The Cory Smoot Experiment: 'When Worlds Collide' – CD Review


Writing this piece is a bittersweet experience for me, considering that the talented artist behind this project – former GWAR lead guitarist Cory Smoot, also known by his stage name Flattus Maximus – was tragically taken from this world while on tour with the band last November, and therefore unable to witness the release of the first studio album comprised of his own solo work. While it's a worthy album in itself, with all proceeds going to Smoot's family, it's just as significant that the twelve tracks on When Worlds Collide showcase an impressive range of talent that reflects not only elements of GWAR's outrageous, larger-than-life sense of entertainment, but reveal a darker, more serious side to the artist as well. Read on for a full review, and listen to one of the album's best tracks...

The creative process behind When Worlds Collide began a bit differently: back in 2010, when most of these tracks were written, it was originally intended to be a concept album entitled Religion is Fiction, and was to feature vocal contributions from many other metal heavyweights, including GWAR front-creature Oderus Urungus (aka Dave Brockie) and Lamb of God's Randy Blythe, both of whom hail from Smoot's home of Richmond, VA... but schedule conflicts prevented that from becoming a reality, so Smoot took up the vocal duties himself – not to mention just about every other instrument on the album.

Best known for high-caliber riffs that in part helped propel GWAR from a punk-metal crossbreed into balls-out thrash, Cory's definitely playing to his strengths when it comes to guitar mastery, with furious tremolo rhythms, eccentric picking styles and some wild neck-tapping leads. But it may come as a surprise to GWAR listeners to find that his vocals, though processed through a wide assortment of effects and harmonic overdubs, are often more melodically solid (if not quite as commanding) than Brockie's deliberately rough-and-rowdy vocal persona as Oderus. While Smoot's multi-tasking skills tie the songs together well, the album's weak link comes mainly in the production, which I'm guessing Smoot was no longer present to oversee; many of the tracks have a raw, unfinished mix more in keeping with demos – a flaw which may be the result of rushing the album through to release in the wake of his passing.


The album opens with one of the most aggressive, explosive cuts, "The Blood Red," which along with "Religion Is Fiction" and the mighty groove "Fortunate Sun" are the most reminiscent of GWAR's latter-day emphasis on solid, no-bullshit thrash mixed with touches of groove and grind, and there's some wildly experimental technical lead work on cuts like "Rebirth"... but the old school style that drives those songs is balanced with some dark and doomy passages like "Countdown to Oblivion," the album's first online single (which you can hear in its entirety below). The title track is a grand anthemic piece that stands alongside the dark and moody "Brainfade" as the strongest melodic entries on the record, but Smoot also charges headlong into brutal death metal terrain on cage-rattling tracks like "Mutilation" and "Mandatory Purgatory." Fans of The Goonies will appreciate the title "Sloth Loves Chunk," a funky and eccentric freestyle instrumental that closes out the album on a playful note.

Fans of Cory's excellent work with GWAR owe it to themselves – and to his family and memory – to pick up a copy of When Worlds Collide. While it's a sad reminder of a talent taken away from us too soon, it's somehow comforting to hear him in complete creative control for this one shining moment, and clearly having a blast doing it. Despite the rough-edged production, that sense of artistic freedom and pure jamming-out fun definitely comes through. When Worlds Collide is available now from Metal Blade Records (also GWAR's long-time label), who set up a website for the Smoot Family Fund where you can buy the album or donate directly. They're also currently streaming the track "Countdown to Oblivion" via Soundcloud, which you can check out right here...