Home Read Albums Of The Week: Corey Taylor | CMF2

Albums Of The Week: Corey Taylor | CMF2

The Slipknot / Stone Sour frontman and musical iconoclast continues to colour way outside the lines of his genre on his rebellious & rambunctious sophomore solo set.


THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “I have no fear when it comes to music. None,” Corey Taylor declares. “It feels so good to really lean into the things that I’ve been chomping at the bit to do.” Those “things”? The 13 diverse, unforgettable songs on CMF2, ranging from the punchy, timeless first single Beyond to Someday I’ll Change Your Mind, a soaring, sentimental stunner with an infectious chorus. The songs move seamlessly from the punk rawness and anthemic rallying cry of We Are The Rest to the acoustic lament Breath Of Fresh Smoke to Post Traumatic Blues, which has a wild sensibility that echoes the lyrical topic of PTSD.

“My first solo album was kind of where I was coming from. This album is more where we’re going,” he explains. CMF2 — where Taylor sings and plays lead and rhythm guitar, piano, and mandolin — packs the energy, experimentation and forthrightness that’s defined a career which has seen him sell more than 12 million albums with his Grammy-winning band Slipknot, and several million with chart-toppers Stone Sour. CMF2 follows up Taylor’s 2020 solo debut CMFT, which featured the No. 1 Billboard rock single Black Eyes Blue and the streaming sensation CMFT Must Be Stopped (ft. Tech N9ne and Kid Bookie). The LP hit No. 6 on Billboard’s US Top Rock Albums charts. CMF2 is Taylor’s first album on his own label imprint, Decibel Cooper Recordings.

When loosening pandemic restrictions allowed him to tour for his debut, Taylor’s solo songs found a rabid audience. The singer/guitarist felt that “there’s a huge potential to grow, so let’s consolidate it and focus it and create something that feels like a journey.” On CMF2, embracing darker and heavier tones doesn’t mean doomy: “I go for a way that feels fresh, but also classic. I’m honing in and trying different things. CMF2 feels like coming into my own as a songwriter, really figuring out what the message is for CMF2.”

The evolution of Taylor’s career is multifaceted, fueled by injustice, love, mental health struggles, satire, and social observation. Lyrics are by turns philosophical, raging, tender, and always relatable. Some tracks have been around in alternate incarnations, but 80% of the material was written in the last couple years, with Sorry Me the most recent cut on CMF2. His influences, too, are innumerable. “Lately, I listen to a lot of older stuff; Bloodbrothers by The Dictators, a lot of Faces, and the Stones Exile on Main Street, which is an album I was really tinkering with, just for the variety of it.”

Beyond harkens back to 2006 in some shape or form. Taylor knew the song was special, but never found the time to bring the tune to its potential. “We started from bare bones; I stripped away everything that was frivolous and went with the things that I loved about it,” he explains. “That meant rewriting lyrics, zeroing in on the riff and letting the band express themselves musically. “They’re all so good, I knew that they would improve on it immediately.”

Another song he couldn’t let go of — or finish — was Breath Of Fresh Smoke, a stripped-down, almost country tune. It’s the track that reignited Taylor’s passion for acoustic guitar, and reminded him, “‘oh, there are all these other colors that I like to play with.’ I felt it was something I definitely wanted to save for a special occasion. And this album was the occasion that made the most sense.” The brooding The Box features Taylor on mandolin; while We Are The Rest finds the frontman trying hybrid ideas on vocals, juxtaposing it with a certain type of music. The resulting tones and approaches may seem counter-intuitive. “But it works. I’m so excited to play live, because I just want to hear everyone chanting that shit right back at us. I wrote it specifically for the people in this world who feel like they’re not represented.”

The LP was produced by Jay Ruston (Anthrax, Steel Panther, Amon Amarth), who produced Stone Sour’s 2017 Hydrograd as well as CMFT, returning for Taylor’s second solo full-length. “Together we have great ideas, great energy, and are quick to try everything,” Taylor says of his studio collaborator. “We’re not afraid to tell each other if it’s a good idea, or also a bad one; we have that kind of trust. It’s rad.”

Guests on CMF2 include the keyboard players Roger Joseph Manning Jr. (Jellyfish, Beck) and Fred Mandel (Alice Cooper, Queen, Pink Floyd). “The songs that we sent Roger immediately became 10 times better because of his brilliance and his fucking art! Everyone who came together on this project, it was almost kismet.” Taylor can barely wrap his head around his luck. “Fred Mandel, not only was he open to playing on some of my songs, but he liked them and did all the Hammond stuff on Breath Of Fresh Smoke and blew me away. Like, pinch me, what the fuck’s happening right now?”

There are two “mystery” men credited on the album as well, not to mention Easter eggs within the lyrics themselves, those mostly for his wife. CMF2 has a sense of passion and energy that is organic and palpable, echoing Taylor’s own powerful personality. The tracks were done live in the studio, with overdubs only for vocals, solos and extra ear candy. The band — guitarist/ background vocalist Christian Martucci, drummer/background vocalist Dustin Robert, and guitarist/ background vocalist Zach Throne — now features bassist/background vocalist Eliot Lorango. “It’s almost like we were looking for Eliot the whole time. Now that we have him, the band feels so solid.”

Leaving no creative stone unturned, CMF2’s cover is as striking as the songs. It nods to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, with colors so vivid “you can see them from space,” Taylor says with a laugh. The purple is an homage to Prince, a major inspiration, the cavalcade of Coreys an homage to his myriad of musical lives. Those lives include seven studio albums with Slipknot between 1999 and 2022 and six records with Stone Sour, not to mention four (!) books, including 2011’s New York Times bestseller Seven Deadly Sins: Settling the Argument Between Born Bad and Damaged Good, and guesting/collabs with everyone from Dave Grohl to Rollins Band to Korn. “I have this immense career behind me, represented by all of these different looks on the album cover. I wanted to pay homage to that,” Taylor explains. “Plus, it gives people a reason to look at the artwork!”

In crafting his second solo outing, Taylor opened doors to the mystique of rock and roll, sharing much of the behind-the-scenes CMF2 process on social media. Fans became part of the record’s journey, becoming one of the “whole gang of crazy pirates making this fucking rock album that you can put on at any time of day and it just feels right,” Taylor concludes. “We wanted them to get as excited for everything as we were.”


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