Album Review: Corey Taylor – CMFT

[Roadrunner; 2020]

This isn’t the Corey Taylor you know. By the end of CMFT, this might not even be the Corey Taylor you love. CMFT has all the hallmarks of an artist trying to completely separate themselves from recent releases of their other creative outlets; not much from this record would sit at home on a playlist heavily populated by last year’s bruising Slipknot release, We Are Not Your Kind. It also gives the impression of an artist free of any constraints placed upon them by being in a band, and embracing that freedom to explore. The musical landscapes of Slipknot and Stone Sour can be intense for the most part, but CMFT, on the other hand, is an exuberant and eclectic party-rock album.

The hints were there in the brighter tone of Stone Sour’s Hyrdograd that we would be seeing a different side to Corey Taylor on future releases. The news that they would be going on an indefinite hiatus ensured his primary musical focus outside of Slipknot would be his solo offerings, allowing him all the freedom in the world to essentially do whatever the hell he wanted to, rather than being handcuffed by what a Stone Sour record should sound like (for the record, I doubt being apparently constrained in that way would actually hold Corey Taylor back, but when you’ve got other bandmates involved, it can become an issue – see: Jim Root’s departure).

Taylor takes that responsibility as a solo artist and runs with it, throwing everything and anything into the mix; there are the standard sounds you’d expect from him, but there’s also country, blues-based hard rock, punk and some rap-rock thrown in for good measure. And therein lies the issue with CMFT: rather than those disparate influences somehow mixing to become a whole, they’re left to stand on their own. The more you listen to CMFT, the more it comes across as ‘Corey Taylor does (insert genre here)’ rather than something cohesive. Given the potential for those influences to bind together and create something resembling a whole – however mad that whole would be – it feels like a missed opportunity. Of the compositions that veer into foreign territory, “HWY 666” is the only highlight; a twisted mash-up of country, western soundtrack and punk – but sadly, this is just an exception to the rule.

CMFT, for its faults, is still a fun listen. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel but that probably wasn’t the objective anyway. Where Taylor plays it safe and sticks to what he’s comfortable with, as on “Silverfish”, “Culture Head” and “Home”, the results are as strong as you’d expect. If only we had a full album rather than just glimpses.