SLIPKNOT – 5 : The Gray Chapter

Slipknot - 5 The Gray ChapterNever in my life did I think that I one day would even bother with writing a review of a Slipknot album. Since the day they started – or at least since the day I first heard of them – I hated this band with every bone in my body. I thought their over aggressive attitude felt fake and their masks of evil clowns and pigs and whatever they used was so ridiculous that half would be enough. On top of that, I thought that their music sucked – hard! I knew they were selling shitloads of records in the US, which was totally beyond me. I mean, we all have different tastes and maybe I was totally off my rocker by dismissing the band so much, but their music was (and still is) totally uncommercial and I just couldn’t believe how that kind of music – which do travel a pretty narrow road – could sell so much. I mean, it’s not exactly radio friendly Britney Spears music we’re talking about here. That made me think about the fact that maybe Slipknot’s image wasn’t glued on, maybe they actually were that angry and mad at everything and then some. And maybe those masks weren’t all that goofy, maybe they actually meant something? Well, no matter what, I still didn’t like the music and I just put Slipknot in the “can’t be arsed to…” category. Until one day a couple of years ago or so, when my brother played me this song called “Psychosocial”  without telling me who it was. I totally loved the song and he let me know that this was actually Slipknot. Ooooooh-kay, I thought, maybe I have to give them – or at least the album the song was taken from, All Hope Is Lost (2008) – a chance, maybe that band wasn’t so bad after all. Well, that album is almost getting worn out at my place and I really think it’s an amazing record. Since that album came out, lots of stuff has happened in the Slipknot camp and none of it has been any good. In May 2010, bass player and song writer Paul Gray (aka The Pig or #2) was found dead (hence the new album’s title) in a hotel room. Gray was one of Slipknot’s original members and it was unclear for a long time whether the band would go on or not. To make matters worse, before recording this album, one of the band’s founding members, Joey Jordison (aka known as The Scarecrow and #1) got the boot. So it wasn’t without hassle this new album was made. Being a non-fan turned fan of one album, I still was very curious of what Slipknot had managed to come up with. Also, I was really interested in how the new members, bassist Donnie Steele and drummer Jay Weinberg (son of E Street Band drummer Max) would fit in.

Well, when it comes to the bass playing, I’m not familiarized enough with Gray’s sound to determine whether there are any big changes in that department at all, but when it comes Jordison’s drumming, it’s easier to do so. Jordison has a very personal sound and a style of his own, which is why his firing came as a big surprise. Jordison’s drums are a very big part of Slipknot’s sound. However, Weinberg seems to be doing his job right because it’s almost impossible to differ his playing to Jordison’s – he sounds exactly the same. I guess the rest of the band had decided that the drums should sound this certain way – with or without Jordison. “XIX” is a slow and monotone, dark and cold, but feels more like a long intro than a song. It’s really cool, though and builds an atmosphere for the rest of the album.”Sarcastrophe” is a brutal and angst driven metal groover, angry and fierce, but still melodic enough. Great jawbreaker! “The Devil In I” is heavy, brutal and angry but with a really melodic vein that makes it almost catchy – killer stuff! “Killpop” is brilliant – a love song in a Slipknot way. A hard song but the chorus is almost ballad-like. “Goodbye” is emotional and heartfelt, but still angry and dark. It’s a great ballad with an awesome hook and my guess is that this song is about Gray. “Nomadic” has a brilliant chorus, the kind that glues itself in your mind and won’t go away. The song itself is, as always, angry and hard.  “The One That Kills The Least” has a pop melody and I love the contrast to the brutal metal that is the song’s core. That was exactly what got me hooked on “Psychosocial”. “Custer” is a complete discharge – pure anger – and I love it! “If Rain Is What You Want” is the album’s closer and it closes the album in an uncomfortable way. The song is heavy, dark, sad and melancholic, almost scary and it leaves the listener crawling through his / her skin. Yeah, that’s the way to do it. In this day and age you also need a couple of tunes for the deluxe edition – artists has to make a living too, you know – and in Slipknot’s case, I’d consider the deluxe edition hard if I was a fan because the songs saved for that are killers, both of them. “Override” is a pretty normal hardrocker with an amazing dark, but catchy melody and “The Burden” is one of the best tracks on the entire album. It’s slow, doomy and Corey Taylor (aka #8) screams throughout the song in desperation. Fantastic! The rest of the deluxe bonus CD is just a lot of noise, mumbling and gibberish mambo jumbo and I really see no reason why they would want to include it. I mean, who on earth wants to listen to stuff like that? No matter what, I’d still go for the deluxe edition.

I love this album. It took me one listen and I was hooked and it grew on me by second listen. If the hardcore Slipknot fan will love this, hate this or just shrug shoulders about it, I’m clueless of, but if All Hope Is Gone was to your liking, I really can’t see disappointment come creeping in. Slipknot will always be Slipknot, I guess, but if I compare this album and its predecessor to their earliest stuff, I think the new records are more melodic without losing any heaviness or aggression. Because this is angry music. This is hard music. Brutal stuff. But I love they way the band manages to mix all this darkness and aggression with melodies that are, in many cases, catchy. But for all you true metal heads out there, Slipknot catchy does not mean “whoa whoa” Desmond Child choruses, it simply means that Slipknot has written some really memorable melodies that only adds fuel to the metal fire. I would say that Slipknot has done it again – without a doubt and I wouldn’t be surprised if the shitload record sales continues with this album.

Jon Wilmenius (8/10)

Tracklist:

1. XIX
2. Sarcastrophe
3. AOV
4. The Devil In I
5. Killpop
6. Skeptic
7. Lech
8. Goodbye
9. Nomadic
10. The One That Kills The Least
11. Custer
12. Be Prepared For Hell
13. The Negative One
14. If Rain Is What You Want

Deluxe edition bonus tracks:

15. Override
16. The Burden

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