Southern stoner metal juggernauts Corrosion of Conformity wrapped up a long and winding 30 date North American tour in Music City with sludgy brothers in arms Crowbar, Maryland doom metal veterans The Obsessed, and Dallas based trio Mothership stopping by The Cowan to fire up an already atypically warm February evening.
Up first were brothers Kelley (guitars, vocals) and Kyle (bass, vocals) Juett with drummer Judge Smith, the heavy rock trio Mothership. To borrow words from their Facebook biography, “these guys have created a unique sound that satisfies like a steaming hot stew of UFO and Iron Maiden, blended with the southern swagger of Molly Hatchet and ZZ Top, paired with a deadly chalice of Black Sabbath.” Based on their heavy, trippy and groovy four song set, I couldn’t have worded it better. Remember the early 80’s cult classic cartoon movie “Heavy Metal?” Mothership could have easily supplied the entire soundtrack. Before wrapping up their quick set with “Angel of Death” (no, not that “Angel of Death”), Kelley let the crowd know that this tour was “one of the best, most dedicated die-hard rock n’ roll tours that we’ve ever been a part of and that I think you’re gonna see in 2019. And that’s a fuckin’ fact!” I gotta agree with him. If stoner, sludge, doom metal/rock is your bag, this tour package will be hard to top. Mothership have a few March dates listed on their Facebook site and are currently back in Dallas working on their fourth studio album. If they happen to roll into your town make sure you don’t miss the chance to Trip on the Ship!
Second band up on the last ten stops of this tour was The Obsessed, the Maryland doom metal band that’s been around in some capacity since the late 1970s. Led by lone founding member and front man Scott “Wino” Weinrich, The Obsessed took their place on stage and trudged through a riff barrage of nine songs pulling heavily from their third album ‘The Church Within,’ the exceptions being “The Way She Fly” off their self-titled debut album and “Sacred” off the 2017 album of the same name. Wino and the boys wrapped up their set with the neck breaker “Neatz Brigade,” which had the battle vest donning metal heads banging their heads in synchronized unity. The Obsessed hits the road again with ANTiSEEN in support of Eyehategod in late March for a handful of dates throughout the south. Check their social media pages for more info.
Rounding out support was sludge metal heavyweights and longtime COC friends, the almighty Crowbar. After a quick couple of minutes tuning up and getting their sound just right, the Riff Lord Kirk Windstein stepped to the mic, backed by the rumble of that signature low B chord, and proclaimed, “Glad to be back here in Nashville, TN! We’re Crowbar from New Orleans! I said we’re fuckin’ Crowbar from New Orleans . . . and we’re gonna kick your ass, let’s do this shit!” After launching into “All I Had (I Gave),” the pit finally loosened up a bit and showed some life. What followed next was an auditory onslaught of Orange amplified downtuned riffage and chuggerific breakdowns that shook the walls of the tightly packed venue. Crowbar pummeled the crowd with a short but satisfying eight song set that included “To Build a Mountain,” “Walk with Knowledge Wisely,” and of course fan favorite “Planets Collide.” Before ending with “Like Broken Glass,” Windstein took a moment to lead the crowd in applause for all the bands on the tour and then commented on how in his 28 years of touring it was difficult to come by the brotherhood he felt on this tour. Crowbar is heading overseas to the Graspop Metal Meeting in Dessel on June 21st then with Testament on June 22nd in Deville-les-rouen, France before heading to Australia in July. If you ever make it out to a Crowbar gig (and you should) make sure to hit up their merch table early and say hi to Kirk before the show.
After 13 years on the road and in the studio with his other band Down, Pepper Keenan reunited with Woody Weatherman, Mike Dean and Reed Mullin, otherwise known as the “classic” lineup of Corrosion of Conformity (COC), and released their tenth studio album ‘No Cross No Crown’ in January 2018. Following a very busy 2018 on the road which saw them hit the states and Canada, down to Latin America, and across the pond to Europe a couple of times, COC was back on the road in support of their 2018 release with longtime drum tech John Green behind the drum kit while Reed Mullin recovered from knee surgery.
As soon as “La Grange” by ZZ Top finished playing through the PA, the boys in COC took their spots on stage and wasted no time breaking right into “Stonebreaker” followed quickly by “Wiseblood” before finally digging into the new material with “Wolf Named Crow.” Pepper finally took a breath to address the crowd, “Thank you very much Nashville, so good to be back in Tennessee.” Those of us close to the stage could see the setlist and noticed “Dealer’s Choice” was next. Dealer’s choice turned out to be the band’s chance to solicit requests from the crowd. “You want a deep cut or something you know?” After some volleying back and forth, the band launched into the fast paced “My Grain” which woke the pit up again and got the crowd movin’. They continued to light a fire under the crowd with “The Door,” “Diablo Blvd.” and “It Is That Way” (another dealer’s choice) before Pepper said, “So, we wrote this next song a long time ago and it kinda comes in handy about every four years and it’s feelin’ kinda handy right now. Anywho, this song’s called “Vote with a Bullet.” Sing a long if you know it.” They kept the heavy rollin’ with “Seven Days” and “Paranoid Opioid” before slowing it down with “13 Angels.” Right after inviting everyone down to New Orleans for Mardi Gras (COC and Crowbar played a one off show down there a couple days after this tour), they wrapped up with “Who’s Got the Fire” and “Albatross” before returning to the stage to obviously encore with “Clean My Wounds.”
Despite being around for over 35 years, going through some early lineup changes before Pepper took over on lead vocals, and touring relentlessly in between, Corrosion of Conformity are as tight and as funky and as entertaining as ever. With Mike Dean’s hand galloping up and down the neck of that four sting bass, Woody and Pepper’s dirty downtuned dueling guitars and Reed Mullin or John Green holding down the beat behind the kit, COC prove they are still one of the best stoner rock bands still out on the road and they’re still having fun doing it. Let’s hope they don’t wait another 13 years before the classic lineup puts out new music. COC are set to play Rocklahoma on May 24th followed by the Azkena Rockfest in Spain and the Bologna Sonic Park in Italy in June.