Corrosion Of Conformity - In The Arms Of God
It took some time for them to put out the follow up to Americas Volume Dealer (2000), and the only real sign of life I have heard from the band since then is Mike Dean's guest appearance on Probot, the all-star project from Dave Grohl (Nirvana, Foo Fighters), and little did I knew that the track there would display some of what was to come with In The Arms Of God. From hardcore, through thrash, stoner and sludge metal they have forced their way through, and with America Volume Dealer they made an album that stood out from the others while carrying lots more of the southern rock influences then what their music normally holds, and also it was more slick sounding then what is significant for Corrosion Of Conformity. Although it was a good album with many great tracks that I still very much enjoy, it lacked somewhat the rawer edge that I like so much about C.O.C.
This is a band impossible to label due to the diversity the have, although it simply sounds like C.O.C. all the time, whether it is the more softer southern rock side on Americas Volume Dealer, or the heavier stoner side on Blind (1991), or the thrashier side of Wise blood (1996) and Deliverance (1994). At all times is sounds nothing but C.O.C., and you can bet your ass that is sounds like C.O.C. this time around as well, more vital and alive than ever. Already with the opening riff you get goose-bumps, the band has described the new album as "Black Sabbath on steroids" and now I know what they are talking about, just listen to the track Dirty Hands Empty Pockets and you might get the picture.
They have found their way back to the rawer sound and the traces of the core roots shine through at times as well as you can find a bit of blues as well. In The Arms Of God have the heaviness of Blind and holds the same rawness found on Wiseblood. Riff oriented and ultra heavy as always, but there is more to it than just heavy riff, dazzling leads and some really quality solos with a splendid touch of both southern rock and blues, and then I haven't mentioned the harmonies. The heavy riffs in songs like Stonebreaker and In The Arms Of God, combined with a mighty groove, display the band at its best, while the semi-acoustic track Rise River Rise shows the more softer and emotional side of the band that obviously is very well capable of more calmer songs as well. To mention something about the voice of Pepper feels appropriate as well, he has a raw touch to his voice as well as there is an emotional side too. That combined make him a great vocalist for both the harder parts as well as the softer. His voice sounds very personal but if I should try to describe it is like a mixture of James Hatfield, Zakk Wylde and Chris Cornell. The track Infinite War shows the guys at their harder side, but even if it is one of the rougher tracks it has that kind of harmony part with a southern rock touch making it something more, and extra credit handed out for the church bell sound that gives the song a bit more push to the mighty groove.
John Custer (Cry of Love) is in charge of the production once again, a long time partnership that works so damn good that I hope that they will never change producer. He has made the album sound a bit dirty with an earthy sound and even though there is compact wall of heavy riffs, the sound is still clear enough so that the guitars and melodies are not drowned in the massive sound. Sabbath on steroids with a hardcore edge packaged with a southern rock feeling, that's In The Arms Of God in one sentence. Does it sound schizophrenic? Well, it isn't, it is simply C.O.C. This might just be the best album C.O.C. has ever done, and even if I can't spot any future classics in the vein of Vote With A Bullet or Clean My Wounds, this is the most complete and even album from the band up to this date.