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As the alternative rock scene spread like a virus over popular music in the early 1990's, Corrosion of Conformity in themselves were also changing. Having put out the fantastic blending of once unassociated musical styles on "Blind" three years earlier, there is no doubt that some wondered where the band would go next. This was confounded even more so when Karl Agell retired from the vocal front in 1993, being replaced by relative newcomer Pepper Keenan. Naturally, both the sounds and creative direction of the band were destined to change as they most obviously did.
As much as I like Pepper Keenan and his various contributions to Corrosion of Conformity and Down (those being two bands I have always looked highly upon) I always wondered where this band would have ventured if Keenan hadn't taken over. The apparent greatness that would arise in 1996 out of the spectacular Southern metal helping in "Wiseblood" may have never been created. On the flip side, "Deliverance" may have come out quite different. When I first began exploring C.O.C., it was with this album first being that its the one this band is most celebrated for. I definitely had an appreciation for what was going on here at that time, and in some ways I still do. Yet after many years as a hardened fan of this group, experiencing all of their material from 1991 to recently, I have realized that "Deliverance" isn't an album worth chalking up. Yes, both "Clean My Wounds" and "Albatross" were relatively successful in the mid-90's, and both are even good songs to be radio hits. Yet even with that this album as a whole is massively overrated.
The biggest differences are the most obvious with the new vocalist and new creative direction. The Southern influence is more prevalent here than it was on "Blind," though that influence now comes more from the 90's sludge scene that it actually does from Molly Hatchet. The gritty guitar sound is decent enough, and helps emphasize the dirty Black Sabbath worship, which was big in the South at the time. In terms of vocal performance, Keenan usually belts out his usual reliable vocals in trademark fashion. The big issue here is he can't help himself but resort to some gimmicks here and there. The title track is a prime example of this, though it isn't even Keenan on the vocal front but actually Mike Dean. Regardless of who it is, that song is comical more than it is rocking, and that does not work to the band's favor. "Shake Like You" is another example, and were it not for the notable riffing going on there the song would be a complete throwaway.
Despite the gimmicks and filler that run rampant on this album, we do get a good share of passable material. "Heaven's Not Overflowing" is a good place to start, since its the opener and sets the tone for the entire listen. The song is both memorable and an example of how good the band can be when they set their mind to it, but its not a particularly great song. "Albatross" is better as is "Clean My Wounds" though I'd argue the former is certainly the best of the two radio singles for this release. Both "Broken Man" and "Senor Limpio" work well enough, definitely channeling in some straight-forward rock but the former gets a bit tedious as it goes on and the latter is downright silly. Neither are particularly bad, but like "Deliverance" itself, neither are essential.
The one song here, however, that I honestly say saves this entire listen is "Seven Days." Its one of the lesser known songs off the album, which is a shame because its certainly the best. One listen to the swirling guitars and Keenan's agitated vocals show a much different band than the one goofing off in this album's more silly moments. The song ends up being a definite highlight and definite must listen for fans of the band in general.
From all the negative press I gave "Deliverance," one might assume I didn't enjoy it. That isn't entirely true, though it sits towards the bottom of the totem pole in terms of C.O.C. quality releases. For all the praise this single album gets as the crowning achievement of this band, the majority of fans are led astray from the essential status of both "Blind" and "Wiseblood." Both of those albums are superior to this one in every way possible, as there are no gimmicks and no throwaway filler material, either. Yet "Deliverance" isn't the worst of C.O.C.'s catalog, which would belong to "America's Volume Dealer," but this album is sorely overrated. If all the media hacks who can't get over the success of "Clean My Wounds" would silence themselves and let the music speak, I'm very certain the majority of listeners would agree. However, any C.O.C. diehard is incomplete without it, as it does contain about six songs worth your time. Just don't get sucked into all the pretentious and misleading hype surrounding this, which might lead you to buy it brand new. Instead, seek it out at the bargain bin for about $7 or less.
If the album title wasn't a big enough give away, CoC's "Deliverance" had taken a rather abrupt turn into the world of infusing heavy metal with southern rock, whilst nothing too ground-breaking it is rather unusual considering the bands past. I won't blather on since I'm sure every one of you half-brained pillocks has some sort of knowledge and if not, go to the band page and save me time. "Deliverance" can be quite accurately described as CoC's awkward puberty from half-thrash of "Blind" into the 'southern metal' of "Wiseblood". There are some truly brilliant songs, some complete and utter cock-ups and the rest is neither here nor there. The whole southern rock motif manages to be in full force for the entire album making for some interesting riffs and some long solos, which is never a bad thing. One element that struck me as particularly wrong, on many levels, is the occasional attempt at borrowing the aesthetics from the previous album "Blind" and applying them to this album, such as in the song 'Senor Limpio' and results in a terrible groove metal sounding song that even Pantera would be ashamed to write, had they not written 'Walk' that is. Still despite these riffs a lot of the album does rather wander around not doing anything particularly noteworthy, essentially filling the void between the good parts in the album.
So what is good? 'Albatross', no doubt the majority of you out there would observe this and simply assume that due to the similarity in avian naming scheme that it should bare resemblance to Lynyrd Skynyrd's 'Freebird'. However it's not; it's shorter and is more of a mid-paced song rather than half-ballad/half-fuck your shit up solo madness. The chorus riff is nice, and the build up to the solo and the solo it itself are all fucking great. Pepper Keenan rocks the fuck out in the guitar and vocal departments, he sounds right at place in the music having a rough but 'southern' sounding voice that doesn't border on the obnoxiously terrible Texan accent. "Clean My Wounds" is a great little follow up song that packs a bit more punch with choppy riffing and more speed. "My Grain" is the best metal song on the album that still manages to incorporate southern rock elements without resulting in an abomination. Plus there's some great bass work just before the guitar solo, unfortunately it's buried somewhat in the mix which is a shame. In fact there's some nice bass work throughout the album in general, but nothing too showy.
The rest of the album is the dog's bollocks however and whether this is on part due to being unfamiliar with the integration of southern rock elements into metal or being lazy and half-assing the remaining songs is up for debate. Some of the songs have some worthy attributes that would be carried on into their next album "Wiseblood" and pulled off far more effectively but within "Deliverance" they make the songs unwieldy and shift the entire flow into the wrong direction. There's also the fact that they're mostly forgettable, 'Broken Man' has a nice chorus but the main riff is limp even for something of a ballad. 'Deliverance' is a quirky little number but lacks the decent guitar work to be great and is simply memorable because it's so odd and frankly redneck-ish. 'Shake like you' is another odd track, with some really irritating vox augmentation and simplistic, boring guitars. The filler tracks are so utterly forgettable I can't even remember how many there are, I remember there only being a couple at most and basically consisting of acoustic guitars but it's nothing interesting like Black Label Society's 'Speedball' for instance.
Overall this album is a rather large point of contention for Corrosion of Conformity, and when contrasting it with their hardcore/crossover roots it's like chasing a shot of tequila with a shot of vodka. But admittedly I like this album to some degree and prefer the direction they began to take with "Deliverance" as compared with the down-tuned blandness of "Blind". The biggest problem with "Deliverance" was simply not being able to utilise the aspects of southern rock effectively, and it resulted in an album that was incredibly inconsistent; 'Albatross' makes me rock out with my cock, much to the dismay of others but at least a third the songs don't even register on my awesome-o-meter, whilst the remainder put my shit-o-meter into over-fucking-drive.
Corrosion of Conformity has always been the kind of band that leaves one guessing. They've released everything from hardcore to alternative thrash over the course of their career, which can make some metalheads second guess themselves when it comes to shelling out the cash for the latest COC album.
Well you need not fear kiddies, because this is one album from the southern sludge masters that doesn't disappoint. 1996's Deliverance is the first LP where the band showcased their distinctive brand of metal, combining catchy sludge riffs with the expressive vocals of Pepper Keenan in a blend of musical perfection that is all too often overlooked. From first riff of the killer opener, “Heaven’s not Overflowing”, you know your in for a hell of an ass-whomping, one Keenan and crew are all to happy to deliver. I’m not sure exactly why Karl Agell left after Blind, but you won’t mind the switch as soon as Keenan’s vocal shrieks barrage your ears within the first minute of the album.
This is also the first album where Pepper Keenan truly flexed his songwriting muscle as well. The majority of the material here is written by Keenan in some form or the other, as attested to by the catchy distinctive riffs and vocal hooks. For a man who came into the band years after its inception, Keenan seems to have taken over quite smoothly. His flowing, emotive vocals and playing seem comfortable, if nothing else, with his new position as singer/songwriter and he radiates a feeling of mirth throughout the record, something that serves to make the listening experience even more enjoyable.
But let’s not exclude the rest of the band; for while Pepper is definitely the star of this particular show, he’s not alone in delivering this sonic goodness to your ears. Woody Weatherman’s guitar provides some excellent rhythm and leads and Mike Dean’s bass adds some necessary meat to this slice of southpaw fare, while Reed Mullin’s drum work fills out the auditory tapestry.
Not much needs to be said about the production other than the fact that it’s quite solid. Nothing is lost in the mix, and the instruments mesh together well. The guitars and vocals are at the forefront here though, what with the album’s emphasis on catchy, laid-back licks and singing.
Overall, what we have here is a solid slab of sludge (oh the alliteration!). While some tracks stand above others, the album flows together quite well, and is the first true representation of Corrosion’s distinctive sound. This one comes recommended.
Highlights: Heaven’s not Overflowing, Albatross, Clean my Wounds, Broken Man, Senor Limpio, Seven Days, Shelter
Deliverance came out at a time when Corrosion of Conformity was changing singers (and genres) with nearly every release. After the thrash/alterna-metal that was "Blind," COC switched to a more melodic brand of Southern Metal that was fairly unique for its time. Pepper Keenan is now the full-time vocalist as well as the main songwriter for the band.
They kick off the album with "Heaven's Not Overflowing," which features a helluva main riff, Keenan with his macho singing style, and two long solos. This song is an absolute killer and arguably the best song that COC has ever made. "Without Wings" is a beautiful instrumental with acoustic guitar being accompanied with a synthesizer which leads into "Broken Man." The riff is an absolute crusher and once again this song has a couple of cool solos in the middle.
Yet, other than those songs, this album is very disappointing. "Albatross" is ok, but never really takes off like it should while the title track is a yawn-inducing dud. "Heal My Wounds," arguably the most well-known song off of "Deliverance," is a perfact example of what is wrong with the album as a whole. The riffs are there, but they aren't memorable. The singing is there, but it lacks any sort of melody or harmonies to add anything to the song. To be fair, Keenan isn't the type of singer who does that in any of his songs, but Keenan sounds bored throughout the album, as opposed to "Heaven's Not Overflowing," which sounds like he's trying to reach out of the stereo and wring the listener's neck. The lead guitar isn't very technical or exciting; in addition it sounds terrible too, very flat and lifeless.
Pepper Keenan and company have found their niche, their own unique sound, but it seems like they're not really sure how to capitalize off of it yet. Thankfully a year later Keenan collaborated with Phil Anselmo and the rest of Down and things took a turn for the better.
After Corrosions first major label album entitled "Blind" there were a number of changes that had occured. Blind was much more of a Heavy Metal album than anything with great singing from Karl A., and songs that tended to be very memorable. COC gave Karl the boot (for whatever reason) and decided to give Pepper Keenan a try at vocals, and things turned out for the fucking best. If i'd have to describe Peppers vocals, i'd say he sounds like James Hetfield, from lets say the Black Album, except he has his own style tied in with it. COC is still one of the best bands in the world today, because they write some of the most rockin, influencial tunes (in my mind) than anyone else could muster from their hands. I believe this is their second best disc, mainly because Wiseblood is much more appealing, and abit more upbeat in some sences. This is the disc where COC decided to change their sound for the best, vocal wise and music wise. Deliverance owns my friends, and theres no buts about it. You can have a hell of alot of good times to this album, because it really is that happy and feel good, most of the time atleast. Shelter is a song thats more depressing because it is about one of their friends that they "used" to know. There are some weird tracks on here as well though "My Grain" is one of those tracks, and at times it gets a tad rediculous with the backup vocals. haha. Who would have thought Peppers voice would adapt to their newer style of music so well. Take a listen to vote with a bullet on Blind, his vocals were somewhat distorted and you couldn't really tell how good he was. This does have some faster rockers but most of the songs are mid-paced and slow to get the point across better, and have that foot tapping on the cement floor. Clean my Wounds (track 3) turned out to be one of Corrosions most popular tracks ever recorded. It starts with a palm muted guitar riff thats very catchy, with some great vocals from Pepper. The drumming on this album fits like a glove although there nothing to impressive, but either way it rocks, it doesnt have to be flashy to be good. The guitar solos are unique and are actually pretty fuckin good. The bass on here could be turned up abit, but its still noticeable. Released in 1994, Deliverance was widly except by metal/rock fans and turned into an instant classic for the ones who liked COC's brand of grade A Southern Rock. I highly suggest this album to anyone who likes Pantera, Down (Peppers in Down), or BLS.
Best Tracks: Heaven Not Overflowing, Albatross, Clean My Wounds, Broken Man, Senior Limpio (My fave), Seven Days, Shelter
"You can call me lazy but I know where I belong... I was born a liar, albatross fly on, fly on."
Corrosion of Conformity made a bold move when they ditched well received singer Karl Agell in favor of guitarist and riff master general Pepper Keenan.... Pepper's soulful, deeper voice is what makes Deliverance such an awesome listen. Throw in an old school southern rock sound and some great songwriting.. and you have a monolithic record.
Heaven's Not Overflowing opens the album with a fucking MONSTER riff... the fuzzed out, ball crushing kind of riff that makes you perk your ears and take notice. This is rock people. Follow that up with Albatross, an all out jamfest with another insane riff, and Clean My Wounds, arguably CoC's best track... Deliverance flat out fucking rules. The country and Allman brothers influence rears its head alot, especially on My Grain and Shelter... a guitar ballad along the lines of Johnny Cash.
Sabbath still is the predominant influence.... Seven Days gives a nod to Volume 4 with a killer tandem of riffs and one of Pepper's strongest vocal performances. The most metal song is probably Broken Man, which could of been on Blind...
If the laid back "stoner metal" of Down, Fu Manchu, Crowbar, or Kyuss appeals to you AT ALL, Deliverance belongs on your shelves alongside Welcome to Sky Valley and Sabbath Bloody Sabbath... too bad their other shit can barely touch this.