It’s been a long time between drinks for a Pepper Keenan infused Corrosion Of Conformity to come to Australia and tonight they finally arrive having completed, as Pepper calls it, ‘a long way to swim’.
While the band have been struck with tragedy a little over a week ago when founding member and drummer Reed Mullin passed away, the wily old road dogs in the band honour their former sticksman by ploughing on and spreading the word of COC.
That word has filtered from the band throughout the metal scene over the last thirty years to bands like Adelaide’s Emergency Rule, who open tonight with a heavy groove you can dance to. The ferocity from the speakers of the dual guitar attack, underpinned with ‘as heavy as a herd of elephants’ rhythm section, brings everyone in from the bar to check them out. The riffs are straight out southern rock, the duelling solos sound electric and for half hour, Emergency Rule own everyone’s attention.
Corrosion Of Conformity have always been on that little-to-the-side of what people think of southern/ doom/ sludge-whatever you want to call it music. They started as a punk band, added a dollop of Sabbath to make them metal and have been unfairly lumped into any category whichever lazy journalist was writing. Underneath all this though are four extremely talented musicians who, like Sabbath, seem to have the basis of their music in blues and jazz. Just played with really loud instruments.
Pepper Keenan, in trademark wristbands, gets the heavy grinding riffs underway with Seven Days from the bands epic Deliverance album, as Mike Dean’s crazy bass takes the songs in all sorts of random directions. The band shows its diversity by going 100 mph on Paranoid Opioid which brings guitarist Woody Weatherman to the fore as the lead into Broken Man, which sounds as fresh as the day of release.
Keenan performs like your mate who has made it, he’s warm, affable and that boy can play a mean guitar as Albatross turns it up another notch. As founding member Reed Mullin passed away last week, Keenan and the boys take this moment to mention their friend and deliver a poignant and emotional 13 Angels in which you feel Keenan’s pain through his solo.
Dropping The Door and a brutally groovy Diablo Blvd are enough to leave most people dazed however COC ramp it up again with the still politically relevant Vote With A Bullet.
It’s during the bands encore, which starts with Born Again For The Last Time, that we see what makes live music and watching band like this so special. As the speakers basically overheat from Keenan’s performance, the band casually keep the groove going in the background while Keenan and crew make light humour of the situation. It’s in here the jazz funk component becomes clear as the band jam away before Keenan eventually fires back up.
Finishing with an epic ten minute version of Clean My Wounds, which features little cameos of Jimi Hendrix, the ecstatic crowd have been treated to an audio blast of southern good time metal. Everyone raises their glasses and celebrates Mullins legacy as his music lives on in what was an exceptionally great show. The ferocious blast of sound matching levels of Motorhead proportions, as we leave with our heads banging and ears ringing.
Live Review By Iain McCallum