Let’s just pretend for the better part of this review that Corrosion of Conformity was never a punk band. Let’s just pretend that there was nothing before Blind. I know I’m asking a lot, but let’s forget that C.O.C. existed before guitarist/vocalist Pepper Keenan joined the band. I’m asking you Waveriders to do so because this band needs to be perceived for what it is, or rather, what it’s not. C.O.C. made the transition from a hardcore punk band to heavy metal sludge lords. Yes, they started off playing music fueled by adolescent rage, and guess what? Like all of us, they grew up. Growth. Personal . . . musical . . . emotional . . . maybe they should have changed the band’s name to match this stylistic change, but they didn’t. They’ve moved on, and so should the rest of us. Okay . . . I’m stepping down from my Pope-box and getting into the album now.
“Albatross” and “Clean My Wounds” were the chart topping hits from the album, so odds are that I don’t need to go too much into either of these. For those who don’t know about these two mainstays you should probably know that they’re heavy in detuned Sabbath inspired riffagry, brimming with groove and swagger, and laced with venomous lyrics about Lord only knows. Like most of the lyrics from the band, they can be interpreted in a number of different ways. These two songs in particular could be about drug addiction, suffering through life surrounded by inhumane humans, dealing with the injustices of the world, or ironing a silk shirt. It’s up to you to decide, or better yet, call Pep to get his take on the lyrics. The short story of these two tracks is that the riffs are compelling, especially that of “Clean My Wounds,” and will inevitably have you riff hungry Waveriders coming back for repeated listens.
Interwoven between the dense musical tones, C.O.C. was kind enough to give us short interludes to gather ourselves before the next wave of hard hitting tunes roll in. “Without Wings,” “Mano de Mano,” and “#2121313” are all subtle instrumental pieces, strategically placed within the arrangement of Deliverance to help build the tension of the whole album. Without these tracks, the album would simply lack depth. On first listen, these songs may seem like nothing more than filler, but stop and listen to the tunes, specifically “Without Wings” with its pinched notes and airy acoustic guitars, and you’ll hear that there’s some serious musicality shining between the darkness of the heavier stoned out vibes. Think Zeppelin III to some extent.
“Senor Limpio” is C.O.C.’s musical equivalent of someone getting brained or, at the very least, sucker punched. The opening riff drops in like a pallet of ceramic tile pushed from a thirty story rooftop. Perfect guitar tones help propel the riff and Pepper’s vocals shift between that crazed out, psychedelic distortion to his straight up whiskey rich bellow, adding a million elements of emotion conveyed through a bevy of vocal utterances. I love drummer Reed Mullins approach on this one as well, as he assaults the bell of his ride, creating that ever so unique chiming sound. You gotta’ remember, back in ’94 we were listening to Pearl Jam mumble on about some guy and his butter, Scott Weiland sounded like he was swallowing his tongue while singing about flies and Vaseline, and that chick from The Cranberries was yodeling about Zombies. And while there was the whole black metal underground scene that was building itself on the ashes of burnt out churches, there was nothing quite this heavy hitting the mainstream. On this track, also pay attention to the guitar interplay between Woody Weatherman and Pepper Keenan. Loose approach and filled with passion and soul.
The title track, “My Grain” with its funked out Mike Dean bass vibe, the acoustic and mournful “Shelter,” and the Sabbath-y doom groove of “Shake like You” are all stand out tracks that deserve high praise. In fact, there’s not a bad track on this album. I never felt that Deliverance so much as fell into the stoner metal category as much as people didn’t know where else to put it, so that’s where they put it. The album’s too thrashy to be stoner, and too sludgey to be Southern rock, and too metal to be punk, and too good to simply be dismissed for not being what people want the band to sound like. Its heavy metal aside from any sub genre and it’s preformed by four cats who wanted to separate themselves from the rest of the music world at that time. Hell, that was fifteen years ago . . . the songs sound just as vital today as they did back then. I stand by that earlier sentiment . . . perfect metal album. - Pope JTE