Corrosion of Conformity In the Arms of God

It took them five years, but the interminable COC have returned with a new album, another new drummer, and another revamped sound. In the Arms of God lacks the immediately memorable tunes that their last disc, Americas Volume Dealer, was made up of. Instead, this album finds the band going back to the land of the dirty jams, like the stuff on Deliverance that we can’t quite recall (you know, the second half). Of the 12 tunes here, many stretch out over the five-minute mark, although the band’s knack for writing catchy songs hasn’t totally dissolved, as the excellent opening cut "Stone Breaker” proves, once it finally kicks in. The real kicker here though is the ludicrously manic drumming of Stanton Moore; unfortunately only a temporary feature in the COC universe, Moore is a jazz drummer by trade, so here he infuses COC’s usual Sabbath-meets-punk sound with crazy fills and quick-handed tom-tom-foolery that sound like, well, jazz drumming. Although at points the disc is a bit too meandering and a few songs never get going, such as the kind of annoying "Paranoid Opioid,” but even that has the most genuine-sounding Sabbath homage ever recorded, and some wild drumming in the outro; even the stuff here that falls a bit short is still worth further investigation. Definitely somewhere between the band’s last and Deliverance, the disc perhaps lacks the punch of either but offers more, and without a doubt has all the qualities of an album that will only get better in time. (Sanctuary)