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5 years had passed since Woody and Reed decided to form their punk rock band COC, which had suffered some line-up changes by then. Simon Bob was the chosen one to take the vocal duties for the first EP of their career, “Technocracy”. However, after all that time, these guys sound didn’t change much. Their metallic punkish hardcore style is quite the same, you won’t find any particular modification of their simple formulas here. They got stuck on purpose while other big hardcore acts of the early 80’s became more ambitious and thrashy. We got “Join The Army” by Suicidal Tendencies, or the classic “Crossover” from DRI showing a remarkable progression from what those 2 groups used to do. COC prefered to keep playing something in the style of their admired Black Flag and Discharge, instead.
Speed, simplicity and rage, that’s what these 6 cuts are all about. Fierce hardcore performed so direct and intense, plenty of attitude and aggression. Still easy, primitive and noisy, their music features that raw energy of the previous releases unadulterated. This time, it sounds slightly more advanced at times and cleaner. Certain unpredictable arrangements have been added on songs like “Happily Ever After” specially, with the band playing something alternative to the uniform straight guitar lines. They even introduce a couple of different structures and radical riff variations, with Woody emulating Iommi, with some weighty low riffs for a second, then bringing back the velocity and brutality all of a sudden. Rhythm changes aren’t numerous, though, you can find here much more humble numbers like this second version of “Hungry Child” and the 30 seconds dumb “Ahh Blugh (Milking the Sick Farce)”. Simplicity is the rule, after all this is hardcore, it’s not the instrumental difficulty what will take your attention on “Technocracy” or “Crawling”, it’s the power and passion of these guys what makes a difference. Although COC don’t play it that mediocre and incompetent; Mullin is out of tempo a couple of times and Bob’s vocals are far from accurate, but when they make it frantic and loose, the resulting bunch of noise sounds quite convincing. Sometimes they might even remind you of early Voivod, with an obvious big difference of skills, but it’s clear their abilities are a bit better than the chaotic display of the 1984 “Eye For An Eye” debut. You can notice that little improvement, if you compare this version of the outrageous “Intervention”, for instance, with the scruffy one of the previous release, “Animosity”. So, in conclusion, an EP that didn’t make history or impressed anybody, but it certainly had some amusing moments, the kind of stuff that will excite fans of Lunachicks, Warzone or The Functional Idiots. Their instrumental level was completely limited, the song arrangements poor, but their sonic violence and fury remarkable.
The line-up changes didn’t really affect the band’s sound notably, although new singer Simon Bob’s voice is way more vulgar and generic than Mike Dean’s. I guess that’s why it fits these compositions so well, there’s no need for sophistication and melody here. As I mentioned before, the scandalous simplicity of guitar lines was inevitable, but Woody brings back some of the inspiration from classic metal groups he already used on old tracks like “Rednekkk” to make his parts sound a little versatile this time. Expect no virtuosism on other hand, I think there’s just one solo in the whole EP (or something disastrous that sounds like some pickin’) which is totally forgettable and lame. The concept of these tunes doesn’t allow much opportunities to develop some instrumental passages at all. No problem for COC, whose intentions back then were concentrated on reflecting their inner energy and attitude musically only. The general short length of the EP keeps this material from pretentious, making clear speed and straight cuts are what came from these guys naturally, aware of their limitations. They are honest, angry and able to offer something enjoyable and influential. Along with Suicidal and DRI, there’s no doubt about it, they were one of the essential early 80’s hardcore bands that contributed to make thrash become what it was. They were even sharing stage with Anthrax or Slayer in the good old times, satisfying the hyperactive thrash audiences effectively. They didn’t have a charismatic front-man like Mike Muir, a guitar virtuoso like Rocky George or an inspired lyricist like Kurt Brecht, but COC had a lot of musical bestiality, something interesting to say in their words and that unique punkish attitude back then. Good pupils of old American punk, the influence of Dead Kennedys, early Plasmatics, Misfits and Minor Threat is evident.
Absolutely underrated work that I wish people would pay more attention on. Unfortunately, we all know what happened after: in one of the most shocking surprising metamorphosis ever, COC turned into what Pepper Keenan described once as “a rock band, true, honest, American. An American rock band” that sounded rather melodic, unfocused and tedious to me. Becoming almost a stoner rock group, getting closer to what Soundgarden, Kyuss or Superjoint Ritual and co. did, moving away totally from their old crossover. Then came their nomination for the Grammys, their tours with Metallica, Pantera, Machine Head and Fu Manchu, their record deal with Sony, the albums with John Custer…but that’s another part of the story.
For a simple EP, Corrosion Of Conformity's "Technocracy" is finally the first sight of seeing the band come into their own. While before C.O.C. made a great effort to make themselves stick out in the already over-growing, over-populated hardcore punk scene filled with Black Flag and Minor Threat clones, and not only being part of the first original wave of hardcore punk along with the other two mentioned, C.O.C. were at least a step ahead of the game when it came to actually progressing. The musical leaps made from "Eye For An Eye" to their second album "Animosity" proved a more mature sound for the band in helping them gain a bigger audience in the metal scene at a time when hardcore punk bands started incorporating influences and touring with bands such as Exodus, Slayer, and the likes which is what made "Animosity" one of the first and best authentic crossover albums of all time next to albums from other Cryptic Slaughter, Hirax, Attitude Adjustment, and Suicidal Tendencies.
The first thing that sticks out the most and best is the sound production. This is where the band's weakest spot was during the 80's. Not that one should expect anything gold, but compared to their first two albums "Technocracy" has a much more warmer sound. Oh it still has the punkified angst and D.I.Y. atmosphere from their first two, but the sound production gives the musicians and their instruments a bit of a room to breath. Also here is where we start seeing C.O.C's core members guitarist Woody Weatherman, bassist Mike Dean and drummer Reed Mullens start getting more comfortable and more adjusted to playing music at a more faster pace and technical level. "Animosity", even though a classic to this very day, sounded like the band was running around trying to get the riffs down first and foremost. Scurrying about in trying to get to the level where they are not as tension-filled and are able to catch a breath between tempo changes. All of this is noticed due to the fact of the addition to a singer known as Simon Bob Sinister which in reality sounds like a Jeff Spicoli version of Mike Dean. Not saying he's bad, but for a once hardcore punk band from the south, their lead singer just brings back the classic scene where Jeff completely baked and slapping his skull with a new pair of Vans skateboard shoes. "Yo dude!!!" indeed.
"Technocracy" starts off with the classic title track that is still very much in their last album. In fact I would cut this part short in saying the new songs are still "Animosity"-era and sounds like leftovers but in a good way. Not really a bad song or anything too overly amazing except with the beginning of the song "Intervention" one of four songs that was put on "Technocracy" when it was re-released in 1992. The beginning is a riff that I can't tell if it's a riff or Mike Dean doing some really fast techy shit that would make Heathen raise their eyebrows, Mixed in with some heavy Sabbath breakdowns before going back into total maniacal speed. Oh and the re-recorded versions are just as good, if not better with Mike fuckin' Dean sounding like he's about to stick a knife in your back.
"Technocracy" is the second to last step into what C.O.C. would progress and play in the 90's starting with the thrash/doom overlord album "Blind" and then finally settling on their Lynyard Skynard take on Black Sabbath. For an E.P. that I got for only $5, it's damn good.