After getting a bit too polished for their own good on America's Volume Dealer, Corrosion of Conformity have returned with an album that's more raw, brutal, and epic than could have been imagined a few years ago. There's little in the way of hit-worthy (think Albatross, Drowning in a Daydream) material here. Instead, COC unleash lengthy, furious anthems that show they are still one of the coolest bands to hover between underground and mainstream metal.
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Corrosion of Conformity have spent the past twenty years delivering southern-flavored metal to rabid fans. Led by the soaring growls of Pepper Keenan, the band's music is loud and ferocious yet accessible and easy to sing along with. Despite lacking the extra-catchy songs of recent albums, In the Arms of God still retains that accessibility. So Much Left Behind puts a great deal of emphasis on injecting groove into the metal, especially in the guitar solo. It Is That Way has a plodding but powerful chorus ("It is that way because it is") that conveys the song's despair and frustration. Even slower is Rise River Rise a beautiful, partially acoustic track with another powerful chorus: "So rise, river rise/ Wash this place away/ Clean my dirty soul/ So I can save it for Judgment Day." But even many of the harder and faster songs contain choruses and other pieces that are instantly memorable.
And don't worry - there is plenty hard rocking on In the Arms of God. When lead guitarist Woody Weatherman takes over vocals for Infinite War, his growls have a Motorhead-like effect, making this the album's biggest headbanger. The Backslider has a very cool sound, adding some extra electricity into the medium-paced rock ... medium paced, that is, until it awesomely explodes at the end. And World on Fire fades out with a riff reminiscent of old-school Metallica. Nothing wrong with that.
Paranoid Opioid could easily be a punk track with its breakneck pace, but what could have been contained in three minutes is extended to six and a half. Rather than seeming overdone, it turns out to be a well done showcase of their metal prowess. It also adds to the epic nature of this album. Often concentrating on the ties between religion and war, In the Arms of God has an apocalyptic feeling, a theme enhanced by the presence of some seven and eight minute long tracks. It's the final nine and half minutes that give us the greatest feel of Armageddon, as the gentle Crown of Thorns leads into the fierce title track, which closes the album with Keenan at his most ferocious.
While it may not have the amount of standouts as Wiseblood or Deliverance, this is still one of Corrosion of Conformity's best releases. In the Arms of God takes what we love about these southern metallers and adds in a new level of epicness. This is clearly one of the year's most well-thought-out hard rock albums and a major triumph for this well-respected band.
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