One of the first punk-metal fusion bands, Corrosion of Conformity were formed in North Carolina by guitarist Woody Weatherman during the early ’80s. In their early years, C.O.C. became known for their aggressive sound, intelligent political lyrics, and willingness to break away from both hardcore and metal conventions. In the ’90s, their shift to a more stripped-down, deliberate sound — sort of Black Sabbathfiltered through the Deep South — brought them enough in line with the alt-metal Zeitgeist to bring them a measure of mainstream popularity.
C.O.C. debuted in 1983 with the thrashy, Black Flag-influenced Eye for an Eye, featuring a lineup of Weatherman, drummer Reed Mullin, vocalist Eric Eycke, and bassist Mike Dean. They began to build up a cult following with 1985’s Animosity, but their label at the time, Death, grew tired of their internal instability — lineup changes found Eyckereplaced by vocalist Simon Bob — and dropped them following 1987’s Technocracy. It took several years for a new lineup to come together — featuring Weatherman, guitarist Pepper Keenan, Mullin, vocalist Karl Agell, and bassist Phil Swisher — but when it did, the result was 1991’s Blind, a powerful, focused, more metallic record that increased their audience by leaps and bounds. Agell was fired following its success, and he and Swisher went on to form Leadfoot; meanwhile, Keenanbecame the full-time lead vocalist on 1994’s even more Sabbath-esque Deliverance, which also featured the return of original bassist Mike Dean. During 1995, Keenan took a short detour into the Southern metal supergroup Down (which also featured Pantera‘s Phil Anselmo and members of Crowbar).