Released: 2012, Metal Blade Records
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
Since his passing late last year, much has been said about the late Cory Smoot. For the last decade, Smoot was better known to metal fans as Flattus Maximus, GWAR’s uber flatulent dinogod lead guitarist. The guy was a definite talent, of that there’s no doubt. But what I never realized before listening to his posthumously released solo album, WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE, is just how much Smoot’s musical influence played into GWAR’s recent resurgence in popularity. A collection of 12 tunes that were 100% conceived and executed by Smoot, WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE is a bittersweet epitaph to a creative soul that left us far too soon.
The tracks on the album date back to 2010 when Smoot was developing them for a concept piece dubbed RELIGION IS FICTION, but scheduling conflicts delayed the project for a year and it was eventually renamed The Cory Smoot Experiment. Smoot would handle all of the instruments and vocals himself, and the recording was finished towards late 2011 just before GWAR’s fall tour, and coincidentally just before his death. Listening to the album you’ll hear plenty of spots that recall recent GWAR material, be it as simple as the tuning or phrasing, or the hybridization of aggressive thrash riffs that are littered with progressive/jazz leanings and are ultimately much more complex than you’d initially give them credit for.
The obvious comparisons, however, come with the opening three tracks – each of which ended up with new lyrics and some subtle nudges on GWAR’s BLOODY PIT OF HORROR disc, and were also that disc’s opening three tracks. Hearing songs that are readily recognizable in structure but all together different is a bit jarring, but it gets the listener invested early on. I found myself listening to both versions of these tracks repeatedly to get the before and after effect, and before I knew it I was humming along to Smoot’s vocal lines, which are completely different than Dave Brockie’s.
Throughout the disc there are plenty of like minded heavy moments, particularly “Mandatory Purgatory” and the title track, but it’s where Smoot breaks out of the mold and lets his guitar do most of the speaking that carries the album. “Rebirth” is a sci-fi sounding bridge that bleeds into “Brainfade”, a gorgeous acoustic jazz trip. This is a side of the guy that you never got to hear in his day job, and it makes you appreciate this disc all the more for it. “The Gauntlet” has a kind of heavy, alternative vibe to it and features some dazzling lead runs, but the standout cut is undoubtedly the closing “Sloth Loves Chunk.” I love this tune just based on the title alone (Goonies shout out anyone?), but the track is just f#@king brilliant. It’s a sci-fi, funk inspired track that wouldn’t sound out at all of place on a GWAR disc, full of some great jazz runs and a quiet sense of purpose. The song tells a captivating story without Smoot ever opening his mouth.
Beyond being chock full of great tunes, 100% of the proceeds from the album go to The Smoot Family Fund, a charity set up by Smoot’s bandmates and their partners at Metal Blade Records to help support his surviving wife and newborn daughter. For that reason alone you should plunk out a few shekels for a worthy cause and consider the tunes that come with it a welcomed bonus. It’s easy to write of GWAR as a one-trick, shock metal pony, but WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE is a peek inside the true musical creativity of one of the band’s key contributors - and it’ll make his absence that much more profound after hearing it. Check out the Metal Blade links for more info. You’ll dig this, I promise.