Five years since Corrosion of Conformity’s last studio album, 2000’s stripped down sounding “America’s Volume Dealer”, C.O.C. have returned with a vengeance with “In the Arms of God”. Original drummer Reed Mullin is gone, with Galactic’s Stanton Moore filling in to great effect. Opening track “Stone Breaker” finds Pepper Keenan and co. seemingly trying to recapture the sludgy, southern influenced hard rock that made “Deliverance” and “Wiseblood” modern day classics, and while not every C.O.C. fan will agree, it works. “It is That Way” is well orchestrated with Woody Weatherman and Mike Dean supplying a solid rhythm section, and Pepper’s voice hasn’t sounded this good in years. “Never Turns to More”, “So Much Left Behind”, and “Crown of Thorns” are songs that make most of “America’s Volume Dealer” sound lame by comparison, and the album as a whole is the best material C.O.C. has recorded since “Wiseblood” almost ten years ago. Fans who have been longing for a return to form of C.O.C.’s pre-Pepper days will be disappointed here, but for the rest of us, “In the Arms of God” may very well be the best hard rock release of the year.