From his first emergence fronting Iowa titans Slipknot, Corey Taylor has enjoyed tearing up the rule books with indecent relish. Having changed the face of Metal forever and scored major acclaim with Stone Sour, the release of his first solo album in 2020 was massively anticipated, and its careening nature caught most off guard. Here was a disparate collection of songs that straddled genres with a wilful abandon, a veritable flick through the polymathic musician’s record collection.
Corey Taylor – CMF2 (Decibel Cooper / BMG)
Release Date: 15 September 2023
Words: Paul Monkhouse
This eclecticism is taken to its next natural level with CMF2, Taylor’s latest solo album, taking even more twists and turns along some surprising paths that might confound some but delight the majority.
Certainly, there’s a raw-edged energy to most of what’s here, the bile and anguish of Slipknot surfacing like some creature crawling from a dark lake, but there’s so much more, and the rays of light that puncture the gloom give hope amongst the catharsis.
Clearly signposting that this is going to be a head-spinning journey from the start, striking opener The Box heralds the album with its mandolins and strings, Taylor’s naked and powerful vocal adding to the feel of Americana Gothic meets The Beatles and the Beach Boys.
Things turn heavier with the pugilistic riff and grit of Post Traumatic Blues, the growled vocals and chiming vocals mixing pain and melody beautifully, the following Talk Sick the sort of punky stadium-filling rock that the Foo Fighters have made their core sound.
Peppered with touchstones throughout, Taylor has skillfully brought together disparate styles and moulded them into glorious wholes. The punk meets glam of We Are The Rest is a sugar rush with razor blades, and David Bowie meets Johnny Cash on Sorry Me are just two examples.
Only Taylor could think of bringing Iron Maiden-like fretwork into the Green Day-ish hard rocker Beyond, but lack of imagination has never been an issue with him, and CMF2 is flecked with a riotous variety of hues.
Along with guitarists Christian Martucci and Zach Throne, drummer Dustin Robert and bass player Eliot Lorango (all providing backing vocals), the Slipknot frontman was joined in the studio by two renowned keys players Fred Mandel and Roger Joseph Manning Jr, both with head-spinning CVs including Queen, Alice Cooper, Pink Floyd, Beck and Jellyfish.
With producer Jay Rushton providing his own special skills to the mix, this ensemble has seemingly captured lightning in a bottle not just once but thirteen times.
Whilst the adrenaline rush brutality of Starmate, Punchline and the venom-spitting All I Want Is Hate are set to thrill, it is when the gauge is set to quieter introspection that things hit the hardest. Speckled with country vibes, Breath Of Fresh Smoke is a sublime acoustic ballad that breaks hearts and the uplifting Midnight, and Someday I’ll Change Your Mind are so full of wonder and celebratory triumph that they might burst.
With hard-rocking Dead Flies closing the album with a last roar, the magical mystery tour is over, and you can do nothing but stand breathless, looking back at all that you’ve been through.
An album to play on repeat, savouring each chapter, CMF2 confirms all that we knew about Taylor’s creativity in style and then some.
One of the most compelling albums of the year, this is what genius looks like in 2023.