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Righteous Fool - s/t (Ripple Music)

27 June 2022

The brainchild of the late drummer and Corrosion of Conformity co-founder Reed Mullin and HR guitarist Jason Browning, Righteous Fool added Mullin’s erstwhile COC bandmate Mike Dean on bass during the stoner punk icons’ hiatus, and Righteous Fool was born. Recorded in 2012 at the same time as COC’s self-titled comeback album, the Fool’s apples don’t fall very far from the tree. Hardcore punk meets stoner metal in the psychedelic blues graveyard and throws a party. In some ways, Righteous Fool is more daring than COC. Mullins fractures the rhythm of “Shifty” like a film leaving out a few frames here and there, giving the knotty track an angularity that pushes the melody into both prog and postpunk territories at the same time. Middle eastern scales creep into the exceptionally trippy “Vortex,” while Robert Johnson’s “Hard Time Killing Floor* filters through psychedelic blues, transforming into something other than its creator intended and going further out than the Fool’s forebears would likely dare. Of course, the trio offers up plenty of the parent group’s unique Southern acid punk metal, blasting out some snarling grunge with “Low Blow,” laying down prototypical heavy flow on “Edict of Worms” and boogieing down the road on “Forever Flames.” The bands’ connection becomes even more explicit due to the appearance of the Fleetwood Mac standard “The Green Manalishi,” given a punk metal makeover just as it was on COC’s 1984 debut Eye for an Eye. While Righteous Fool never quite gets past its parentage while questing for its own identity, there’s enough promise here to make it doubly sad that Mullin is no longer around to push the band forward.