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Laid back afternoon songs - 72%

gasmask_colostomy, May 28th, 2015

There's really no way to pin Corrosion of Conformity down. First, there's that name, with its seemingly overt message that on closer inspection turns out to be about nothing in particular, and maybe was chosen simply to allow the band to write CoC on everything. Then there's the sound, that shifted from an aggressive primitive hardcore punk and crossover thrash style towards the slow-moving treacle of sludge metal and seems to have never settled at either end of that spectrum. The preceding album 'Wiseblood' contained elements of all those styles and more, with several songs that could have slotted nicely onto Crowbar albums and a couple that would have pleased Metallica a whole lot in 1996, while a scattering of odd parts remained that still sound weird and brilliant - aggressive doom with blues jamming, and so on. 'America's Volume Dealer' (slightly dodgy name aside) is a different kind of album entirely, though that really comes as no surprise. The band sound much more relaxed than before, with almost no thrash influence: the general feeling is one of southern rock and metal mixed with a sludgy rhythm guitar tone, while a few songs here play like country rock numbers, especially 'Stare Too Long', which includes piano and slide guitar in its lazy mid-afternoon drift.

What really confuses me is that 'America's Volume Dealer' was written and performed by the same four musicians that made 'Wiseblood' such a distinctive experience, who seem to have altered their preferences a hell of a long way in four years. This album has come under a torrent of criticism for various reasons: sounding unfocused and groovy; having poor songs; even sounding like Metallica's 90s albums. I can see the reason for making those criticisms, and they are all partly founded in truth, but I would like to point out the advantages of this kind of album. No, there isn't a lot of focus here as the sound is quite loose and deliberately jam-oriented, with plenty of boisterous grooves that swell and dip like a car mounting the summit of a hill in the countryside, or waves breaking onto the coast. That looseness is great and gives the album two important features - a sense of spontaneity and a chilled out vibe. I never listen to this when I'm in a hurry or I have work to do, but maybe on a warm Sunday afternoon when I can have a cold drink and nod my head and sing along without getting too serious. In that respect, having diverse songs that don't push the foot to the floor or go too much for heaviness is preferable, as it is also allowable to have a few dips in quality. This isn't supposed to be a perfect album, just an enjoyable one.

Of course, I still expect to hear good music, whatever my mood when I listen to it. This album doesn't have a full hand of well-written tunes, though there are cool moments in each song as well as several straight-up highlights. The opener 'Over Me' is great right from the moment it breaks into its lurching main riff and cool counterpart melody. That and the following 'Congratulations Song' are maybe the sludgiest things here, while 'Diablo Blvd' and 'Gittin' It On' do a whole different kind of heavy with shit-kicking drums and big grooves that make full use of a deep and wide guitar tone that makes your stomach drop out like sudden vertigo. There are three ballads, which I would usually find excessive, though they suit the balance of the album well and are actually some of the best-written numbers. The aforementioned 'Stare Too Long' is an atmospheric reverie and 'Sleeping Martyr' is a beautiful and brooding story that benefits from the impact of another sludgy southern riff in its latter half, though '13 Angels' is just a little too straight-faced and emotional for the general mood. The biggest surprises are the short structure and wild jamming of 'Who's Got the Fire' and the energetic 'Take What You Want' that has a great pace to it and several sections that flow wonderfully into each other.

The band don't deliver to the utmost of their ability yet, again, this could be down to the nature of the album. There is less creativity on display here than on 'Wiseblood' and the riffs deliver both fewer knockouts and fewer surprises. I still rate the soloing highly, even if that rabid bite and snarl is gone from Woody Weatherman's tone: here, he opts to colour songs and set moods rather than shredding or peeling off lick after lick to trade off Pepper Keenan's guitar. That is maybe the thing that I really do miss, with only a couple of exciting, pulse-quickening tracks, but the balance is restored by a good vocal performance from Keenan, which includes some thoughtful lyrics, and a more pronounced bass presence, lurking under the slower songs and booming through on the more upbeat numbers. I must say that the production of the drums doesn't entirely suit my tastes. They sound quite rockish and a little soft, although actually not a million miles from what they were like on 'Wiseblood', especially when you hear the snare pummelling on 'Diablo Blvd' and compare it to 'The Snake Has No Head'.

I'm not going to come down harshly on 'America's Volume Dealer', because I find it a very enjoyable album to soak in, despite a few mediocre songs. The mixed styles keep things interesting, yet sometimes cause a bit of confusion, such as on the last two songs proper. The bonus tracks are also worth a mention: 'Steady Roller' is not bad, but the cover 'Rather See You Dead' is a vicious blast of hardcore energy that includes the dirtiest guitar tone of the band's career and a hilarious ending - having screamed "Die...motherfucker" for the last time, there's a squeal of feedback, a clatter of instruments, and then a very audible mutter of "platinum". Tongue in cheek? I think so. A fitting end? Works for me, anyway.

Southern rock falls on its ass - 55%

JamesIII, January 15th, 2010

I have been a very big fan of Corrosion of Conformity for quite some time now, ever since I picked up the album "Deliverance" many years ago. When I began getting their other albums, particularly "Blind" and "Wiseblood," I completely loved what I heard. Then came this, "America's Volume Dealer" and I was floored, and not in a good way. The incomprehensive difference between the powerful "Wiseblood" and lackluster "AVD" is quite obvious though the evolution of the band is actually pretty simple.

While "Wiseblood" saw C.O.C. moves towards the Black Sabbath altar of Southern metal, where a good portion of those bands lie, "AVD" sees them leave that for more accessible waters. A somewhat heavier, less memorable version of Lynyrd Skynyrd comes to mind, particularly considering the song "Stare Too Long." To be fair, this chopping off the "metal" of Southern metal and gluing on "rock" to make Southern rock is not a reason to hate this album. Instead, the primary reason for to dislike or even hate this album comes the blatant lack of quality material. Nothing here gives me the same excitement "Wiseblood" did, and by the time this album ended I had no desire to replay it. This is rather extreme, as I have never experienced that before concerning the band in question.

So where does "AVD" go wrong? Well, apparently after "Wiseblood" failed to be a best-seller, the boys decided to take a nod from Metallica. After all, they had toured with Metallica, watched that band piss away their credibility for commericial success and decided to follow suit. I don't know if that is exactly how it went, but it definitely sounds like it no matter how you approach this accessible album. This is basically an album that will not terrify your neighbors when played at high volumes, but instead cause them to smile and sing a-long. Shame, Corrosion of Conformity, shame.

The production here is nice, but that's hardly a compliment. "Wiseblood" was also good in the sound quality department, but it was an excellent album. Instead, the crisp sounds here almost act as a barrier to catch all aggression, if any were actually present. This is apparent from the get go on "Over Me" and while it is indeed a good song, I miss the punch that the guitars used to have. Pepper's vocals are too processed for me, I enjoyed his more personal approach from previous albums. "Congratulations Song" is an even worse offender, not to mention being largely forgettable. "Stare Too Long" is ironically one I enjoy, which dives further into the Southern rock world this album teeters on. "Diablo Blvd." is more forgettable rockin' while "Doublewide" passes the test to become one of the better tunes here, including its halfway memorable guitar riff. "Zippo" is an attempt to kick up the Southern rock attitude another level, but fails completely and is not only mostly forgettable but also annoying at times.

The second half of this album is no sanctuary from the first. "Who's Got the Fire" is more throwaway material, alongside "Gettin' It On," and "Take What You Want." The remaining "Sleeping Martyr" and "13 Angels" are keepers. Of these two, I pick "Sleeping Martyr" as the best song here. Its quite unique in that it shows C.O.C. being their best when they are more reserved, saving the more rocking moments for the chorus. This grungy sort of soft-verse, large-chorus is right decent on this song, and certainly rises above the rest of this polished, lackluster album.

Every band is entitled to one flop of an album and for C.O.C. this is it. The fact that they survived the 1990's very well and Pepper Keenan became a member of hardened supergroup Down only begs to know why "AVD" happened. Was it the longing for commericial success or the poisoning of his mind by touring with Metallica? Given how "In the Arms of God" played out five years later, I'd say a bit of both. C.O.C. seem to distance themselves from this album as time has moved on, cutting a number of them from their live sets. This is all for the better, as it is a terrible representative of what this band can offer. Any newcomer to the C.O.C. camp are encouraged to look elsewhere, perhaps "Blind" or "Wiseblood," the two best albums this band can offer you. Save this album for last, or not at all, if you can find the songs "Sleeping Martyr," "Over Me," and "Doublewide" on your own. Let the rest simply fade away from memory which is the exact fate it deserves.

Ladies and Gentlemen: The Big 4… - 25%

Warpig, April 19th, 2005

…disappointments in the history of Metal: Reload (Metallica), Risk (Megadeth), Dissident Alliance (Jag Panzer) and “America’s Volume Dealer” by C.O.C. That means that, for me, this is one of the shittiest albums by a formerly/usually great band.

The album starts off pretty well with “Over Me”, a catchy tune and the second-best song on the album. Sadly, it goes downhill fast from there. “Congratulations Song” isn’t good at all, but at least has a half-decent chorus, which is far more than you can say about the next five songs.

“Stare Too Long” is so boring, it makes you want to listen to “Mama Said”. “Diablo Blvd.” is probably the worst C.O.C. song ever, and someone should be seriously punished for the bass-line. “Doublewide” is actually listenable, but still is a really bad song and would have been the low point on any other C.O.C. album. It is followed by “Zippo” (is that supposed to be funky?) and “Who's Got The Fire”, perhaps the second-worst C.O.C. song ever.

“Sleeping Martyr” is my favourite track on the album. Although it’s not particularly heavy, the dynamics work really well and it has a strong and catchy chorus. “Take What You Want” is another “funky” song and as forgettable as the previous ones. Next up is ”13 Angels” and although I can imagine that most of you will find this song really boring, I have always liked it. What I wrote about “Sleeping Martyr” (dynamics, chorus) applies, to a lesser degree, to this song too. The last song “Gittin' It On” has really strong verses, but the chorus ruins it completely.

The bonus tracks on the European edition, “Rather See You Dead” and the AC/DC-styled demo song “Steady Roller” are certainly nothing special, but still are among the highlights on this release, which speaks for itself, I guess.

This is definitely a really bad album, but what makes it even worse is the production. If you’re going for a dry production, you really should have strong material (like Iron Maiden’s “Brave New World”), otherwise the weaknesses are even more striking, and sadly, there are a lot of them here.

NO this is not Load or Reload...this is COC! - 90%

Demon_of_the_Fall, September 25th, 2003

America's volume dealer released in 2000 was COC's first album in 4 years since their mighty Wiseblood album. So I DID expect some changes to be had, although i wasn't quite sure what direction they would be heading in. AVD ends up being many different types of music and variety's and thats why i think some people don't like this. This cd has many different elements in it, because a song or two is indeed soft (see Stare to Long which is a nice number) and some are very rockish. People just never seem to give this album a fair chance mainly because it's not METAL enough for the population. This is still the COC that made Deliverance and Wiseblood, because there a few tracks thats are reminisant of that period in their career. Over Me, and Congratulations Song especially are very catchy and are instant classics from start to finish. Peppers vocal's keep getting stronger and stronger with every release and this is no exception as the vocals really shine on this motherfucker. I don't find anything commercial on this album although it has been tagged that, i dont believe that it is. They just write what comes out and so what if they have a soft song...Remember guys they had one on Deliverance as well titled"shelter". I've loved this album since i first heard it when it came out. The musicianship is superb, and the production is top notch indeed. This is a fun loving cd that is easy to get into, cruisin music, drinking music, fucking music, this pretty much suits all your needs just like every other album by COC. They are still one of the best bands out there, and the best at doing their brand of rock/metal. Some point this album as being comparable to Load or Re-load by metallica, mainly because of Peppers vocal stylings on here and they both toured together for awhile. They still have their own unique crazy style thats groovy as hell. Overall AVD is an extremely outrageous trip that is memorable enough to remember every lyric. Any fan of COC should love this, don't bother fucking lieing to yourself.

Cheers COC

Best Tracks: Over Me, Congratulations Song, Stare to Long, Diablo Blvd., Zippo, Who's Got the Fire, 13 Angels, Sleeping Martyr

Southern rawk... - 70%

Snxke, May 31st, 2003

Like Metallica on "Load" and "Reload" it seems that COC have developed a taste for Southern rock. I can't fairly compare this to to "Load/Reload" combo fairly and do it any form of justice. The swagger and stomp of these tracks is undeniable and the vocals sound more like Ronnie Van Zant than they do James Hetfield. (Not that Warren Haynes also steps in for the some geust slide guitar!)

This release is much better than "Load/Reload" in it's focus. Some songs like "Over Me" and "Sleeping Martyr" sure seem to stomp along towards an identity that Metallica fans wouldn't even recognize had the bands not toured together.

This is NOT the life changing release for this band by any means. It IS a fun record and deserves better treatment than it's gotten though.