Let me take you back to about 10 o’clock last Thursday night. I’m sitting in the middle balcony of the brand new Wolves Civic Hall, and watching below me about 3000 people go crazy.
There’s a modern-day King of Rock onstage and he’s commanding his flock. He says: “You know what else I like to do? Wolverhampton? ”Talk Sick'”. I turn to my mate and say: “This is my favourite song of the year”.
Corey Taylor has just got to the bit where he sings: “so much for the trickle-down economy” when a thought hits me: I don’t think I ever wrote about “CMF2”.
Granted, no one except me gives two shits about this – and in my defence, I had changed jobs after 16 years just as it was coming out, but there’s sod all point in having a music website if you don’t review your favourite record of 2023, is there.
So there goes my big reveal too, but we are where we are.
So it goes like this. It all starts with something acoustic and a tad understated, as the gig had, actually, with “The Box”, on which Taylor implores you to “take a breath, enjoy the show”.
But let’s be honest about this, anyone with a tiny knowledge of Taylor knows this, he doesn’t do understated for long, so “Post-Traumatic Blues” thunders in. Think Stone Sour or one of Slipknot’s more catchy ones, but it’s the classic Corey sound, if you will. All accessibility, brutality and melody. All at once. No one does it better, and in telling you now that Christian Martucci and Zack Throne are having the time of their lives on guitar.
Then there’s the aforementioned, “…..Sick” It’s one of the finest hard rock songs this year, and proof that Taylor is a rare talent.
And OK, I’ll hold my hands up. I prefer Stone Sour to Slipknot, but it is the mellower end of these solo endeavours that intrigues. “Breath Of Fresh Smoke” is as country as he’s ever been. It’s a beauty too. The organ is glorious.
In fact, it’s the chances he takes that are special. “Beyond” is a brilliant hard rock song, it sounds like nothing he’s ever done before, but it could only be Corey Taylor, the hook is incredible.
“We Are The Rest” is a Lizzy riff in all but name (but Jay Ruston is producing and he’s done every great hard band from Slash to BSR and back again) and was integral to the live show, as was the dark and brooding “Midnight” – listening to it again the strings are to the fore before it explodes.
“Starmate” is yet another with a copper-bottomed chorus, while “Sorry Me” is another in a long line of unsettling ballads that Corey Taylor has done. This ode to self-help is eerie, “Punchline” is another in another long Taylor line, that of sounding menacing whatever he sings. He lets out a laugh after singing “I won’t go down that road again” which is chilling.
Because he’s used to filling arenas, stadiums even, and everything here is enormous, even the overt pop of “Someday I’ll Change Your Mind” ends up sounding like U2. “All I Want Is Hate” gets its punk on, and there’s still time for something almost epic, with “Dead Flies” as overblown as Maiden at their best, yet still unmistakably Corey Taylor.
That’s the synopsis. Brilliant, grandiose, occasionally vicious, heavy, hard rock that goes where it wants and does what it pleases – yet all the while being so obviously Corey Taylor that there’s no debate.
Everything the man touches turns to Gold, and “CMF2” is no different. In fact, it might be one of the best things he’s ever done. It’s a genuine album of the year contender.