If Ronnie Van Zant had replaced Ozzy Osbourne in Black Sabbath sometime around 1974, the result probably would have sounded a lot like the latest disc from North Carolina's Corrosion of Conformity. In the Arms of God is a fierce, impressive comeback effort from these guys, and after five years away, it had better be. Surprisingly, Arms doesn't come stomping right out of the gate -- "Stone Breaker," the album's opener, cruises hazily in on a wave of organ and psychedelic guitar before the Southern thrash riffs begin to roar and crunch. Each of the album's 12 tracks is a forceful gut-punch, with plenty of bass in the mix to juice the already hip-swingin' grooves. COC has been mixing Southern rock with metal for a couple of decades, and it's mastered its particular sound at this point. Special attention must be paid to the swinging drums, courtesy of Galactic's Stanton Moore. Only Pepper Keenan's still-rudimentary vocals, which no amount of computer filtering can mask, are a drag. Five years between studio albums is too long for a band this powerful.
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