Corrosion Of Conformity

support Black Temple
author AP date 21/03/15 venue Beta, Copenhagen, DEN

Hailed by BETA’s booking guru Mikkel Wad Larsen as the greatest scoop in the venue’s history, Corrosion of Conformity’s headlining set sold out almost instantly when tickets were released for sale in January. Given it’s not such a long time ago that the band last graced these pastures with a concert (more or less exactly one year, actually) before a smallish crowd, this might have been surprising were it not for the fact that last year, they were rejoined by the legendary Pepper Keenan on vocals & guitar. Keenan of course had a sizable hand in crafting the most revered slice of Corrosion of Conformity’s repertoire, namely 1994’s “Deliverance”, 1996’s “Wiseblood”, 2000’s “America’s Volume Dealer”, and 2005’s “In the Arms of God”, before exiting the band to focus fully on his guitar duties in Down. Corrosion of Conformity never truly recovered, and as such, the opportunity to experience them in their golden composition will have been too good to pass on for many. The dozens of desperate cries for any unneeded tickets in the days leading up to the concert reveal as much. Not surprisingly, the anticipation in the air is tangible as the evening’s special guests, the Swedish Black Temple take to the stage and signal the initiation of these proceedings.

All photos courtesy of Henrik Moberg Jessen

Black Temple

You could be forgiven for the assumption that Black Temple play stoner or doom based on their moniker alone, let alone for their capacity as direct support to Corrosion of Conformity tonight. But in reality, their style is much more difficult to place, floating somewhere between dark, Swedish hardcore (the wave sort), noise rock, stoner, and in bits, even pop. What Black Temple haven’t quite mastered yet, however, is the construction of songs that immediately intrigue, and as such, I take little from the evening’s first track than except for a very cool solo by guitarist Marcus Witold Östensson. There is some semblance of a catchy hook in the song that follows, stemming primarily from bassist/vocalist Jonas Pedersen exchanging the basic yell utilised in the previous piece for a more melodious style of vocalisation. It all resembles Norwegian post-hardcore outfit Wolves Like Us, from the noisy, dissonant tone to the zero-fucks-given attitude with which the trio, completed by drummer Jesper Karlsson, performs; but although the evening’s fourth and second last track in this short set thrives on a solid groove and somewhat catchy chorus, Black Temple are still miles from a position where their music is readily recognisable, and loaded with lasting value. Applause must be offered to them though, for an enthusiastic performance during which none of the three musicians resort to still-standing postures. Whether it’s a bass guitar nearly hugging the crowd, a guitarist grooving in his own little world, or a drummer beating his skins with relentless abandon, Black Temple expend an admirable amount of energy during their 25-minute slot. Now they just need to work on their song-writing.

6

Corrosion Of Conformity

The place is bustling as a seemingly never-ending stream of grizzly looking stoner connoisseurs crowd pours into BETA’s concert room more than 20 minutes before the scheduled beginning of Corrosion of Conformity’s show. This bodes well if like me you’re of the opinion that stoner rock is best experienced in stifling conditions, pint of beer in each hand, with the performing artist right at your nostrils. And once the slow burning introduction “These Shrouded Temples…” flowers into the pounding groove of “Señor Limpio”, the audience is, at once, devouring it with extreme prejudice; all bodies moving, every head banging, and the chorus ”But I want to, I want to, I want to but my hands were always tied up. Yes, indeed!” resounding from the walls and the rafters as it’s sung back to Pepper Keenan in one of the best sing-alongs I’ve experienced at this venue.

With Keenan back at the helm, Corrosion of Conformity seem rejuvenated, instantly putting to shame their efforts at Loppen a year ago - and let’s face it, bassist Mike Dean (who handled lead vocals), guitarist Woodroe Weatherman & drummer Reed Mullin weren’t exactly disappointing that time, either. But with Keenan adding an extra guitar and his signature Southern swagger to the fray, both music and performance are swivelled onto another level of convincing. Indeed, as the Thin Lizzy track played off the stereo to walk the gentlemen onto the stage goes, the boys are back in town! Weatherman and especially Dean settle into an intoxicating, stoned dance, handling their instruments with passion and soul whilst Keenan center stage takes care of the brunt of vocal duties as well as addressing the audience in between songs, thanking us multiple times for supporting the band even though ”they’re still trying to figure things out” as far as the re-union goes.

“Seven Days” deservedly receives a crazed reaction from the crowd as does the magnificent “Albatross” a little later, with booming sing-songs, cries of ecstasy and rare displays of dedication very much the order of the night. The setlist consists primarily of material from Keenan's frontman-era, with just the intro “These Shrouded Temples…” and the encore-opening “Vote With a Bullet” snatched from outside (both off 1991’s “Blind”; and the latter was, in fact, sung by Keenan) and those hardcore/crossover influenced picks nowhere to be heard - much to my welcome at least. As such the concert is a standout riddled trip down the memory lane of some of the best stoner rock grooves ever written - with only a few hick-ups, and songs like “Wiseblood”, “My Grain” and “Goodbye Windows” all inciting a raucous atmosphere and Corrosion of Conformity visibly exuberant to be revisiting this stuff again. Indeed, as the classic “Clean My Wounds” at the far end of the encore lapses into a lengthy, spaced out psychedelic jam, you get the feeling that this is what Corrosion of Conformity are all about; this is what they love to play. It segues beautifully into a grand finale, with the evening concluding in another resounding sing-along even after the musicians have expressed their thanks and left the stage. A truly special evening; now they’ve just got to stay together and write an actual album in best “Deliverance” fashion, as clearly there’s much and more left in these guys to give.

Setlist:

  • 1. These Shrouded Temples…
  • 2. Señor Limpio
  • 3. King of the Rotten
  • 4. Heaven’s Not Overflowing
  • 5. Long Whip / Big America
  • 6. Wiseblood
  • 7. Seven Days
  • 8. Paranoid Opioid
  • 9. 13 Angels
  • 10. Albatross
  • 11. My Grain
  • 12. Stonebreaker
  • 13. Goodbye Windows
  • 14. Broken Man

—Encore—

  • 15. Vote With a Bullet
  • 16. Who’s Got the Fire
  • 17. Clean My Wounds

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