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Slipknot’s last full length, “.5: The Gray Chapter” was released after a turbulent time for the band. They had just ousted Joey Jordinson from the drum stool, and had to deal with the passing of long time bass player Paul Gray. This new record is coming out under a similar cloud of controversy and mourning given the recent lawsuit involving now former percussionist Chris Fehn who sued the band earlier this year, as well as the passing of Shawn Crahan’s daughter earlier this year. While the record was written long before these events occurred, it’s hard not to read into the lyrics when you bear these two things in mind. (It’s worth noting that Fehn had recorded all his parts and still features on the album artwork).
The record is structured very well, and the band makes clever use on interludes at various points which give Sid Wilson and Craig Jones a chance to flex their creative muscles in a way that differs from their usual contributions. The lead single “Unsainted” gets things off to a cracking start, following a short intro called “Insert Coin”, and has a huge anthemic, crowd pleasing chorus that will no doubt be a highlight of the band’s tour next year of which Ireland will be the first stop. The second singe, “Birth of the Cruel” comes immediately after and is a slower, but heavier affair with Corey Taylor’s vocals clearly inspired by the late Layne Stayley of Alice in Chains. “Nero Forte” and “Red Flag” are another two certs to be played live, the former containing a signature Slipknot element in the form of a snare drum line similar to that used in “The Blister Exists” or “Psychsocial”. Respite for the listener comes in the form of “Spiders” which is driven by bass, drums and piano and is performed in an unusual 7/4 time signature which puts you on edge. “My Pain” is another somber piece, which is underpinned by the more electronic side of the band. Album closer, and another track that had been previously released “Solway Firth” rounds out proceedings really well with a combination of punchy drums and percussion and a massive main riff.
While the last two records haven’t quite hit the highs of “Iowa” or “The Subliminal Verses”, this one is a step back in the right direction but still brings something new to the table. New(ish) drummer and bassist, Jay Weinberg and Alessandro Venturella respectively, have fully ingrained themselves into the band by this stage and Weinberg’s influence on the band is clear to see. While comparisons are always inevitable, he ensures that he’s not just doing the same things that Jordinson did before him. The band have once again shown why they have remained a force for so long while a lot of their Ozzfest/Family Values touring partners from the late nineties to early two thousands have fallen by the wayside. They once again manage to reinvent themselves to ensure that fans of the older stuff won’t be disappointed, and those who wish to see the band grow and expand musically will find a lot to like as well.
These are the intelligent and critical words of our Kevin Dillon, @kevinwritestuff.
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