It seems like a solo album from Corey Taylor is long overdue at this point in his career. Given how prolific he’s been in recent years with Slipknot and Stone Sour, it’s no surprise his previous comments on it gestating for quite some time. Similarly, comments about how varied it was going to be were equally unsurprising – it’s been done by others like Slash and Phil Campbell. Albeit this was meant to push those boundaries further.
Except for the most part CMFT doesn’t push Taylor’s boundaries all that far. He’s not trying anything new on a vocal level, knowing where his limits lie and how they tie in with the songs serve the music better so if you’re looking for vocal chord-tearing screams, you won’t find them here. There’s a catharsis around these songs as if they’ve been weighing heavily on him for some time and neither of his usual creative outputs have been suited for them. Nor does he have enough in the tank to make a complete departure for an entire album, or even an EP, like that time Steven Tyler made a pretty passable country record.
Taylor has assembled a great band to make this come to fruition, all of whom have their own impressive CVs and all with their own existing link to him, complete with producer Jay Ruston. And it’s probably this that keeps this from falling into the glorified vanity project realm. While it’s very much his album, at least everyone involved is on the same page. The songs are all of a high standard at the technical level but, barring the lead single, none are particularly memorable.
There are a few surprises in the form of high-octane opener “HWY 666” with its Southern influences which is then revisited again on the aptly-named “Kansas”. Meanwhile, “Halfway Down” has a Bon Scott-era AC/DC-inspired boogie riff to it, acting well to the polar opposite of soaring “Samantha’s Gone” which epitomises the American approach to classic rock. Elsewhere, “The Maria Fire” could have come straight from a Black Star Riders album or even prime-era Thin Lizzy, so it’s safe to say Christian Martucci’s involvement in the former has cut deep for him to bring it back here.
There’s a sense of familiarity to a couple of numbers, mainly in “Culture Head” and “Everybody Dies On My Birthday” which could have easily sat on the last Stone Sour album with their bombastic no-holds-barred sound. The familiarity continues in the album’s two sombre moments – acoustic-driven “Silverfish” and the bare-boned keys of “Home” with some of his most tender vocals to date. Given this is from the person who has songs like “Snuff” and “Through Glass” to his name, these are largely unsurprising numbers, they’re just a touch more mature with the passing of time.
However, the high point of the album comes from the afore-mentioned lead single, “CMFT Must Be Stopped”. While it’s likely to be divisive, the sheer audacity to drop this to usher in your solo debut album yet be buried at the end of the album is to be admired. The most memorable number on the album, partly down to how different it is from the preceding tracks, it’s a balls-out party rock anthem laced with a fist-pounding chanting chorus and plenty of hip-hop touches but tries to do a little too much by adding in another Black Star Riders-esque riff.
It’s tongue-in-cheek and Taylor may as well have said if you don’t get the joke then the joke’s on you. His flow isn’t wonderful and it’s hard to believe this is the same guy who nailed it on “Spit it Out” and it’s only highlighted further with guest verses from Tech N9ne and Kid Bookie. It all comes together to be the album’s biggest risk and is followed closely by closing song “European Tour Bus Bathroom Song” with its classic Motörhead-style opening and furious punk feel. Moreover, the album could easily end on “Home” but there’s no suitable place for their inclusion earlier and putting them at the end, despite being the two best songs, makes them feel like afterthoughts.
CMFT isn’t a bad album by any stretch but it’s far from the best music Corey Taylor has been involved with. It’s not going to convert any people who already disliked his work but that’s not who this is meant for. Where this fairly straightforward rock approach (with the occasional twist and turn) stumbles most is that if it wasn’t for the man himself, it’d be pretty unnoteworthy. Indeed, if the entire album had been as risk-taking and diverse as the final two tracks, it would make for a far more captivating listen.
CMFT is released on 2nd October