monster vibrations akin to a rolling farm tractor on "The Hanged Man".
"Tarquinius Superbus" roars from all stations like a wildebeest with its thrash bursts on the verses, smacked-up bass grooves, psychedelic guitar rails and outrageous screaming, collectively creating a tremendous racket. Again reducing the speed for the final couple minutes, the bustling, melodic tremors behind the clouting shifts in tone from Woody Weatherman changes the mood altogether, though not altering the heaviness.
"IX" is a holy rolling mess, but that's to the good in this case. C.O.C. are closer to their "Animosity" and (to some measures) "Eye for an Eye" roots than they've been in ages. Certainly "IX" is one of the loudest albums ever put down in this unit, so consider earplugs if you catch C.O.C. live. All three men are playing with a passion here and deliberately forsaking the polish of "Blind", "Deliverance" and "Wiseblood", even "In the Arms of God". Using the final 1:20 of "XI" to crawl their way out of this album with "The Nectar Reprised", the creative reappearance shows more concrete attention to song theory than all of its predecessors. With this curious parting shot, it begs the question of what to expect on album ten.