Love him or hate him there is no denying that Corey Taylor is a musical enigma.
I’m not going to detail his credentials because similarly if you are on the other side of the fence then no matter what I say here you will invariably find something negative to come back with.
But, like me, if you are simply a fan of music then strap in and enjoy the ride because the Great Big Mouth is back ladies and gentlemen with the second offering from his solo project simply titled CMFT.
The first album polarized opinion. Some bemoaned the lack of aggressiveness while others were too quick and busy to compare this to Taylor’s other musical families without taking any slight degree of separation to appreciate it for what it was and was always intended to be.
An expression of music.
Personally, I am and have been a massive fan of Corey Taylor regardless of what band he is fronting. The man has a freakish vocal ability but also possesses one of the best creative minds and grasps of the English language in any genre of music from any period of time.
With CMFT Taylor allows his music to be consumed while he is at his most vulnerable. No masks. No gimmicks and no fucks given.
Which is precisely the mindset you should take when going into CMF2.
With opening track The Box Taylor resists the obvious temptation to come out all guns blazing, instead dishing up a pleasant palate of acoustic ambiance, void of expectation.
It almost seems like a personal invitation to “enjoy the show”, though I doubt many would defy morality and do anything to the contrary.
Post Traumatic Blues changes tact quickly.
A swirling maelstrom of intent the track starts with a spiraling piece of reverb before Dustin Robert (drums) gets busy and shifts the band into top gear.
This band is blessed with dual rhythm/lead guitarists in Christian Martucci and Zach Throne and both of them storm the castle gates with force which in turn coaxes Taylor’s inner angst to the fore.
The pace of this track is explosive and infectious, made even more enticing as Taylor roars into the microphone and fires the first shots of an ongoing war with society in general.
The chorus is fat, meaty and infectious – something which Taylor could do in his sleep – but it is the musical precision surrounding him that elevates this track even further.
Eliot Lorango (bass) lays down the chops while the two guitarists go at it, and if memory serves me correctly from the music video Taylor also contributes more than fleetingly on guitar. His playing ability has come along leaps and bounds in recent times, adding another feather to a cap that is already in need of more elastic.
Talk Sick fires up with some nice fuzzy and distorted guitar that soon speeds up markedly before pulling back to reveal a cool little rock number with another catchy as fuck chorus.
It already seems like Taylor – and the whole band for that matter – are enjoying themselves on this album.
And rightfully so.
CMFT – as the name suggests – is more of a personal outlet for Taylor to purge any leftover musical demons without having a legion of expectant fans or maggots judging everything he does.
Breath Of Fresh Smoke pulls the handbrake on firmly, the gentle strains of acoustic guitar smothering the silence before Taylor eases into the task at hand. You could almost picture him sitting on a burnt-out log around the campfire singing towards the stars while he wrote this.
Or probably not, but it makes for a picturesque portrait.
It’s not a ballad as such, more so a moment of levity amid the initial rush of testosterone. And as much as I am not a fan of such moments of grandeur I also know that with repeated listens I will be finding my own log and space in the paddock to sing deliriously at my own patch of night sky.
Beyond starts with a cool guitar lick, and it takes me a second to register this was the lead single from the album. I loved it the first time I listened to it and am liking it even more with the volume cranked through a good set of headphones.
I might be wrong, but it seems Taylor has shelved his usual OCD when it comes to lyrics on this album. I remember him once telling me he could labour for long periods searching for one word or phrase to complete a line or verse but so far on CMF2 you get the impression he is writing for release rather than purging his deepest, darkest thoughts.
That is by no means a negative – lyrically Taylor could make The Wiggles worthy of an ARIA – but you get the impression he has taken a more simplistic approach this time around.
We Are The Rest kicks in with a massive gang-sounding chant/vocal that gets the toes tapping straight up before plotting a one-way course to Rock City on the strength of a driving drum pattern that guides the rhythm section through unchartered waters at the behest of Captain Corey.
This has feel good song written all over it and is my smokey for a future single.
Midnight lumbers out of the gate with an underlying industrial feel before a hauntingly rich musical interlude coaxes Taylor’s placid nature to the fore. Even when singing slow songs Taylor manages to avoid the ballad cliché which isn’t easy to do.
The emergence of a string section fails to denigrate this song into the pages of sorrow, instead easing gently into the background preferring to act as a beacon of hope rather than a stairway to oblivion.
A tasty guitar solo pours fuel on the fire before Taylor entices more passages of longing and rejection as only he possibly can.
Starmate continues the theme alluded to in the title before Taylor brings his spacecraft in to land, threatening back-to-back softer numbers before striking a bum note and proclaiming “ah fuck” that seems to be all the invitation Martucci and co need to sprinkle rock dust over the increasing calm and kicking the party back into full swing.
Taylor has mastered the art of structuring his songs in such a way that he ticks all of the prerequisites. Catchy chorus. Check. Infectious grooves. Check. Harmonious balance. Check.
I dare say if he were so inclined he could write a full album of chart-topping mainstream singles, but that’s not his aim or what he craves musically.
His rock commandments consist purely of music for the sake of pleasure, it just so happens he is pretty fucken good at what he does.
I can already tell Sorry Me is going to be a tear-jerker before the first note is struck but also find myself blissfully unconcerned.
It delivers beautifully, just Taylor and his guitar, the soft strains of a faint string section adding depth and sorrow. This album is quite diverse and eclectic sonically, throwing a plethora of styles and nuances into the fray at irregular junctures but somehow doesn’t feel disjointed.
It is designed as a musical journey and if you can switch off from expectation and allow yourself to be swept along with the passing tide it is an exhilarating and unexpected ride.
Punchline has all the bearings of a bad joke but is anything but as it menaces to life on the back of some tough guitar riffs. It could go one of two ways. Either explode into full-on rage or pull back into more accessible rock and chooses the latter without veering too far off course.
It has a groove and swagger lacking in too much music these days as modern music focuses increasingly more on technical intricacies rather than the pure sonic pleasure that is meat and potatoes rock.
A wicked guitar solo raises the blood pressure momentarily before Taylor drops back a gear as the drums quicken drastically, dragging the rhythm section violently along with it. In the blink of an eye Punchline shifts direction into more aggressive territory and continues with a ferocious dose of reality until it seems Taylor’s spacecraft has been refuelled before dutifully returning to the stormy skies.
Someday I’ll Change Your Mind starts with a beautiful piece of piano that offers momentary respite from the gathering weather and diffuses the recent rumblings, smothering them in a blanket of belonging and controlled precision.
I have to admit this drew my first moment of indecision so far on CMF2, but you can’t like everything, right?
All I Want Is Hate sounds more like it and jumps frantically from one ear to the other in a confusing intro that almost has me feeling dizzy.
Taylor soon settles the nerves as he barks into action, ditching his niceties into the piano keys after the last song and gulping down a small handful of angry pills in the process.
This is a cracker of a song, more in keeping with what most of Taylor’s fans would be wanting more of, but, if anything, has even more impact when used sporadically over the record. Definitely my favourite.
Dead Flies is the song chosen to wrap things up, and it starts off as a meaty slab of rock goodness, just the way we like it.
It has an ominous presence that could dart down any one of a number of paths but instead chooses the one most travelled by settling into a classic rock groove complete with sing-a-long chorus to appease the masses.
It is a relatively safe but not unsurprising end to proceedings with Taylor electing to depart on his divisive terms rather than an explosive ball of rage. It is the perfect closing chapter to a sweeping musical novel with blank passages where Chapter names should be.
This book writes itself, for itself. Let’s hope it doesn’t run out of ink any time soon.
*All reviews in HEAVY are just one person’s opinion of the album. We encourage honesty in reviews but just because our reviewer may or may not like/appreciate an album, that doesn’t mean their opinion is right! We encourage you to have a listen for yourself and make up your own minds!*