“Who’s Got the Fire?”… CoC Does!!! Just as iconic music producer John Custer told us in an exclusive interview last year… “Pepper Keenan would be back with Corrosion of Conformity (CoC) in 2015”… it has finally come to fruition with an announcement from the band earlier this year. They have been on tour with Clutch and Mastodon, but only as a supporting act, and a headlining European stint just to get their chops back as to not disappoint the hoards of CoC fanatics with any type of sub-par performance… as if that would be remotely possible. After disembarking from the MotorBoat cruise with Lemmy and Motorhead, the band pounced on a headlining US tour of their own. The CoC army have been longing for this reunion and not only do we get to hear the mighty tunes of yesterday we will get some brand spankin’ new material next year with Pep on vocals… the stars are finally aligning, as I too have been eagerly awaiting the return of this unstoppable four piece. Most of their fans like the three piece too, as I do… but, the rendition with Pepper Kennan on the mic and guitar is certainly my favorite. Pep has not performed with CoC for ten years and with the earlier passing of the 25th anniversary of the “Deliverance” album release the timing is impeccable. This was the era where I was introduced to the band. My first exposure was a live show at the legendary Mad Monk in Wilmington, NC… I had no idea who the band was that I was going to see. After grabbing “Deliverance” at the merch table, I retreated to explore their rather abbreviated catalog, at that time, and the years prior to Pep’s tenure was my “christening” to the punk/metal/thrash crossover sub-genre their works showcase and are credited with pioneering. Now with Pepper Keenan, Woody Weatherman, Mike Dean and Reed Mullin back together, I couldn’t wait to hear the monster jams I truly admire. The Deliverance Revival Tour has been a highly successful event so far with sold-out shows and packed venues across the country and on Thursday evening, December 10th, the rejuvenated and more focused than ever legendary rockers finally end their inaugural reunion tour by blessing us with a performance at the Lincoln Theatre in Raleigh, NC… the city where it all began back in 1982.
The evening was set ablaze when the Dallas, Texas psychedelic rockin’ trio of Mothership touched down onstage with a scorching set of tunes. The Juell brothers, Kyle on bass and lead vocals and Kelley on guitar and backing vocals, channel an impressive 70’s vibe from the start and never let up. With Judge Smith on the kit, this solid southern trio proved why they were chosen to open the tour. Their energy and volume was top notch as they blasted off with the tunes “City Nights”, “Shanghai Surprise” and “Win or Lose” with a little Led Zeppelin “Heartbreaker” riffage from Kelley’s Flying V Gibson six string. The Zeppelin, Deep Purple, UFO and Sabbath influences are heavily present throughout their jams. Go check ’em out at www.mothershiphaslanded.com . What an unexpected treat Mothership was…that’s what happens if you show up early to a show folks. Next up was yet another unexpected treat of tastiness… the Oakland, CA based metal group Saviours. Austin Barber’s vocal style and screaming Gibson Flying V guitar (seems to be the guitar of choice so far) dueled all night with Sonny Reinhardt’s Les Paul axe and treated everyone to an early headbanging set. The thundering backbone of Andy Anderson on the 4-string and Scott Batiste beating the skins held this sweet symphony all together. Their set was hard, fast and loud and showcased the heavily grooved and distorted solos track “Cavern of Mind” and the bombastically addictive tune “Narcotic Sea” from the 2008 album “Into Abaddon” (Kemando Records). With a few tunes from all their albums and the crushing title track “Crucfier” (Level Plane Records) from their January 2015 offering was on point… even some brand new tunes from their October 2015 release “Palace of Vision” (Listenable Records) were blended into the set and performed with precision. Check these dudes out at www.facebook.com/Saviours … they have a few shows left to play this year and then they are off on a European Tour. Brant Bjork and the Low Desert Punk Band had the spot on the bill right before the headliner, so they had to bring it…and they did indeed. Straight outta Palm Desert, CA, these guys were the perfect accompaniment to the CoC sound and the massive crowd seemed to agree. Back in 1987, Bjork laid the foundation for the beginnings of the west coast stoner punk legends Kyuss with Josh Homme and John Garcia. He started a few record labels and later joined the band Fu Manchu and Vista Chino… but this show was all about his solo works with the Low Desert Punk band backing him up with Bubba Dupree on guitar, Dave Dinsmore on bass and Ryan Gut on the drums. His set was showcased with the tunes “Too Many Chiefs… Not Enough Indians”, “Controller Destroyed”, “Born to Rock” and “The Good Life”… all with a spliff inspired cosmic groove that has become his trademark over the years. Check him out at www.brantbjork.com
The time has finally come for what everyone has been waiting years to see. Its been roughly ten years since Pepper Keenan has performed with CoC, with the exception of a few live tunes on the road whenever their paths have crossed… but, its been fifteen years since the Deliverance Era of CoC has played together. With Pepper Keenan on guitar and vocals, Woody Weatherman on guitar, Mike Dean on bass and Reed Mullin pounding the cans… the greatest incarnation of all the CoC lineups. Pep hasn’t stopped being a part of the almighty DOWN with Phil Anselmo… he, and the rest of the band, has determined it was time to reunite and the CoC fans anxiously awaited their return to Raleigh, NC to end their US headlining reunion tour. The band mates slowly assembled onstage and blasted into the instrumental gem, “These Shrouded Temples”, from the 1991 album “Blind” (Relativity Records) and slammed right into “Broken Man” from the 1994 release “Deliverance” (Columbia Records) without hesitation and a nice run of the iconic album’s hits… and so begins the flashbacks, haha. As Pep was thanking everyone for coming out, Woody began the unmistakable riff of “Senor Limpio” and the standing room only crowd went nuts. CoC didn’t slow down at all, with a blistering rendition of “Heaven’s Not Overflowing” before throwing in “Long Whip, Big America” and “Wiseblood”from the 1996 album “Wiseblood” (Columbia Records). Next, it was back to the “Deliverance” album with the tunes “Seven Days” and then an unexpected tune “Paranoid Opioid” from the 2005 album “In the Arms of God”(Sanctuary Records) originally recorded when Reed Mullin was on hiatus and the drumming duties were done by Stanton Moore in the studio… so this was the first time ever to hear Reed perform this track live with his brothers. Next on cue was “13 Angels”, the first track performed from the album “America’s Volume Dealer”(Sanctuary Records) and last album for Reed until 2009. The tenth tune of the set went back to the “Deliverance” album with my favorite track of all, “Albatross”… performed with sheer perfection. Then it was back to the “In the Arms of God” album with the hard-as-hell track “Stonebreaker” then it was “Who’s Got the Fire” from “America’s Volume Dealer”… one of the most under-rated works from the CoC compendium, its loaded with some serious monster jams. Way back to the “Blind” album again, they scorched the raucous tune “Vote With a Bullet”. This was the first song Pep sang lead on for the band and has become a mainstay in every Pep fronted CoC show and the evening would not be complete until they performed the extended version of “Clean My Wounds” which lasted over eight minutes. The band mates were having the best time together and it was clearly evident to the crowd who sang right along with Pep the entire set… including me. These guys may have aged a bit, but it was irrelevant as they commanded the stage from start to finish of an approximately, 80 minute set… without a break to catch their breath and every tune was tight as it could be. What a magnificent show it was and I’m certain nobody left the venue disappointed. The entire loaded bill has heavy, stoney, doomy and CoC made it miraculous… as I wasn’t sure if I would ever see this group of guys together onstage again. On top of it all, we will be getting a new album next year and probably another tour… I can hardly wait. As with all their previous albums, John Custer will be producing the new one too. When Custer and the boys get together… magic always happens… ALWAYS. Go check ’em out at www.coc.com … but, if you are like me, you need no direction to their website or any of their history.
Review and Photos by Rob Grissom for 3dotmag.com