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Corrosion Of Conformity: Sleeping Martyr : 2000-2005

I must admit that with 2000’s America’s Volume Dealer album my interest wandered away from North Carolina’s Southern-sludgers Corrosion Of Conformity. Don’t get me wrong, the album that preceded it some four years earlier, Wiseblood, was a monster and two albums prior to that, Blind too was an all seeing statement of intent. In between had come the less focused Deliverance, but with America’s Volume Dealer, it’s not so much that the wheels came off for CoC, more that the juggernaut was parked up in favour of a static-home that still possessed a Southern heart, but one without any real force. Instead, the line-up of Peppar Keenan (guitars/vocals), Woody Weatherman (guitars), Mike Dean (bass) and Reed Mullin (drums) seemed content to drawl and crawl rather than employ the howl and destroy ethos that had made the band’s name. The main culprits in this unexpectedly relaxed about face were tracks such as the listless “Doublewide”, rock-lite of “Stare Too Long” and almost hip-shaking “Take What You Want”, which verges into pop meets grunge territory… However, it isn’t all bad news, “Who’s Got The Fire” at least injecting a little life into the formula, while “Diablo Blvd” at possesses a few flames in its belly. However, even the passing of 21 years, a remaster from HNE/Cherry Red and neat booklet containing the details of all of the releasees gathered together in Sleeping Martyr: 2000-2005 can’t stop this album being the lightweight of this band’s entire catalogue.

Thankfully this, for the time being at least, proved to be a temporary dip in the band’s fortunes and if there was ever going to be a way to set the ship back on the right course in the eyes of CoC’s fans, it would be through a crushing, killer live album. And that’s exactly what 2001’s Live Volume proved to be, the killer sludge instinct so lacking on the recent studio effort rekindled in spectacular fashion by a band thriving on being out on stage. From the Sabbathy doom of the introductory “These Shrouded Temples” right through to the closing “Clean My Wounds” barely a foot is put wrong. And in between highlights abound, with even America’s… material such as “Diablo Blvd” and “Who’s Got The Fire” suggesting that what had been wrong with the album they came from was the production and arrangements, not the songs themselves. With Mullin (who would later rejoin the band before sadly passing away in 2020) heading for pastures new, it’s drummer Jimmy Bowyer (also a guitarist connected to Eyehategod, Down and Crowbar) who makes his only recorded appearance with CoC on this album and it has to be said that he puts in a mighty fine performance. Something mirrored by his bandmates as they rip through the likes of “Zippo”, “Wiseblood” and “13 Angels/7 Days”, where Keenan’s vocals are throat rippingly superb. CoC always were and remain to this day a live force to be reckoned with and it would be no exaggeration to suggest Live Volume might just be the crowning achievement of their entire catalogue.

Another four years would pass before 2005’s In The Arms Of God would see the light of day, with drummer Jason Patterson making what would also be his sole appearance with the band. However, with Keenen, Weatherman and Dean looking to make amends for the poorly received America’s Volume Dealer, at least his single CoC album would be something of a triumph. Kicking in with the slow build of “Stone Breaker”, the song quickly takes what had been a worryingly sedate opening and kicks it into a riff fuelled but melodic steamroller and when the song morphs once more mid-track, this time into a determined grind, any early worries are quickly quashed. From there the riff becomes king once more, “It Is That Way” sitting atop a mighty shove of twin guitar howl and growl, whereas “So Much Left Behind” takes the mighty stoner doom blueprint and somehow manages to sit it atop convincing Native American rhythms. Add in the positively upbeat “World On Fire”, uncompromising “Infinite War”, where Keenan once more proves a real vocal force, and “In The Arms Of God” itself, and Corrosion Of Conformity quickly went from releasing arguably their worst ever studio album to unleashing one of their strongest. Some 16 years later it still stands tall, uncompromising and proud, and coming housed in a cool fold out digi-pack with mini-LP sleeves for the two studio albums (HNE continuing this infuriating trend of not giving all of the discs in this set the same treatment!) and an interesting, if short essay about this era of the band, this is the way to experience it.

Sleeping Martyr: 2000-2005 may well contain a disc of Corrosion of Conformity being far from at their best but Live Volume and In The Arms Of God make up for that and then some. If you don’t have either there’s simply no doubt that you really should.

Track Listing
 1. Over Me 
2. Congratulations Song 3. Stare Too Long 
4. Diablo Blvd 
5. Doublewide
 6. Zippo 
7. Who’s Got The Fire
 8. Sleeping Martyr 
9. Take What You Want 
10. 13 Angels 
11. Gittin’ It On 
 12. Rather See You Dead
 13. Steady Roller (Demo Version)

 1. These Shrouded Temples 
2. Diablo Blvd.
 3. Senor Limpio 
4. King Of The Rotten 
5. Wiseblood 
6. Who’s Got The Fire 
7. Albatross 
8. My Grain
 9. Congratulations Song 
10. 13 Angels/7 Days 
11. Vote With A Bullet 
12. Zippo 
13. Long Whip/Big America 
14. Shelter 
15. Clean My Wounds

 1. Stone Breaker 
2. Paranoid Opioid 
3. It Is That Way 
4. Dirty Hands Empty Pockets (Already Gone) 
5. Rise River Rise 
6. Never Turns To More 
7. Infinite War 
8. So Much Left Behind 
9. The Backslider 
10. World On Fire 
11. Crown Of Thorns 
12. In The Arms Of God

Added: December 2nd 2021
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Sleeping Martyr @ Cherry Red
Hits: 654
Language: english

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