At different points during Seven Deadly Sins: Settling The Argument Between Born Bad And Damaged Good, Slipknot and Stone Sour frontman Corey Taylor name-checks David Lee Roth and Hunter S. Thompson as two of his biggest creative inspirations. This isn’t exactly revelatory, given Taylor’s heavy reliance on stream-of-consciousness surfer-Zen verboseness throughout his debut book’s interminable 200-plus pages (e.g., characterizing humans as “galactic soap scum in the big bathtub in the sky”). In his most brilliantly incoherent moments, Taylor seems as if he’s channeling the angsty teen inside Patrick Swayze’s portrayal of Bodhi in Point Break.
Naturally, Taylor views himself as something of a divine shaman for wayward teen outcasts and souls bedraggled by Catholic guilt and other oppressive societal mandates. Which explains why he deemed it not only necessary, but practically predestined that he publish a hastily scribed postmodern critique of the church’s appointed seven deadly sins—wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony—and use his own life to illustrate how they’ve outlived their utility.
The only problem is that Taylor offers few compelling anecdotes from his 15 years in one of the world’s most successful metal bands, even though that experience is all that really qualifies him to comment at length on the conflict between temptation and ancient theology. With a few exceptions—tales of his adolescent partying and a couple of rowdy backstage memories—Seven Deadly Sins is little more than an overlong, overlapping string of potentially engaging concepts immediately torpedoed by Taylor’s insecure, Neanderthal posturing (on tabloid celebs: “Do not expect me to give a rosy red clit rubbing if one of their trophy pets dies”) and irrelevant tangents. (“Here is a thought: Do you think Bill Gates can get an erection without crashing?”) The latter tendency in particular seems to mistake caffeinated, Beavis-as-Cornholio non sequiturs for fourth-wall-breaking creativity.
The glimpses into Taylor’s personal backstory do lend pathos to his vitriol. One chapter painfully details his rape by a male friend when he was only 11. But even that startling confession arrives long after readers have probably endured more uninspired vaginal metaphors and digressions into megalomania than they can stand. And for those attracted to the book’s gimmick as opposed to their relationship with Taylor’s music or cultural status, Seven Deadly Sins only proves to be an instructive guide for people who’ve never had their own original insight.
There are a lot of things for artists like Taylor to write about: fame, music, and even an expanded autobiography that links his work with Slipknot and Stone Sour to the troubled childhood he left behind. Unfortunately, the biggest sin committed by his inaugural tome is that it avoids those approachable, appealing topics in favor of a meandering, juvenile, plodding exercise in quasi-intellectual futility.