Slipknot are one of my favourite bands of all time. They were the first ‘big’ rock band I saw at their legendary Download Festival ’09 headline set. I’ve loved every album they’ve done and will defend almost all of their tracks. If you have been online over the last couple of days, however, you’ll have seen that people are divided on this one. Long term fans are claiming to hate them now, while others are saying it’s a masterpiece. In terms of the singles, I fall somewhere in the middle. So, strap in, ladies and gents, as I try not to offend anyone with my thoughts on one of the biggest albums of the year…
This is the first Slipknot album to not begin with a short interlude intro track. Instead, I thought it was an odd choice to open it on a Muse song.
In all seriousness though, this is a terrible way to open a Slipknot album. Pianos and Queen-style harmonised vocals. What the fuck? Where’s the aggression? The heaviness? This isn’t ‘People = Shit’, this is ‘People = Not That Bad Actually, Let Them Walk All Over You’. I’m not opposed to the song at all, it’s actually quite catchy and well put together. But if you’re going to put it on the album, don’t open on it. Chuck it towards the back half where it’s going to piss off the least amount of people. V-Man gets to be highlighted the best, the bass in this track is amazing. And Corey’s voice is as strong as it’s maybe ever been. But damn, this isn’t even something Stone Sour would usually touch. It’s an indie track from a nu/death metal band. Weird.
Single ‘The Dying Song’ is more of a step in the right direction. It reminds me a lot of the sound from the last couple of albums. A clean, harmonised chorus to open, quick, screamed verses over the top of chunky, heavy, simple-ish riffs. And Clown making his presence known throughout on his keg. It all screams post-Paul Grey Slipknot, and that definitely isn’t a bad thing. I know a few people seem to dislike their output after the Nine dropped down to Seven, but .5 and We Are Not Your Kind are both great albums.
It’s a true testament to the band that they can make something so heavy while also being tremendously catchy, and also showcase every single member of the nine-piece band. Of course the vocals are a highlight as always, but the bass and drums are also fantastic here and stand out above the rest. And that heavy bridge is awesome. playlisted!
I wasn’t that into ‘The Chapeltown Rag’ when it was first released nearly a year ago. I have to admit, I’m still on the fence with it. It’s heavy, for sure, and has all the elements I love from Slipknot. The pre is especially great, with the insanely fast drumming and guitars. Plus, Corey’s screams are clean as fuck here, pushing them better than he has in years. The chorus is catchy, clean goodness and the build-up in the bridge is a lot of fun. It reminds me of Psychosocial but bigger to begin with. I feel like it’d be fantastic live with the chanting towards the end. Okay, no, this is a pretty decent song. It’s finally started to click for me. A good song and a good choice of a single. Playlisted!
‘Yen’ was my favourite single out of the three released prior. It surprised me too, as I’m usually a fan of their faster stuff (as much as their slower, moody stuff is also great). But I can’t help it, that chorus is so damn good. Slipknot have always been good at their slower stuff, be it ‘Scissors’, ‘Dead Memories’ or ‘Spiders’. But this may be the best they’ve done at the brooding, plodding stuff. Also, the scratching in the bridge is the first time I’ve felt like it’s been utilised properly in years. Another huge highlight of the album and another to make it onto the playlist!
‘Hive Mind’ is good fun, but almost feels heavy for the sake of it. It’s the first track on the album that feels like an album track, not a single. It’s not a bad song, but doesn’t do much that ‘Chapeltown’ doesn’t do better. ‘Warranty’, however, is oozing with attitude and is so blisteringly quick that it stands out amongst the rest. The drums are crazy and the backing vocals through the verses and choruses are a nice touch. It makes the track catchy while still being very heavy. We even get some Kirk Hammett-like lead guitar parts in here, which is new and sounded great. Jay’s drumming in the bridge is insane, showing that he really is the most underrated drummer these days. And the bridge as a whole is fantastic. What a great Slipknot song, it’s definitely gotten rid of the sour taste from the opener. Playlisted!
‘Medicine for the Dead’ is a mid-tempo, dark banger. The riff reminds me of something off Metallica’s last album and keeps it heavy despite its pace. It’s rather similar to ‘Yen’, which is definitely a good thing. It has got a lot of elements of WANYK too, and the slower, darker tracks from that. It’s atmospheric and full of emotion and tension. There’s another catchy chorus, almost having a Halloween-style melody to it. It’s another good track from the biggest metal band of the 21st century.
From what I’ve read, ‘Acidic’ seems to be a lot of people’s favourite track. It opens on a death metal riff before dropping down to a rather clean, bass-led verse. Again, V-man is a huge highlight, providing some almost jazziness to it all here. It’s another plodding track which honestly surprises me, given its popularity. It’s also surprising as I didn’t like this track that much. There’s a nice lead guitar line from Jim Root in it and the odd good riff, but nothing stood out here. It wasn’t as good as the previous track or ‘Yen’, both of which are similar tracks. It’s not bad, just kinda there.
‘Heirloom’ returns to the heaviness. It does also share the most similarities with Stone Sour. I usually hate the comparisons, but I could definitely hear this being a part of House of Gold and Bones Pt.2. Especially with another great Jim Root solo, a rare thing on this album. I can also hear a lot of .5 in this track. It’s not bad, but maybe my least favourite track on the album not named ‘Adderall’.
Slipknot then pull a full 180 with ‘H377’. This feels like their first two albums blended together perfectly for a more modern audience and mature band. The aggression and anger from Iowa is there while Corey rap-screams just as well as anything from their debut. Plus, the chanted vocal hook for the chorus is going to go down a storm live and is very catchy. It gives off ‘Custer’ vibes. And Jim gets his best (albeit still short) solo yet.
This is what I expected from the album, and it’s a shame it’s so far into it and wasn’t considered for a single. It feels like a culmination of every sound they’ve done so far and I love it. Playlisted.
Unfortunately, ‘De Sade’ feels like one of the tracks that Root was referring to in that article earlier, one that they could have rehearsed and produced a little more before recording. It again wasn’t bad, but like a few tracks on this album, absolutely nothing stood out to me. As soon as it finished, I couldn’t remember a thing about it. Also unfortunately, ‘Finale’ didn’t do much for me. The chorus was catchy, for sure, and it had a real epic vibe to it. It works very well as a closing track, and a closing of a chapter. It will probably (hopefully) grow on me, and I feel like it’d be amazing at a theatrical live show, but for now it didn’t do much to grip me aside have a catchy vocal melody.
Overall: Man, this was a rollercoaster. While yes, there are some average tracks on this album, I’d say overall I enjoyed more than I didn’t and some of it was fantastic. This was a GOOD album. It’s super weird having a Slipknot album with no interlude tracks on it, and that might add to my feelings of it being a bit bloated. WANYK had the same amount of actual tracks and that also felt like a few too many album tracks for me. But a good half of this album was fantastic, with another couple of alright tracks and the rest meh. I think the rumours of rushing to get out of their Roadrunner contract were true, and it made for an oddly disjointed listen. But, for now, I’ll score it pretty high. It will probably go up and down until the end of the year.
The Score: 7.5/10