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Corey Taylor throws together his first solo album with 'CMFT'

by Brandon Carson Corey Taylor is without a doubt one of mainstream rock’s biggest stars. He screams his head off as Slipknot’s front man, who are still releasing engaging and hard-hitting metal music with 2019’s We Are Not Your Kind. He fronts the rock band Stone Sour, which was actually his first band but has always been seen as a soft, more mainstream Slipknot. He has a multitude of nicknames, a wide choice of words, and has written four books. But one thing “The Great Big Mouth” hasn’t done is release a solo record. I gave We Are Not Your Kind an 8.8/10 and still believe it is one of Slipknot’s best albums. Some of the lyrics on that emotional roller coaster of an album are the best that Taylor has ever written. So naturally, when CMFT was announced, I was beyond excited. While I was skeptical in the back of my mind, I figured Taylor would give his all with this release. But instead, we get a slew of tired Stone Sour B-sides that have barely any impact and never try anything new. CMFT is a long, bland, and boring album with standard, by-the-numbers rock production, cheesy lyrics, and the first time Taylor is not doing anything exciting.

"I know that there is nothing more that I can say"

Taylor is no stranger to cheesy lyrics and conventional rock tropes. In fact, it seemed to be the direction Stone Sour was going with 2010’s Audio Secrecy. CMFT however, is a new low. The record feels as if there is nothing left in the tank for Taylor. Every song contains a similar, predictable structure like it’s a Five Finger Death Punch project. But one of the biggest disappointments is the lyrics and songwriting. The opener, “HWY 666,” was initially written in high school according to Taylor, and then stretched out while writing the record. It’s obvious through lyrics like,
“When the Devil ran me down/He said, ‘Son, your soul's as good as mine/Just give me more and you'll be fine’/I turned and waved goodbye/When the Devil ran me down.../That's right!”
It’s clear to see that this is supposed to give off the vibe of “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” but when Taylor starts singing, it just comes off as a corny mess. “Culture Head” tries to be woke and play both sides to an argument, but with the lines,
“Your generation loves to b*tch, b*tch, b*tch/Just stay offended in your niche, niche, niche/Nobody's perfect, but you're bringin' everyone down,”
Taylor just sounds like an out of touch Gen X-er complaining about the "snowflakes." Just for comparison’s sake, here is a verse from Slipknot’s song “Orphan:”
“I wept when I realized/There were no more demons left to conquer/An opportunity to show my feelings/With skin so thick you swear it was armor/A penitentiary that only lets the oxygen out/I wasn't ready for a version of the truth to get out/I’m getting desperate, I wouldn't wanna fester in another bad dream.”
Gripping, real, and raw. Taylor’s writing for each band is definitely different, but even Stone Sour has interesting lyrics that one can ponder over. CMFT doesn’t come close to the level of authenticity in “Orphan” or in Stone Sour’s popular hit, “Bother.”

"Life, it's all really the same to me"

While Taylor was asleep at the wheel on the songwriting, surely the music is somewhat decent, right? On the contrary, it’s the weakest part of the record. CMFT plays with genres on most of the songs, hopping from Stone Sour hard rock to blues rock and even a punk song. But even though it seems these songs are different from one another, they all end up sounding the same. None of these songs are interesting or dare to try anything new. Each song is a sound that Taylor has tried before with Stone Sour, or it’s milking out all the boring post-grunge rock sounds that have remained in the rock mainstream for nearly 20 years. “Black Eyes Blue” and “Everybody Dies on my Birthday” are basically Stone Sour B-sides form their last album Hydrograd, and rockers like “Meine Lux” and “Culture Head” end up sounding like rip offs from the bands that influenced them (Guns ‘n’ Roses and Alice In Chains respectively). Besides two songs, the entire record features similar structure, and even those tracks contain uninspired solos from Stone Sour guitarist Christian Martucci. While Martucci’s soloing is fun the first time around on “HWY 666,” it grows old and tired. There’s one on every song with no breaks until “Home,” the eleventh song on the record. Jay Ruston produced the record, and he also produced Stone Sour’s Hydrograd in 2017. The production and mix between the two are virtually the same. But where risks were taken on Hydrograd with “Whiplash Pants” and “Somebody Stole My Eyes,” CMFT’s risks fall flat with bland production and stale instrumentals. But there is one track here that falls so flat, it’s amazing that it was even recorded. “CMFT Must Be Stopped” is the hip-hop/rock fusion that comes out of nowhere on the album. Taylor can rap; he has on many Slipknot songs from their first album. But here, it sounds incredibly out of place. Kid Bookie and Tech N9ne do their best with what is given; however, the fusion that is trying to happen never materializes and ends up sounding like a mess. But it’s hard not to give Taylor credit for trying.

"I'm just looking for ways to enjoy the view"

With all the criticisms being said, there are a few noteworthy achievements on CMFT. “Home” is a welcome change of pace for the album and a compelling ballad. So compelling that I’m willing to forgive how much it sounds like Stone Sour’s “Zzyzx Rd.” Taylor’s experimentation, while falling flat, needs appreciation as well. He seems like he’s having a blast writing and playing the music here and it’s hard not to fall into that excitement. Especially on the last—and best—track on the album, “European Tour Bus Bathroom Song.”