bITS 'N CHUNKS
Labels and the general culture of us vs poseurs taught me not to trust anyone that gives themselves an actual category. I know, that's stupid but it was a big thing back in The Day™.
Why? Because labels put you in a box and meant you were a puppet. If you voluntarily called yourself glam metal then we already knew what you were all about and there was no room for anything else. That's why to this day a lot of older goths still hiss at the "goth" label, because of what it is and what it has become. When you get tired of explaining things to people, it's easier to distance yourself.
The only people that I know of that lean head first into categorization is metal heads and punks and even that is not always a given. You can find generic headbangers anyway and most of them will definitely let you know, but there's a lot of us that hate subcategories for example. Punks are…well, punks. A lot of us don't care either.
Now, depending on how old you are you probably had to re-read that last part. Did you just refer to "us" as both punks and metalheads? Yes, there was a time when those two categories mixed like cesium and water. Labels suddenly matter a lot when you need to know what club to go to so you don't get your ass kicked.
That being said, with that kind of history it's weird to think at some point punks and metalheads would meet, agree, shake hands, and not murder each other. But it happens all the time. Goths and rockabilly stray cats met up for gothabilly or psychobilly and that's kind of weird. Apparently the meeting of minds of metal and hardcore punk was crossover.
Transference is here.
Corrosion of Conformity was the first time I heard "crossover thrash" used as a legitimate subgenre. There are others, like Prong, Spirit Caravan, DRI, SOD if you squint. COC has two modes -- four piece with Pepper in tow and three piece. The original three piece was primarily a noisy abrasive punk outfit and that was cool, but with more members and more influence things shifted around. Finally, with Pepper helming vocals and guitar and pushing the musical direction, COC settled into a thrashy…southern…sludgy metal borderline gospel type deal with occasional jazz elements? They go back and forth. I ended up relating to this incarnation the most because it combined the elements of speed, world weariness, hardcore, and melody I like in my music.
After some time off for other projects, COC congregated for a couple of EPs and an album, and after some touring they are back together with Pepper and are due to release a new record in January. That alone is worth celebrating but I wanted to talk about an album that I personally felt was pretty underrated, 2012's Corrosion of Conformity.
Corrosion successfully merged the latter southernsludgethrashtypedeal sounds with their earlier punk roots. It's fast, it's slow, it's in the middle. It's not really trying to be anything in particular and is to me very much a statement album. Despite containing no Pepper it felt like the most obvious continuation of the Wiseblood era musically and thematically. Do COC suddenly contain no ambition without Pepper around? I don't think so. The ambition is definitely there, just geared in a more earthly direction.
I say "earthly" because during this period Pepper was mostly over in Down, recreating the mournful moans and cries of the Delta washed up upon the ghostly banks of a very Southern gothic landscape. And it's epic, but when I listen to Corrosion and, say, Down IV, I remember there are very different kinds of "southern". The southern found on the lurching "Psychic Vampire" and the open wails of "El Lamento de las Cabras" hit a little closer to home for me. Another deserving stand out is "The Money Changers", which is the song I play when I have to pay my bills and I might be a day late.
Mike Dean is perfect. He doesn't have the vocal sophistication or gospel runs of Pepper, but he doesn't need them and neither do these songs. Sometimes you just craft something so specific to yourself that it's hard to imagine passing the mic to someone else. And for those of us complaining that after America's Volume Dealer and In the Arms of God COC was becoming Pepper Keenan and friends, this album is definitely more communal and it sounds like it. After the exhausting, intense In the Arms of God this was such a nice break while still sounding exactly like the same band.
So, crossover doesn't mean that much these days and most of the bands that fall under that label are just as easily at home on a thrash tour. That’s fine because like I said, I really don't trust anyone that can look me dead in the eye and tell me, "we're a crossover thrash group with shoegaze elements". That means nothing. I'm drawn to things that blur the lines and blast my expectations. COC does it over and over while never losing their identity whether it's three-piece mode or all out thrashing four-piece mode. Oh, and No Cross No Crown is going to crush, by the way.
Ia! If you've come this far, you're either looking for weird or you know you've found it...