In the summer of 2010, the founding members of the pioneering underground metal band Corrosion of Conformity—bassist/vocalist Mike Dean, drummer/vocalist Reed Mullin and guitarist Woody Weatherman—gathered at Weatherman’s farm in the Virginia hill and began jamming together as a three piece for the first time since the mid-1980s.
This was the classic COC lineup behind 1985’s Animosity, the album that Decibel magazine recently called “a crucial stylistic lynchpin in the bridge between metal and punk” that “irrevocably reshaped crossover’s sonic possibilities.” The trio re?learned songs from that album and 1987’s Technocracy, but this was not just an exercise in nostalgia. They soon began writing new material. “It was a little strange at first but pretty quickly it felt like we hadn’t missed a beat,” says Dean.
By August COC had released the single “Your Tomorrow” on experimental metal label Southern Lord Records and went on to play shows from coast to coast—everything from the renowned Power of the Riff festival in Los Angeles (with a set that LA Music Blog called “incredible”) to an underground party in the band’s hometown of Raleigh, N.C. It’s been six years since the release of COC’s last album, In the Arms of God, with the lineup of Dean, Weatherman, longtime COC vocalist/guitarist Pepper Keenan, and guest drummer Stanton Moore of the jazz-funk band Galactic, one of the several drummers who filled in while Mullin recuperated from a drumming-related injury. Representing the more straightforward metal sound that characterized COC’s work with Keenan beginning with 1991’s Blind, In the Arms of God earned critical praise, with Billboard calling it a “riff-fueled set that ranks with [the band’s] best work.”
Following that release in early 2005, COC toured the U.S. and Canada with Motorhead, one of their biggest influences, and later teamed up with Clutch for a UK tour. But after Hurricane Katrina and the catastrophic flooding of New Orleans that August, COC canceled a scheduled trip to Europe so Keenan and Moore—both New Orleans residents—could go home to help rebuild. Meanwhile, Keenan got back together with the New Orleans-based metal supergroup Down, putting out one album in 2007 with another set for a 2012 release.
COC has plans to record again as a four-piece. But for now, the new “old” lineup is enjoying the return to their roots. “Mike, Woody and I essentially learned together how to play music and cultivated our own style and sound and unspoken language,” says Mullin. “I’ve known Woody since fifth grade and Mike Dean since 1982, and re-bonding with them musically has been the greatest thing that’s ever happened to me.”