Be Prepared For Hell
Slipknot are a band who have delivered a unique edge and broken boundaries ever since their self titled album dropped like a nuclear bomb on the music industry fifteen years ago. Each Slipknot record sounds distinct from the others, capturing exactly the feel within the band at that time. We're now at album number five, and continuing on with this trend, with .5: The Gray Chapter it feels like we have reached the culmination of everything Slipknot have done in the past; blending together the unrivalled aggression from the first two albums with the melodic drive delivered in sections of Vol. 3 and All Hope Is Gone. There were fears that after Jordison left the band, Corey Taylor would lead Slipknot towards becoming Stone Sour mk.2 but this is not the case at all. The band have obviously been through so much in recent years with the passing of Paul Gray and the departure of Joey Jordison, two of the band's primary song writers, so it is testament to them that an album so high in quality could be produced all whilst truly sticking to that Slipknot edge which has made them so big.
The album opens with the intro track XIX which introduces us to the first dose of Craig's effects systems going into overdrive - a phenomenally twisted feature which carries on throughout the record. We then begin to delve into the heart of the album as the savagely heavy Sarcastrophe teases us with a slow brooding intro before absolutely kicking off. If anyone was worried about the drumming duties on this album, just listen to this track and you'll feel a lot better. The aggression continues into AOV before we get to the band's first official single from the record The Devil In I. It doesn't have the same sing-along energy as Duality did ten years ago (what does though?!) but live this one is set to be massive. As you reach about half way through the album it is Corey's vocals which really stand out. They're delivered with an unbelievable intensity by means of a real desperation in his cries.
This is especially the case on the tune Skeptic which is by far the clearest homage to the late Paul Gray as Corey screams "The world will never see another crazy motherfucker like you!" on top of an unbelievably heavy chugging riff a la the Iowa era. The band held nothing back on this track as each member forces through their distinct touch, from the guitars and bass, Sid's turntables and Craig's effects to the eclectic percussion, creating a cacophony of brilliance. This is true of most of the album as the band, in their grief, have been able to reach into the deepest recesses of their artistic talent to produce an album with brilliantly calculated anger, all under the watchful eye of Shawn "Clown" Crahan.
Slipknot are back then and if anyone was worried that they wouldn't be able to deliver on this record they're sorely mistaken. This sits up there with the rest of their back catalogue and is truly an album which grows on you with each listen. Maggots around the world rejoice, the 'Knot have returned, and they've returned to take over once again.