Slipknot have kind of become musical marmite, either you loathe them more than Justin Bieber’s publicist or you adore them to the level of tattooing your face to look like one of the member’s masks (if anybody has actually done that please send us a picture, that’d look awesome). Whether it’s through an insanely manic stage presence to giving Rammstein a run for their money when it comes to on-stage pyrotechnics, The ‘Knot have become one of the most desirable and prominent live acts of the 21st century. Having suffered a tremendous blow through the death of former bassist Paul Gray, some where unsure of whether we’d ever see their beautifully masked faces again. Well, the wait is finally over, and Slipknot have returned to prove themselves as one of the genre’s most dominant contenders.
“.5: The Gray Chapter” as the band’s first new release in nearly six years, maintains more of a throwback than Ninetendo’s Kirby swallowing a metal record. HOWEVER, this record is not regurgitation in the slightest, bringing us 14 new tracks that are heavier than a brick in a dishwasher. “XIX” and “Sarcastrophe” provide an awesome contrast to spark off the album, leading from an eerie, strangely poetic build up into a full on explosion sound of the return of our favourite masked metal band. The new drummer, whoever he is (probably Jay Weinberg but we’ll never know…) has evidently been put through a trial by fire that would make Satan look cute’n’cuddley, mirroring the underlying chugging riff perfectly. Giant necked beast of a frontman Corey Taylor rounds off the ensemble, reaping his lungs for any amount of oxygen that he can muster to scream “WE ARE KILLED GODS!” like some kind of heavy metal Dementor.
“AOV” brings a groove that would make you think that Earth, Wind and Fire had been possessed. Once again drum fills from the “Nameless Drummer” (*cough* Jay Weinberg *cough*) and our first instance of clean vocals (yheyyy my favourite) result in a track more rounded than Fabricio Werdum’s muay thai skills. Lead single “The Devil in I” is a thunderous anthem that I’m pretty sure most fans will know the words to now, as well as some including some pretty epic blast-beats. It’s chopping riffs like these, as well as those heard on “Skeptic” and the frenzied dingo of a track that is “Custer” that display a full range of the riffing prowess possessed by bearded guitar giants (seriously, they’re both over 6’4) Jim Root and Mick Thomson. They’ve clearly taken Slipknot back to their visceral origins, churning out riffs and leads more aggressive than the Incredible Hulk’s weight training regiment, as seen on second single “The Negative One.”
“.5: The Gray Chapter” is not without it’s moments of relaxing groove and soothing restraint (otherwise I’m pretty sure that most listeners would be foaming at the mouth by the end of the record’s first half!). The march-like pump and siren punctuated bass groove provided by the “Unknown Bassist” (hint – it’s Alessandro Venturella) and the ambient guitar leads of “Goodbye” display that clearly, The ‘Knot are far more versatile than the unrelenting goblin cynics of the metal world seem to think they are.
Overall, “.5: The Gray Chapter” is a record that Slipknot needs to release, and one that the metal world needs to hear. It captures the image of a band who have been through the most painful four years of their career and have finally been able to vent those frustrations through one hell of an awesome metal record…in short…this is what made Slipknot, Slipknot in the first place. Whether you’re a n00b to The ‘Knot or have been Maggot for life, you will enjoy this record. Now if you’ll join me in welcoming back a band that the metal world have missed more than television has missed Breaking Bad. In the great words of Corey Taylor “ONE MORE TIME MOTHERFUCKER!!!!”
I’m giving “.5: The Gray Chapter” a rating of:
“.5: The Gray Chapter” – 8.5/10
“.5: The Gray Chapter” is out NOW via Roadrunner