[By Trishul Vikram]
(Listener aggression is advised)
After five long years, Slipknot is finally back.19 years, 9 men, 20 awards including a Grammy and 4 albums on, we have arrived at this moment, the moment where you will have the privilege of listening to their best album – and probably one of the best nu-metal albums ever made. .5: The Gray Chapter is not the Nightmare of Slipknot but it is the Ride The Lightning, and it certainly will take you on a ride.
Here’s the first part a track-by-track review of the album you’re going to be drooling over for the next 6 months:
Ever wanted to time travel? Yeah, never going to happen (not, at least, in the foreseeable future). But then, at least you get to mix robotic errors with kickass bagpipes here, so you got that going for you, which is nice.
A cold winter morning, grey skies and you realize you have crash landed your space shuttle at Stonehenge. Your shuttle is obliterated, you’re perfectly fine. Then you realize, your chest is bleeding. You think it’s over, everything you ever fought for gone, you want it to be over, all you hear is regret, but your mind can’t settle and you hear a voice saying “Walk with me, walk with me.”; and then you wake up.
Ever wondered what a dystopian post-apocalyptic Tibet would look like? Neither have I, but you are going to hear what it sounds like here. Engrossed with the calm and quiet, your meditation is halted with the arrival of Slipknot in a UFO from the future. You open your eyes and you see Corey Taylor grinning and subsequently unleashing a hellstorm through his vocal chords. This is the pinnacle of metal, writing angry, meaningful music. You find your orange robe being lifted off and you see Clown playfully dancing around you with a baseball bat, which he then uses to shatter speech bubbles above your head, the bubbles that have been holding you down ever since you said ‘Ma’. “Live long and die for me!” tells you everything.
This is what plays when you have two souls in your body fighting to be the dominant one. With pure machine gun rage, your first soul is slashing its way through a war being fought with guns and nukes while the second soul flies over the battlefield like an angel, healing and helping consciences resurface. This fight is almost Amon Amarth-esque with Vikings tearing through everything. Your mind will race, your thoughts will fly, until suddenly everything around you just goes into slow motion and you become that angelic soul flying over the bloodshed questioning yourself, thinking it’s finally over. And then you get shot in the wing and you’re flying towards the ground, all while your other soul is laughing and crying at the same time.
Ah, the inner Stone Sour of Slipknot emerges here, with a main riff literally spelling out Stone Sour. Trust me, listen to it. This song is a mere exposé of self-cleansing, with all the members of Slipknot in their All Hope is Gone jumpsuits, executing themselves. Everything this song says is literally about the everyday demons you and I face. Demons that end up making or breaking us. The music video for this one is more than what meets the eye – it could symbolize the death of the ‘old Slipknot’ and the birth of a ‘new Slipknot’, or it could just be a final sendoff for Joey and Paul. I’ll take my chances and say it’s just Slipknot, being Slipknot.
Now Killpop is interesting. Starting off with a pop-ish feel, you’d think that this was you on an LSD trip, until you hear Corey’s “She’s sticking needles in her skin”. From there on everything changes, a heavy back beat with piano overlays, a perfect ballad if you will. And then comes “Lost inside her dirty world, no one hurts this pretty girl but her”, which leads to a very distinct chorus, a chorus even I haven’t heard in the underworld of metal for a long time. It will raise you for a minute and then drop you like a meteor and you will start singing along. Killpop isn’t a concert anthem, but it certainly is a shower anthem. The words in this song are obfuscated well. At a glance you’d think this was about your woman who’s destroying herself, but after maybe your fifth listen you’ll see the difference.
Conventional metal wisdom tells you that every metal song is either about blood, the Dark Lord, deicide, and to some extent killing your mother. This time, however, the tables are turned. You’d never imagine a band like Slipknot writing something like this, but hey, they did it and they nailed it. Skeptic is basically the lyrics of an Ed Sheeran song crying for his imaginary woman plus the magic of Slipknot.
This song is just lunacy. Starting off with a roar, it builds up perfectly to a drop that never hits rock bottom. The music behind it takes you on a road trip, almost like Avenged Sevenfold’s Unbound (The Wild Ride) but with no chance of stopping at all and you are frantically trying to call your loved ones for the last time…trying. Everything suggests the presence of a serial killer in the studio while this was recorded – it’s like they were rushing to finish the song to the amusement of the guy pointing a gun at Clown’s head and telling him to laugh. The lyrics are just everywhere and frankly I think this is the result of combining the leftovers of their intellectual puke from this album. Or then again, it could just be the brilliance of Slipknot. Oh wait, it is.
With the evolution of the great human race to the point that one mistakes the sound of robots copulating as music (yes Dubstep,you) it has become customary that every album includes at least one song that will make you cry. With a heavy drum beat overlaying a very melancholic setting, you see yourself kneeling beside your best friend, gasping for air while all you can do is just hold his hand and feed him false hope. At this time you decide to confess and tell him everything you should have years ago. As you say goodbye, you begin to time travel with him and reminisce all the beautiful memories you both shared. The drumming that precedes this is exceptional, simplicity at its best with every hit, ever so spot on, and then comes a mini guitar solo that throws you to the other side of the spectrum which continues on to Nomadic. Slipknot is one of those few bands out there who know how to make a song so profound musically and lyrically to get nominated for the ‘Best Hardcore Metal Blast Your Brains Out Award’.
As much as I would like to believe this has a completely different meaning behind it, I cannot dismiss how much this reminds me of Paul. Rest in peace mate, we miss you.
To read more about the rest of the tracks on this album, be sure to check up on the next instalment, ‘.5: The Gray Chapter – Album Review (Part II)’, coming soon.
They made us wait five years for this, five years of nail biting and skin tearing, five years well spent.
I am not an expert on metal nor Slipknot but I do have to take daily doses of each to keep my addiction under control. But if you wish to call me one after you have read my review, here’s where you can find me, Facebook.