Many years ago when I was an impressionable teenager with a top lip full of bum fluff, desperately trying to grow my hair long and frequently indulging in the pleasures of self abuse, I was getting my musical arse kicked by the new releases “Master of Puppets” by Metallica and “Reign In Blood” by Slayer…in 1986 thrash was King!!! Then one day I stumbled upon an album called “Eye For an Eye” by Corrosion of Conformity. Their ragged fusion of thrash and hardcore hooked me immediately and I was sold!!! “Animosity” came and I’d spend hours soaking up the buzzsaw guitar lines and picking out every detail of the cover (this was the vinyl era…you could actually see detail on covers in those days!!!). “Technocracy” came and went then it all went quiet. I got introduced to bands like St Vitus and Trouble then one day my old sweethearts came back with “Blind” and it seemed they’d been on the same musical trajectory as me, my love was rekindled. Three years passed, no calls, not even a postcard and I started listening to stuff like Kyuss as well as maintaining my old interest in bands like Skynyrd and Molly Hatchet when what do you know, COC come a knocking again with an updated blend of Sabbath and southern rock. It was like they could read my mind!!! Basically over the last 25 years my musical heritage is mirrored in COC’s development and they remain one of my all time favourite bands.
With all that in mind when the news broke that the classic “Animosity” era of Woody Weatherman, Mike Dean and Reed Mullin were working together again as COC and revisiting the older catalogue, my COC got hard once again!!! As it happens this would be more than just a nostalgia trip, there would be new music and it would be on vinyl…oh yes, a shiny piece of black plastic just like the good old days!!! So, not unreasonably, I assumed that this would mark a return to the loose hardcore metal of yesteryear and prepared myself for a trip back down memory lane. Obviously listening to the new offering from the band it is clear that these aren’t the hungry young punks they once were and that time has broadened their musical outlook and honed their musical skills. Listening to this new 7″ is, therefore not the nostalgia trip I was expecting, but that’s no bad thing. In the COC time line this release could have come in the wilderness years between “Technocracy” and “Blind”. The hardcore is still there but has been tempered with a more classic approach as the riff drives the song home and Mullin shows that his time away from the band hasn’t diminished his skills in any way. Gone however is Mike Dean’s scathing vocal rant style and he has learned to sing!!! The vitriol remains but is now bound up in an Ozzy-esque snarl. Between the main riff and Dean’s vocals, repeated listens show this to be an extremely catchy tune. Once it gets itself lodged in the mind it’ll take a lot to shift it. In some ways this does hark back to the harder elements of some of the material on “In The Arms of God” where the band were aiming to get back to a heavier style but adds a greater level of simplicity and directness. Later era COC is never far away as the driving, heads down riffage soon gives way to a mid section that reeks of prime 70’s Sabbath.
Despite their history of major labels and big budgets, COC have really gone back to basics and both tracks here were recorded at their home studio with Dean engineering. The result is a warm, home cooked sound free from excess that really cuts to the point. What does confuse me however is that 5 years after the last official release from the band and over 20 years since this line-up operated together they could only manage to come up with one song for this release and record it twice. I was expecting “Your Tomorrow Pt 2” to be a drastic reworking of Part 1 or at least a different song that maybe explored similar themes…an extension of the original possibly. What you do get instead is an A side that sounds like the finished article and a B side that sounds like a work in progress version of the track. Now, this is a great track but I would have preferred to have heard a different new song…maybe next time.
After such a long hiatus and without the presence of Pepper Keenan on board this isn’t the spectacular fanfare I was expecting. Rather this is a tentative toe in the water to gauge reaction. This is a brave move from the trio; to revisit old territory after 25 years of clear musical progression and without the member that has come to be such a prominent focal point for the band, so maybe they’re right to exercise caution than come out with the big “hey we’re back” routine. Fans of the original band may not find this hard or fast enough whereas fans of the later years may miss the southern stoned grooves but for the few of us that embrace the whole package this is a strong hint of some good things to come.
Scribed by: Ollie Stygall