Slipknot have had some serious cobwebs to shake off.
Frontman Corey Taylor has waged his own battles, entrenched in a state of depression that arose from a toxic relationship while the band had found themselves wrapped in their own internal disputes.
Fortunately, Iowa’s finest have a habit of using pent-up angst and aggression as their tools to forge a sharpened array of heavy metal numbers. Their sixth full-length album, We Are Not Your Kind, confidently shoots up to the heights of their famed back-catalogue and there’s no denying that Slipknot are back in full force.
With Jim Root now fully devoted to Slipknot and Fehn’s boots being filled by a mysterious new member to bring havoc on those drums, The Nine returns with fresh masks and all the anger and savagery of an ill-tempered deity. WANYK (an unfortunate acronym it must be said), is a breath of fresh air for us maggots, beyond a few decent singles the masked marauders’ last two records were stained by flat production and rigid song-writing that seemed to only move in one direction. WANYK features some of the bands most memorable material in years including the haunting choir that kickstarts Unsainted, the standout cataclysmic riffs and hooks on both Orphan and Critical Darling or the sinister keys that feature throughout Spiders.
It’s a record that will mash your face in, but carefully ponders about how and when to do so instead of coming at you like a flailing windmill of arms and fists; 2008’s All Hope is Gone being a key offender. This more meditated approach that wraps itself around the various hits on the LP are courtesy of percussionist Shaun ‘Clown’ Crahan, writer of WAYNK’s three interludes.
Percussionist Crahan when speaking to Kerrang! described the album as a masterpiece, and while it’s certainly a great triumph from the band and will help them find footing within the current metal scene, it’s not without its flaws. The two tracks on which the band dive into the experimental, make it plain to see that this is not a well-worn path for them. Spiders does a fantastic job at creating a lingering chill in its twisted form of a nursery rhyme from hell but can’t spin a hook strong enough to hold it together. To make matters worse the track is plagued by an incredibly stilted guitar solo; as if eight hands were trying to play it at once.
The other chip on the otherwise sturdy piece of armour is My Pain, a slow and methodical plod that captures the claustrophobic nature of Taylor’s previous venomous relations and eventual divorce. It’s clear that the track was intended to replicate these pullulating feelings, with the narrative focusing on Taylor being trapped by the mistress of pain, but at six-minutes and forty-eight seconds, it becomes an agonising slog that fails to grip ears or bring any level of excitement.
In spite of this, Corey and co more than makeup for a couple of stumbles. Both in Taylors’s painstakingly human lyricism and the remaining eight members clashing of drums and strings, Slipknot have dug deep to produce some of their darkest material. Juggling themes of depression, victim stigmatisation, claustrophobic relationships and general rage, Taylor puts no filter on his astonishingly volatile performances making it nigh impossible to not perceive his guttural anger. Yet amidst the brutality, the issues are still tackled with maturity and never appear overdone.
But how does it all sound? Bloody brilliant. Each track layered with splashes of electronic mania as Sid Wilson and Craig Jones instils urgency and fear throughout the tracklisting. The production and mixing, meanwhile, keep the band sounding as big and scary as their grotesque masks as every note and syllable fills the space to bursting point. Never does Slipknot sound better than on the juggernaut riffs of Solway Firth or the crowd-pleasing chants on Nero Forte (“THAT’S WHAT YOU DO BEST!”) and such brilliance translates seamlessly to the melodic pop-influenced choruses on Unsainted and Not Long For This World.
WANYK decidedly pulls Slipknot out of obscurity and back into the forefront of modern metal’s most exciting contemporaries, it would’ve been easy for them to pull out something by-the-numbers to get the ball rolling but with WAYNK the ball is already charging. So we can forget the mess of the last 10 years, and look forward to a maggot-infested future as The Nine make history in a salient and explosive comeback.
Words: Alex Mace
All Images courtesy of Clash Magazine