What makes a band truly great? Often, it’s about the mysterious ways in which key members complement one another. Where would Public Enemy be without Flava Flav’s goofy wisecracks to offset Chuck D’s political posturing? Or The White Stripes without Meg’s studied simplicity to undercut Jack’s showboating?
It’s a similar story with masked metal legends Slipknot. In the red corner, we have the nonet’s evil genius Shawn Crahan (aka Clown), who maintains a low profile but steers the good ship ‘Knot towards each nightmarish incarnation. And in the black corner, we have barbed wire-voiced Corey Taylor, who’s spent the last quarter-century becoming a reliable rent-a-quote, a bestselling author and a friend (and foe) to the stars. He’s the yin to the more reclusive Clown’s yang, as was evidenced by his debut solo album, 2020’s gaudy ‘CMFT’ (or – ahem – ‘Corey Motherfucking Taylor’).
Drawn from ‘80s hair metal and seemingly tailor-made for beer advert montages, this Vegas-produced rock record found him partying in a universe parallel to Slipknot’s bludgeoning art experiments. Taylor’s gone for another spin of the wheel with the nonsensically titled ‘CMF2’, which sees him indulge in a little commercial, glossed-up country on ‘Fresh Breath of Smoke’, arena-sized chants on ‘We Are The Rest’ and a hairspray-stiff guitar solo on ‘Post Traumatic Blues’. It’s tempting to imagine Clown with his shiny silver head in his hands at the indignity of it all.
But that’s kind of the point. Last month, Taylor told NME his solo output, for which he assembled a full band, offers the chance to scratch a creative itch he couldn’t reach within the confines of Slipknot or his other group, Stone Sour. So ‘All I Want Is Hate’ sees this Beatles fan air a grievance against the one Fab Four tune he can’t stand, ‘All You Need Is Love’, by subverting its message with serrated riffage and a death growl designed to interrupt the hippie dream. No wonder ‘CMF2’’s cover depicts a metal reimagining of the ‘Sgt. Pepper’s…’ artwork. The acoustic ‘Sorry Me’ initially echoes Slipknot’s classic ‘Vermilion, Pt. 2’ before plumbing much more personal depths, while ‘Punchline’ soars with a classic rock chorus.
Less palatable is the relentlessly saccharine ‘Someday I’ll Change Your Mind’, though there’s enough good stuff on here to justify the album’s existence. And if nothing else, it’s a fascinating insight into the dichotomy that drives one of the greatest bands of the 21st Century.
- Release date: September 15, 2023
- Record label: BMG