Situated in the attractive Strand gallery just around the corner from Charing Cross Station, photographer Paul Harries' exhibition of Iowan metal legends Slipknot's life as a band from 1999 to the present day is a wonderful showcase of both the triumphant and moving story of one of the most important bands ever to come out of metal and the intricate work of a photographer who is able to capture the band at their most intimate and intriguing.

Spread over two floors, the exhibition portrays many of the band's triumphs and groundbreaking moments. From an incredible rare shot of the nontet's now legendary initial visits to our shores involving turntablist Sid Wilson lighting percussionist Shaun 'Clown' Crahan on fire with a handy bottle of lighter fluid to the dazzling stage-show that accompanied the 2008-2009 'All Hope Is Gone' album touring cycle. It gives unforgettable snapshots of a most unique of bands pushing the boundaries and gradually taking over the world.

The evocation given by the series of portraits equally enables viewers to follow the crazy history of the masked metallers almost chronologically and become truly lost within it as a result. Starting at the undeniably creepy image of the band's first shoot for Kerrang! Magazine back in 1999 within the confines of an Iowan playground complete with original homemade masks, one can then move to a shot of the band crowded into the back of a truck during the 2004 video shoot for their classic single 'Duality', the only area within the real house setting that hadn't been trashed or was in the process of falling apart. It's pure, unbridled and most importantly genuine chaos captured in time and every piece of the puzzle is special for it.

An outstanding piece that poignantly draws one in however is a lone portrait of late and much-missed bassist and key songwriter Paul Gray, all in black and white apart from his striking large brown eyes, a majestic portrait that pays great tribute to the fallen hero. Equally a face-shot of vocalist Corey Taylor, half mask and half skin, is an outstanding work of art that not only metaphorically presents Taylor's sense of dual-personality but also the dual personality of the band as a whole, possessing the ability to present anger and hate in its rawest form while also being able to touch, move and give hope to their audience, something most bands do not have.

We were lucky enough to have a chat with Paul about his exhibition and relationship with the band and gained interesting insights into some of his shots. Here's what he had to say:

R13: To start off, I was downstairs before and noticed the shot of Sid lighting Clown on fire which I'd never seen before and thought it was brilliant, could you give us some background into that shot?
PH: That was on their first proper UK tour in 2000 in Manchester. I was on side of stage and out came the lighter fluid, he just sprayed it up his leg and Clown didn't know until he looked down and saw that he was on fire! They did quite a lot of that stuff.

R13: I also saw your iconic shot of Sid flying in mid-air at the now legendary London Astoria show in 1999, how was it to photograph that?
PH: It was one of the weirdest gigs I've ever been to. There's something about the British that I think really get into the theatre of metal and I think there was a lot of anticipation about that show because we'd done a few things in Kerrang! including a cover feature and I think people were just really excited about it. I don't even think they had a support band that night. I'd seen them before the show and there were so many fans outside wearing masks and everything. I remember waiting in the pit for them to come on and it was just the weirdest atmosphere, I'd never experienced an atmosphere like that at a gig before. It was mass anticipation that something very important was about to happen. And it was indeed something special, it was an incredible show, especially seeing them play that small a venue.

R13: To give a sense of timeline, how was it shooting them throughout the 'Iowa' (2001 sophomore album) years when there were a lot of frayed tensions within the band?
PH: I didn't do very much of them at that time as I was bringing up my family at that point but I hear stories that maybe things were a little bit more fraught than they are now. Of course after 'Iowa' we had Murderdolls, Stone Sour and To My Surprise (the band went on a two year hiatus before regrouping to begin writing for their third album) so the next time I saw them was at the 'Duality' (lead single from third album 'Vol.3: The Subliminal Verses) video shoot which was the launch for that album and that was the first thing they'd done on that album cycle. It was incredible, what a day, it's my favourite song that they've ever done and to have been there for that video is incredible, an amazing experience. I was doing the shot of them in the basement [of the house the video is set in] and I was setting everything up and the ceiling was vibrating so violently that someone came down and said you really don't want to be standing here just in case it collapses so I stood by this supporting pillar and thought if it does come down I'm here and I'll be alright (laughs).

R13: Were you at Sonisphere Knebworth over the weekend (July 8th-10th)?
PH: I wasn't unfortunately due to family commitments but that's one of the reasons I went to Sonisphere Athens (the band's first show back after Gray's death) to photograph the band. I was lucky to get the shot of Sid jumping into the crowd. I was taking pictures of them backstage such as the one when they're walking onstage, so I did that and then ran round to the front of the stage. By the time I'd run round they'd already come onstage and Sid had already come running across the stage, jumped off, all the other photographers being already at the stage and I was still down low, and I went 'oh' and got it, so I was really lucky to get that shot.

R13: During the 'All Hope Is Gone' (2008 fourth album) era, when they brought out the big stage show, such as when they played the Hammersmith Apollo, was that different to shoot or was it still total anarchy?
PH: I think it was a bit more of a slicker show and everything but they were still crazy (laughs). I'd already done a lot of stuff with them in America and Australia before they got here so I'd seen that show quite a lot but it was great and Hammersmith was such a brilliant place to see them. I went one night to shoot it and then I went back the following night with my wife just to watch it.

R13: So out of all the times you've seen them do you have a favourite?
PH: The Astoria show was obviously great because it was such a new thing and there was so much excitement. I'd already seen them a couple of times having shot their first Kerrang! cover but I think that show was when I knew they could back up the masks with the music and the act.

R13: So is 'Vol.3...' your favourite album then?
PH: I think it probably is. I like some of the more melodic tracks they've done such as 'Dead Memories' which I think is an amazing song and I think before Corey (Taylor, vocals) came out with Stone Sour we didn't realise he could sing so well. I mean the first album ('Slipknot', 1999) is amazing obviously but I think 'Volume.3' is probably my favourite.

R13: Did you work at all with Stone Sour and Murderdolls around 2002-2003?
PH: I didn't do much with them on the first cycle but I have done stuff more recently with Stone Sour and the newest incarnation of Murderdolls such as the Stone Sour barbeque shoot for Kerrang! (September 2010) which was a lot of fun.

R13: To finish off, in terms of the band's image what's been your favourite mask, specifically Clown?
PH: Oh definitely the original, so when Clown came back this year wearing a copy of the original mask it was amazing. I think it's the scariest one, I prefer their masks when they've got that homemade feel to them, I think some of the masks that they have had may have been a bit too slick so it's that homemade element that I love, for example, Corey's current mask which I think is just the creepiest thing, it's quite disturbing.

A big thanks to Paul for taking the time to chat to us and be sure to visit his exhibition on 32 John Adam Street just around the corner from London's Charing Cross station but be quick it closes on July 24th so make sure you don't miss out!