by Matt Karpe
– Senior Columnist —
Many bands have their fair share of ups and downs, setbacks and tragedies; and in the six years since All Hope Is Gone, it’s fair to say that Slipknot have certainly been through the ringer.
If the passing of Paul Gray, one of their most influential songwriters wasn’t bad enough, to add to the chaos, in December of last year it was announced that Joey Jordison, one of the founding members of the band was to leave the metal titans in rather acrimonious circumstances.
So take these two vital cogs out of the nine-man machine, it wouldn’t have been a surprise if Slipknot had decided to call it quits and leave behind a colorful yet extremely successful legacy that the Iowan’s had created for themselves.
In a way though, it’s also not a surprise that the band continued on and now with the release of .5: The Gray Chapter, Slipknot have returned to add to their legacy, and let’s be honest, everyone in the rock world are eager to hear what Corey Taylor and Co. have to say.
It was stated that .5 would have a sound somewhere in between Iowa and Vol. 3- The Subliminal Verses, and the band have delivered on that intention, but in an ever evolving world where only the hardcore fans seem to stay true to their rock heroes, is this record good enough to sit beside such monumental records from the nineties when Slipknot was one of the most important bands on the planet?
The formula seems to be the same; devilish guitar work that will haunt your dreams, drumming so heavy that it is almost deafening and the good timing of the turntable sampling that has help set Slipknot apart from the rest.
There are some vintage moments here, like “The Negative One,” which is savage and crushing. With a great chorus that has already dominated radio airwaves, lyrically it appears to be about Jordison, and it’s clear that he didn’t leave on good terms. They may be airing their dirty laundry in public, but this is a cracker of a song and it may become one of the best heavy metal tracks of the year.
“The One That Kills the Least” is a flash from Iowa’s past. With some well-constructed and multi-layer vocals from Taylor, he proves that he still has the heart for a good battle and he is easily one of the best vocalists of the modern era.
“Killpop” is a brilliant turn into melodic rock waters. Much in the same vein as the “Vermilion” double header from Vol. 3, the dark and moody track has an industrial feel from the excellent drumming, made possible by a new member who has yet to be officially named in the new line-up.
The highlight is “Custer” which is a vicious assault on the eardrums. With an expletive filled chorus, this will no doubt go on to become a live favorite and it is also one of the best songs of Slipknot’s whole career.
Unfortunately though, too much of .5 seems to have been played a little safe and predictable. “Skeptic” has a decent chorus but the verses are ineffective and unforgettable. “Nomadic” is hard and heavy but again it lacks that bite that we have come to expect from this ground-breaking band.
“If Rain Is What You Want” closes the album and after a promising start with a hauntingly eerie and delicate number, the thrashy second half leaves an underwhelming feel inside the listener.
Apart from the odd track, there isn’t really anything new that Slipknot have brought to the table, and that is a problem because their sound still seems to be stuck in the early 2000s’.
You have to commend Slipknot for coming back with a new record after such a dark period in their lives, but it’s clear that the two members who have gone are massive losses in the song writing department.
It was a nice tribute to name the record after their fallen brother, and yes there are some good tracks that deserve to be added to Slipknot folklore, but there are simply too many moments of the past which is a shame.
Iowa has always been regarded as the best album, and that title is nowhere near to being taken by .5, but maybe this time, the record can simply be a testament to Slipknot’s passion and commitment to find a light at the end of a very dark tunnel.
Genre: Heavy Metal, Alternative Metal
#0 Sid Wilson- Turntables
#3 Chris Fehn- Percussion
#4 Jim Root- Guitars, Bass
#5 Craig Jones- Sampling, Keyboards
#6 Shawn ‘Clown’ Crahan- Percussion, Backing Vocals
#7 Mick Thompson- Guitars, Bass
# Corey Taylor- Vocals
-Unnamed and unconfirmed- Bass
-Unnamed and unconfirmed- Drums
4. The Devil In I
10. The One That Kills the Least
12. Be Prepared For Hell
13. The Negative One
14. If Rain Is What You Want
Label: Roadrunner Records
Hardrock Haven Rating: 6/10