A philosopher for Gen X: Review of Corey Taylor’s Seven Deadly Sins

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For a long time, I’ve been meaning to read Corey Taylor’s books. After all, I love his wordsmithery in terms of song lyrics, so I suspected I’d enjoy his prose. I started with Seven Deadly Sins: Settling the Argument Between Born Bad and Damaged Good. Yes, I finally read this book!

One thing I noticed by perusing previous reviews was that a lot of readers have taken issue with the fact that most Christian folks don’t really pay attention to the seven deadly sins anymore—and I’ll grant them that—but that wasn’t really the point of Taylor’s book. Instead,  it was just kind of a jumping off point for him to share his philosophies about what we regard as sin, whether or not we call it “deadly” or think we’re going to hell or whatever.

Whether you’re looking at the seven deadly sins or just sin in general, Taylor posits at the very beginning that what we regard as sins may better be viewed as learning experiences. And I don’t disagree. Basically, when all is said and done, he makes the argument in Chapter 1 that “sin is a matter of opinion and in my opinion sins are only sins if you are hurting other people.”

Now those of you who have followed me for a while know that I am a huge Corey Taylor fan (even when I take issue with…something). I think he’s one of the finest lyricists of our age. In fact, one of the finest writers in general–which is why I’m calling him a philosopher for my generation. You might remember back when Slipknot was first starting out that some critics said he couldn’t write without using curse words. He quickly turned around and proved that that wasn’t true with Slipknot’s third album. But that just tells me they weren’t listening to his actual words, because the man is a poet, regardless of whether he says fuck now and then.

All that being said, I sometimes think that the man is a bit egotistical. In all fairness, though, I would say that a lot of his ego is earned. He really is all that. But sometimes that can be off putting to a person like me. And that was kind of how his first couple of chapters felt, that he was very full of himself, arrogant and egotistical–but I kept reading nonetheless. And now that I’ve finished the book, I wonder if maybe I should go back and reread those chapters, because the tone of the book seemed to change as I went along. Taylor began to get more personal. His words felt more real—more genuine, more authentic. And who knows? Maybe that was his plan all along, thinking that anybody who would make it through the first couple of chapters that might seem off putting were true fans who really wanted to know what he thought. But I’m just giving you a heads up if you’ve never read the book before—if you feel a little put off by the first couple of chapters, hang in there. Arrogant Corey becomes the very real Corey, a man who has a lot of important things to say. This treatise is not just railing against religion, but he’s truly challenging us to change the way we think.

By looking at the seven deadly sins as written just a few centuries after Christ, Taylor states that we shouldn’t be bound to those anymore. Now I would argue that the seven deadly sins as originally written were meant to be considered in addition to directives like the ten commandments and mortal sins, but as I said earlier, I think Taylor just wanted to use them as a way to talk about sin in general. At the end of the book, Taylor puts together a new seven deadly sins which he says are the things that people shouldn’t do if they want to live in a society and get along with people. For example, murder and child abuse are the top two sins on his list. And I think most of us would wholeheartedly agree that there are some things that we as a society should not tolerate. I’ll let you read his whole list and his rationale for each for yourself, but let’s just say I agree with his list and his philosophy.

So back to those first two chapters…if I had read them and then put the book down, never to read anything else written by Taylor, my opinion of him probably wouldn’t have changed. I have a pretty high opinion of the man overall because he’s intelligent and he has a hell of a way with words. As I mentioned earlier, I just sometimes dislike what seems like arrogance from him. But because I kept reading Seven Deadly Sins, I actually have a whole new opinion of the man. He’s funny. He’s witty. He’s pithy. And while you might say he’s opinionated, he backs up those opinions with facts or examples, which is all any good English teacher ever looks for.

In the end, I absolutely loved this book. And now I plan to read everything the man has ever written. I already have a couple more of his books sitting on my TBR pile.

Let me end with this: Corey Taylor is not just a metal icon. He is also a bit of a philosopher, one for my generation. This might have been my first Corey Taylor book, but it will not be my last. I thoroughly recommend this book, even if you’re not a huge Corey Taylor fan, because he makes some valid points that have nothing to do with metal music.

If you are a big fan, then know that this book is unlike other rock reads. It’s not a memoir. Don’t get me wrong: I read lots of rock memoirs and love them: Lita Ford, Stephen Pearcy, and a huge list of others that I want to read (that TBR pile never goes down!).

But this book was both more than that and less. He talks some about his past. In particular, there’s a chapter called “My Waterloo,” where he talks a lot about how his childhood shaped him. So, sure, there’s a bit of autobiography in the book, but it’s way more than that. As I mentioned, it is Taylor’s look at humanity and a suggestion on how to live your best life. This is a man who has lived life to the fullest and wanted to ponder how the idea of sin holds us back as a society, and I’m glad I read it.

If you’ve read it, tell me in the comments what you thought!

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