Slipknot – [Album]

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Anyone who assumed (and rightly so) that, after five albums (plus one more live offering) and thirteen years of pushing themselves beyond conventionally observed limits of human endurance (the road stories of band members continuing to play after sustaining serious injuries at shows are well-documented), Iowa’s leading musical export would either ease up or attempt a safer musical avenue would be dead wrong. If anything, All Hope Is Gone illustrates the exact opposite; for their sixth studio-recorded album, Slipknot has pared all of the extraneous sonic attributes that appealed to non-metalheads and produced their single most caustic, unrelenting and unabashedly ’metal’ offering to date.

After ramping up with the obligatorily ominous “.execute.,” the band lets every hound it’s harboring off the leash in “Gematria (The Killing Name)” and doesn’t bother to call them off for the duration of the disc’s runtime.

Unlike their earlier releases that did occasionally feature brief interludes of other influence (the band was previously known for jumping from speed metal to hard rock to melodic passages at breakneck, stop-start intervals), this time out Slipknot does not deviate from a harrowing, shred onslaught at any point and, in the process, figures out how to make a classic album. There isn’t a note on this record that even non-fans would argue isn’t anthemic or accessible to them as the band stomps through on monstrous riff after another and singer Corey Taylor seldom dips below a begrudging growl. In their own way, there are tracks that pay direct homage to the gods of classic metal too; “Gematria” simultaneously gets overtly political with some poignant Bush-bashing sentiments and recalls the spirit of “War Pigs” while “Vendetta” updates “For Whom The Bell Tolls” for a new, far more desensitized generation. In each case, the band looks back only far enough to co-opt a classic vibe before grinding it into powder and lacing it into songs that sound unmistakably like Slipknot but the results are ideal; each song both pounds and wows listeners but, better still, each one is distinctly memorable and doesn’t fade into the background.

That framework also allows for other growth and those tracks where the band pushes boundaries are the ones that burn brightest. Just as “Gehenna” builds to a monolithic chug, for example, and Taylor’s low and menacing hiss turns homicidal, without warning something snaps in the song and suddenly everything becomes elongated and overemphasized. It’s only a simple time signature and pitch shift, but it’s a remarkably effective one; everything about the song suddenly becomes otherworldly and terrifying because of it.

While naysayers have always maintained that Slipknot would have to change eventually in order to survive their high-octane delivery, All Hope Is Gone proves that the band didn’t need to change that much in order to find a sound that they’ll be able to sustain as long as they choose. With a little goth and a whole lot of classic metal in them, Slipknot has returned reinvigorated, tighter and harder in a way in a way that they’ll be able to keep presenting without eventually either imploding or devolving into self-parody.


Slipknot – All Hope Is Gone is available now. Buy it on Amazon.

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