Slipknot – .5: The Scary Skeleton Chapter
[Joe Note: Did Lamb of God design this image, Jimmy??]
I like Slipknot. In high school I thought their self-titled was a game-changer. In college I purchased IOWA on the day of release and struggled to like it as much as the first one (side note: in the IOWA booklet it says that the numerical value of PI equals 22/7… this is not correct). After college I purchased Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses and to this day I still consider it to be in the top 20 metal albums of all time (I remember a feature article in Rolling Stone in which Corey Taylor admitted that Vol. 3 would be Pink Floyd-ish in nature…he wasn’t entirely incorrect). During my first post-college job, I gave All Hope Is Gone an honest listen and found it to be Stone Sour; three good songs, the rest were pure toilet fodder.
I want to review this album as a Slipknot “fan”, or at least somebody who still respects their back catalog, regardless of relevancy. If we can all agree on one thing, it’s that every individual member of Slipknot (guitars, bass, drums, vocals) is VERY talented. I don’t care if it hurts you to listen to some of their material, those musicians be talented. Oh yeah, and there are those other guys in the band who do nothing and collect portions of revenue! We won’t talk about them. So Slipknot is here to re-assure the metal world that they’re still amazing and relevant. *Clears throat*, sorry about that. These fellows are older than I am (33). Can they prove to the modern metal world that Slipknot is something that we all desire?
It would be irresponsible of me to stop the review after that last paragraph. So here we go! The album starts off with an intro track – as they cannot do without – and does a good job of showing their lyrical skills “So walk with me… walk with me… don’t let the symbolism kill your heart… walk with me… walk with me… just like we should have done right from the start… walk with me… walk with me… don’t let this fucking world tear you apart”. Dang Corey, this is far beyond the days of old (“If you’re 555, I’m 666! What’s it like to be a heretic?”). Okay after this intro is over, we get…
“Sarcastrophe”! Here we go with the Slipknot of old: blistering thrash-esque riffs, maniacal drumming, blastbeats and percussion guys, anthemic choruses, and a truly tasteful guitar solo. Good bridge, good comedown. This is a SOLID Slipknot track. This might satisfy fans and non-fans alike.
“AOV”: holy heck, that Soilwork riff! The new drummer is good, not Joey Jordison good; but he’ll fit. Man, it feels good to be an old fan of Sli– WHOA, what’s up with this chorus? What does it all mean? “Approaching original violence…” Geez, I thought we quit the All Hope Is Gone Formula; was I wrong? Yes, yes I was. FLUSH.
“The Devil In I” – This is a horrible fucking song with slow, ambient verses and Stone Sour choruses. Aaaaaaaaaaand here’s where I finish with the track-by-track comparison.
The band tries too hard with this album, the angst is COMPLETELY forced with pockets of useless cursing thrown in for teenage measure. But here’s the strangest thing about the album: their ballads (“Killpop”, “Goodbye”, and the first half of “If Rain Is What You Want”) are GREAT. Like Vol. 3 great. So what we have is a disappointing album containing the following: a few fantastically stellar riffs, bass lines, and solos the likes of which we aren’t used to hearing from Slipknot (Listen to the second half of Lech, or the bridges on Custer… these guys do know good metal when they hear it). Could this have been a great album? Yes! Yet somebody decided to snip this album’s balls and destroy everything that could have been beautiful, everything that could have brought us back to high school. Every good, fast-paced Slipknot song gets COAL ROLLED by a sing/songy chorus. I’m glad they’ll make some money off this thing; but these flushers will never know the feel of being a respected metal band.
The album feels manufactured. It’s half “let’s be as angry as we used to be” and half “every song needs a catchy chorus”. It’s not as flush-worthy as a FFDP or Avenged Sevenfold album, yet every now and then I’ll queue up .5: The Scary Skeleton Chapter and find myself banging my head… and hoping that Christian Molenaar doesn’t catch me!
Slipknot – .5: The Scary Skeleton Chapters gets 22/7 or …