The new solo record from Slipknot frontman Corey Taylor solidifies his status as one of the standard-bearers of hard rock and metal. The singer has taken on a number of musical endeavors over the years, from the unrelenting heaviness of Slipknot to the aggressive melodic grunge of Stone Sour. But as himself, he provides something that the others don’t offer: boundless possibilities.
His bands bring a contextual sound that fits within the greater heavy music ecosystem. But when Taylor makes a record under his own name, those constraints loosen and he can move in any direction. CMFT was the first step. Now he’s got both feet firmly planted.
Take, for example, CMF2’s first three tracks (sans acoustic pseudo-intro “The Box”). The ferocious guttural scream-laden hard rock of “Post Traumatic Blues,” glammy guitar riffs and handclaps of “Talk Sick” and bluesy, acoustic “Breath of Fresh Smoke” take on a wildly different musical personality. Corey Taylor passes the test on all of them.
While he’s known for his aggressive vocals, Taylor’s ability to deliver melodic vocals simply can’t be undersold. The latter of the three is unexpectedly understated and shines in its earnest simplicity.
“She said wasting your time in one place is the quickest way to die,” Taylor sings.
The tracks aren’t only varied; they’re also weighty, ranging from around four to six minutes. “Beyond” brings a highly dramatic classic sensibility, with a driving, anthemic quality not unlike that of Velvet Revolver. Guitarists Zach Thorne and Christian Martucci are nimble on their fretboards, dialing in some blazing guitar solos while Eliot Lorango and Dustin Robert hold down the rhythm section.
“We Are the Rest” keeps it simple with a pop-punk-meets-hair-metal infectiousness to the lyricism. It’s fists-raising rocker that has Taylor delivering wordy verses into a lively chorus.
Things shift dramatically on atmospheric ballad “Midnight,” which starts stoically before exploding into a rousing guitar solo on the finale.
“Something else was missing/ All the critics wouldn’t listen/ I don’t need another problem, just the pain,” Taylor sings with a keen sense of hindsight.
Taylor reverts back to his punky rock on “Starmate,” an urgent rocker that doesn’t attempt to do more than it needs. Then CMF2 slows to its quietest moment on “Sorry Me,” a sorrowful acoustic ballad that lets Taylor’s pain take center stage.
“We all deserve some time/ But then again, so do I,” he laments.
Following the bluesy swagger of “Punchline” (which is a different sound on this album even if it’s more standard hard rock), Taylor moves onto the driving and melodic “Someday I’ll Change Your Mind.”
The track verges the closest to pop-rock that Taylor gets. It’s lively and a bit of an earworm. The good vibes don’t last long, however, as it’s followed by the most brutal, heaviest cut of the whole album, “All I Want Is Hate.”
Follow writer Mike DeWald at Twitter.com/mike_dewald.