photo & text by nacrowe
i believe i first came across the DELIVERANCE (SONY, 1994) album by CORROSION OF CONFORMITY while in middle school in NIGERIA after being introduced to the band by a LEBANESE 9th grader. the dude was into PORNO FOR PYROS so i thought for sure this other band was a sure bet. and they were.
DELIVERANCE is an interesting album in that it splits the difference between the GARGANTUAN RIFFAGE and EXTREME DISSONANCE of SLUDGE METAL with the MELODIC LYRICISM and GUITAR WIZARDRY of classic 1970s SOUTHERN ROCK. during this phase in the group's career they very much sounded like a cross between THE ALLMAN BROTHERS and EYEHATEGOD. there is no better example than the single "ALBATROSS" whose mid-tempo groove is just about impossible to not nod back and forth to, and those lead lines. man, what a great song. same goes with "BROKEN MAN," "DELIVERANCE," "SEVEN DAYS" and "SENIOR LIMPIO" which both absolutely crush with a sense of unrelenting VENGEANCE and unadulterated WRATH while maintaining THIN LIZZY-inspired lead lines throughout.
i know for O.G. fans of CORROSION OF CONFORMITY, these 1990s albums represent a capitulation to the ALTERNATIVE ROCK scene of the time. their previous work in the 1980s was seen by many as being the very definition of HARDCORE PUNK ROCK. in retrospect i find it infinitely COMPELLING to think about the predicament of HARDCORE and THRASH METAL bands that felt a sense of being OUTMODED by a scene that had its roots in both scenes. if anything, the major bands of the ALTERNATIVE ROCK movement of the early 1990s felt a kinship with these bands. as a teenager coming across DELIVERANCE i just remember being blown away by how great the songs were as well as the technical musical DEXTERITY and just BRUTALITY of the riffage, not to mention PEPPER KEENAN's incredible voice (this being his vocal debut four albums in) even when he is singing at the upper limits of his range. where they place in the pantheon of sub-genres or great METAL bands, i dont know, but DELIVERANCE seemed to be a SUCCESSFUL EXPERIMENT on an ARTISTIC level in my view. which i believe is saying something given that their peers in METALLICA, SLAYER and countless HARDCORE bands ended up regretting most of their output during this period.
definitely check out DELIVERANCE if you are interested in UNCONVENTIONAL yet WELL-CONSTRUCTED METAL that is slightly on the EXPERIMENTAL side.
photo manipulation by nacrowe
the VICE subsidiary NOISEY which produces content on its YOUTUBE channel dedicated to largely underground aspects of global MUSICAL CULTURE did a deep dive a few years ago with their seven-part series NOLA: LIFE DEATH & HEAVY BLUES FROM THE BAYOU (NOISEY, 2014) into the origins and legacy of SLUDGE METAL and its LOUISIANA origins.
in essence this series investigated specifically that music of DOWN members and proud LOUISIANANS JIMMY BOWER (EYEHATEGOD), KIRK WINDSTEIN (CROWBAR), PEPPER KEENAN (CORROSION OF CONFORMITY), and PHIL ANSELMO (PANTERA, SUPERJOINT RITUAL) as well as members of ACID BATH and GOATWHORE among others. in essence these musicians were heavily influenced by their surroundings. rural living and laid back southern vocal affectations manifested in rhythm tempos that were decidedly relaxed and slower in cadence. this tempo shift is in direct opposition to the concurrent strains of THRASH METAL and DEATH METAL that took place in the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s. in case you find this a little jarring, its important to consider that JAZZ, another LOUSIANA contribution to the AMERICAN musical tradition, was rooted in the STORYVILLE red light district of NEW ORLEANS where musicians would shift their tempos to the rhythms of a brothel's occupants in lieu of securing a tip.
SLUDGE METAL is a thick, brutal METAL sub-genre which traces its roots to bands like THE MELVINS (from rural WASHINGTON state) and particular BLACK SABBATH (famously from the industrial wasteland of the MIDLANDS in ENGLAND), but it is hard to argue that it found a true home in LOUISIANA. again, interesting to see how landscape, location and even linguistics impact art and music. when you consider that SLUDGE METAL has influenced the likes of the even more extreme and sonically stretched-out explorations of modern DRONE METAL and POST METAL which revel in the nuances and textures of space and distortion, it is intriguing to consider what spices have been added to that gumbo. who knows where its all heading next which is pretty exciting.
in summation, this documentary is well-constructed and worthy of further investigation if you are so inclined.
artwork by nicholas crowe
check out the latest DEER GOD RADIO installment HERE where we play everything SLUDGE METAL & STONER ROCK related.
this includes such prime examples of thick metal goodness like HIGH ON FIRE, ELECTRIC WIZARD, ORANGE GOBLIN, THE MELVINS, RED FANG, FU MANCHU, BORIS, NEUROSIS, CROWBAR, KYLESA, DOWN, QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE, SLEEP, CORROSION OF CONFORMITY, TORCHE, EYEHATEGOD and THE SWORD among many others.
past episodes of DEER GOD RADIO as well as other MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC shows like MAKE HER SPACE, NOWHERE FAST, and THE SYNTHESIZER SHOW are available here at the DEER GOD website.