Forenote: Cory Smoot, aka Flattus Maximus from GWAR, passed away from a heart attack late last year after finishing off this side project, but before its release. Please have a listen to the record and if you like it buy it, don’t steal it, because the family he left behind gets all the proceeds.
The thing that strikes me most of all about The Cory Smoot Experiment record “When Worlds Collide” is the rich variety of sounds. Not just between the songs, but within, where you get get small doses of amazing sounds that flow effortlessly into each other while somehow remaining distinct. Yes there’s the almost-ever-present lightning guitar and drums, but this is a record of intricate, progressive, inventive loud metal that doesn’t sound like one track on repeat. Smoot uses some sounds that really are unnerving, a huge range of distortion effects, and some rock that’s more laid back, but generally it’s pounding, chugging, screaming guitar bass and drums that comes at you from so many directions at once that you simply surrender to the pummelling.
Smoot had not intended to sing lead vocals on this release but in the end his first preference didn’t eventuate. He does his best with the pipes he has, but the results are a little mixed, with some tracks needing more modulation or depth. On other tracks though, he has the perfect growl with great raspiness and the occasional semitone slide where tension is needed. There are moments when I’m reminded of Gibby Haynes, not just vocally with the occasional flashes of eccentricity and disregard of convention that the Butthole Surfers traded in.
When it comes to the whole record, however, the variety in vocal styles blended with the myriad sounds makes up for any shortcomings in Smoot‘s vocal abilities. The reality that it’s guitar and songwriting that he’s bringing to the table, and that’s where “When Worlds Collide” shines. With twelve tracks and 40 minutes there is ample time to explore and as you’d expect it takes a nanosecond from the time you press play before the fiery guitar licks begin. But it’s track two; ‘Fortunate Sun’ that really gets me intrigued with it’s dark menacing chords. Ten minutes in and ‘Brainfade’ pulls the pace back to a moment of quieter counterpoint guitar before things ramp up again flowing perfectly into the powerful onslaught that is ‘Mandatory Purgatory’.
It feels much less than 40 minutes before the psychedelic ‘Sloth Loves Chunk’ provides the perfect ending to the record, and endings are yet another thing Smoot does well. So many bands fuck up that last ten to fifteen seconds but here the songs either run into each other or end with assurance that eludes so many who play more progressive styles and avoid the verse/chorus formula.
Although the lyrics are often dark I can’t help feeling Smoot was having a bit of a sideways grin at us all when he recorded this. It’s progressive, inventive, often unpredictable and I had a lot of fun listening to it, especially after the seventh or eighth spin. Well worth a listen.