Corey Taylor – CMFB…sides (Roadrunner)
Say what you like about Slipknot / Stone Sour vocalist Corey Taylor, whose ubiquity and happiness to share his thoughts on any and every subject put before him may well have contributed to his divisive standing, his love of music and willingness to represent the full spectrum of his tastes in his output is to be admired. And, while relentless touring may have previously restrained the recorded output, making the most of the opportunity to spend more time in the studio, the past couple of years have seen a rawkier debut solo record, and this sister piece.
It goes without saying, CMFB…sides, a collection of covers, and acoustic and live originals, isn’t an essential release and won’t be chalking up AOTY awards. However, it is also worth saying this is no throwaway either. A ‘Home’ / ‘Zzyxz Rd’ medley dedicated to Taylor’s wife reconfirms that emotion and meaning are integral, both songs deep and powerful in their piano led format, while a return to the tunes of his youth sees straight up covers of Kiss deep-cut ‘Got To Choose’ and Metallica’s ‘Holier Than Thou’ (also on the Blacklist release), a fun blast of Dead Boys ‘All This And More’ and a rocking reworking of John Cafferty’s ‘On The Dark Side’. Scattered amongst those are a handful of acoustic tracks, with Red Rider’s ‘Lunatic Fringe’, as featured in previous Taylor live shows, in particular leaving a positive and wistful impression.
Buy the album here: https://amzn.to/33T2hYU
7 / 10
Insolvency – Illusional Gates (Self-Released)
Wistful is not the word to cover the opening barrage of vitriolic metalcore served up by French antagonists Insolvency as the first three tracks mix in tech and extreme metal while still being sure to deal back in the hooks, particularly on ‘The Endless Maze’, featuring Ryan Kirby (Fit For A King). After a tease that the metalcore track four ballad trope is going to make an appearance – relax, it’s only an electro interlude – matters are expanded on the title track, which allows cinematic swathes, and a more open countenance to come to the fore.
And while the less intense moments are a welcome moment of diversity, once the foot is off the pedal at the midpoint, Insolvency never quite get back in the fast lane, with the exception of a crushing tech-rifferama deep-order ‘’Smother The Candle’, ably assisted by CJ McMahon’s roar (sic) throat. As the album progresses the magic dust and je ne sais pas is harder to come by, and metalcore 101 and leaning into BMTH playbook plagues the latter part of the album. But, look, when this is pounding like a more-metal While She Sleeps there is more than enough credit in the bank for them to avoid foreclosure.
Buy the album here: https://music.apple.com/id/album/illusional-gates/1608916262
7 / 10
Schemata Theory – Unity In Time (Self-Released)
It is a far better thing to have ambitions and aims over and above the average band, and it is far easier to forgive when things don’t quite always come off (‘Pain Unknown’ has aspirations in the ‘Dear Future Historians’ ballpark), when you can see the vision and what a band is trying to do. Reaching for the stars and grabbing the moon and all that, and with a multi-vocal led and post-hardcore sound that doesn’t ape others but looks to create their own niche, Schemata Theory are close to nailing something very special indeed, sharing flashes of Killswitch Engage, Funeral For A Friend, the non-electronic moments of Enter Shikari (Rou Reynolds would appear a vocal influence) and the grunge-slack of Helmet.
Interestingly, it is on their most progressive and melodic track, the seven-minute centre-piece ‘Mirrors’ that the disparate threads are weaved together most eloquently and cohesively, and there is more than enough to suggest third time will be the charm.
Buy the album here: https://schematatheory.com/unity-in-time
6 / 10
Darkness Everywhere – The Seventh Circle EP (Creator-Destructor)
It really is easy to forget just how closely aligned the sound of the Gothenburg melodeath originators is to proper second wave metalcore, and Darkness Everywhere don’t just tread, but fully stomp the line. While spinning this (if one can indeed “spin” a stream?), I was inspired to follow up by bounding into In Flames’ Subterranean (Wrong Again) and Darkest Hour’s Deliver Us (Victory Records), both of which help inform just where this EP sits.
The aggressive throat of founding vocalist / guitarist drummer Ben Murray (Light This City) adds the hardcore edge as he undertakes melodic six-string duels with Cameron Stucky (Crepuscle).
‘The Grand Impact’ adds the unhinged and powerful steroid shot of as it recalls At The Gates classic ‘Under A Serpent Sun’ in a reverential way without ever coming close to ripping it off (with a guest spot from John Henry of the aforementioned DH), before ‘Lost Dimensions’ gallops and rages, coming in like the majority of its cousins at under three minutes. The Seventh Circle achieves its aim of worshipping its forebears reverentially while still having a contemporary feel, and promising much for the future.
Buy the album here: https://darknesseverywhere.bandcamp.com/album/the-seventh-circle
7 / 10
Møtivatiøn – The Infinite 8 Steps To Power / Money / More (Seeing Red Records)
Now, this is a genuine curio and something pretty cool. An actual collaborative effort pulled together by the mystical Ø, and featuring an absolute smorgasbord of allies and moving pieces. A simple premise… all positive contributions around the theme of motivation itself are welcome, providing the involvement leads to the evolving and betterment of those who are collaborating. An interesting principle. If alternative music did therapy sessions, it should sound like this.
As a result, there isn’t always a consistency of sound and style, but the amalgamations and absolute buy-in to the core themes of the project are an essential and resounding part of it. And where else would you find members of Lunachicks, Toxic Holocaust and High Reeper working with an AI voice to kick off an album (that goes on to contain members of L7, Obituary, Agnostic Front and Roddy Bottom, amongst many others) that ushers you into a trance of sludgy riffs and subverted motivational comments.
The music across the album ranges from dirgy sludges, to acoustic meanderings, to trancy interludes, to noise art rock and fuzz, such as the repetitive groove of the Roger Miret fronted ‘Swallow’ that takes us to Iommi-town before spiralling off into strange experimentations. Held together by the AI spoken-inserts, this glue of each artist buying into the concept the common purpose does allow for coherence in diversity, whether it is the alternative Pixies meets Helmet stomp of ‘Initium Fire / Gold’ (feat Donita Sparks), the distorted stoner howls and gallops of ‘Revelation Denied’ (Obituary, Andrew W.K. band, et al), to the 80’s new wave and synth experimentations littered throughout. Something quite different indeed.
Buy the album here: https://motivationdoom.bandcamp.com/album/the-infinite-8-steps-t-p-wer-m-ney-m-re
7 / 10