Slipknot - We Are Not Your Kind
Aug 8, 2019 (updated Aug 8, 2019)
The first of the four major metal releases over the next couple of months: Slipknot come back after five years of no new music. This band is not usually seen in a positive light by music listeners. Most people group them together with a lot of other nu-metal outfits who most only listen to in their angsty teenage phase, and are usually seen as embarrassing to listen to. However, I'll be the first to say that I'm actually a fan of these guys. While they've never made the greatest music, and it is more times than not edgy, but, Jesus, those first few albums are so much fun to listen to! With that said, though, I do have to admit that when the album was initially announced back in October with the non-album single All Out Life, I wasn't too thrilled. Slipknot are a group that felt like they were losing their charm with every new release. When they burst through the scene in 1999, they released one of the most brutal, disturbing, and intense albums you can find in nu-metal. They continued this sound over into their sophomore project, Iowa. These first two albums are easily their best, and I doubt you can find anyone who will argue against this. These two albums really showed us what these nine guys in masks could do, and the aesthetic of their music fit their performance. Personally, I do think that their self-titled debut is better than their higher regarded follow-up, but either way, they're both great outings. Then their first major drop in quality came in The Subliminal Verses, but even with this release, it was still a good album. It was clear that frontman Corey Taylor wanted to take the band in a new direction - a more melodic form of nu-metal, closer to what he has done with his other band, Stone Sour. While I do think that this decision would later cause the groups' decline in quality, its use in Vol. 3 did honestly result in some of the bands best work. But with their fourth release, All Hope Is Gone... well, the title of the album says it all. All hope I had for the band ended at that point. To put it bluntly, the album is boring and forgettable. It's an album that you can listen to maybe two or three times and then never have the motivation to return again. But it did bring one of their biggest songs, so for that I forgive it. What I don't forgive is the follow-up to that album - The Grey Chapter. That album was terrible, and that alone made me never want to hear anything new they would put out again. The poppier sound they went for sounded awful and destroyed the songs on that record, including some of the singles, which are surprisingly highly regarded by Slipknot fans.

So when All Out Life dropped in October, I wasn't excited to listen to it at all. But I gave it a listen anyway. And a few more. And I was surprised. It was a much needed hopeful return to form, with much more brutal vocals from Corey and more aggressive instrumentation from the rest of the band. While I wasn't the most hyped fan out there, I did think they made something better than 80% of what they had released the previous years. I wouldn't say I was excited for the new album, but I was interested to see where it would go. To many, it was their most hyped up Slipknot album.

And then the unthinkable happened: long-time member Chris Fehn has a falling out with the rest of the members, opens up a lawsuit against them, and expectedly gets kicked out of the band. Like many people, I was extremely worried about how the album would end up. They were clearly far into the production of it, so how would this affect it? Well, a few weeks after this ongoing incident, they release their second single, Unsainted, and it put me at ease. It was a fun song. Although not without its problems, it definitely lived up to Corey's constant promise of "The next album will be just as heavy as Iowa." While not the heaviest song they've ever released, it definitely showed that the sound they were going for in All Out Life was continuing into the album.

Any and all nerves I had about the album were then taken away by the following single, Solway Firth. This song is easily one of the most heavy songs they have released in their career ever. Again, it had its problems - namely the opening minutes being pretty poorly performed vocally - but it was an extremely promising song that further increased the hype. Needless to say, this is the point where We Are Not Your Kind became one of my most anticipated releases of the year.

But then Birth Of The Cruel came out a week before the album dropped. And I grew increasingly nervous again. While not bad at all, it just wasn't anywhere near the quality of the rest of the singles shown. Considering Slipknot are a group where, more times than not, their singles end up being the best on the album, this was not a good sign: that one of their main singles wasn't all that good. But with only a week to go, there wasn't nearly enough time to fully lose all of my hype. So, did this album live up to the hype?

On first listen: no. It was a major disappointment. It just gave me that same feeling All Hope Is Gone gave me - it was fun for the time it was on, but will I really come back to it again? Well, my following listens were the most fruitful. I began to pull things out of the songs, and as I did, the album started to grow on me. The sound of these songs seemed to fit. This honestly feels like their first two albums all over again - the aesthetic fits again!

This is an album that it really is difficult to pick out the best and worst tracks. So, in the critics' defence, I guess you could call it flawless in that sense: all of the songs are consistent in their quality. I mean, it's easy to say that Solway Firth is better than Birth Of The Cruel as singles, but in context to the album? It's damn near impossible. The placing of the songs are perfect, making them all feel like good songs. The only ones I can't really defend are the multiple interludes, as well as My Pain, which is just boring to get through.

But that brings me onto my next point: why did the critics praise this so much? Well, like I already said, the track listing benefits from the placement, but does that warrant the amount of perfect scores this has? No. This is not a perfect album. You could pull little things out of all of these songs, and that would amount to something. Hell, the longest song on the album is dull as fuck. That alone should bring it down one or two points. But even if you take that out of the equation, it's clear that this isn't even Slipknot's best effort. This is still far from the quality of Iowa and Self-Titled. If all your exposure to Slipknot was just the past two or three albums, then maybe you could justify giving this a perfect score, as "They've come so far as a band!", but no. There was a clear decline, and this is them coming back from that. This is them returning to their glory days. This is a hopeful hour of fun metal energy that proves that twenty years into their career, one of the biggest metal acts still working today still have it in them to release one more worthwhile project, and that's We Are Not Your Kind.

Favourite Tracks: Solway Firth; Orphan; Spiders; Red Flag; Not Long For This World; Nero Forte; Unsainted

Least Favourite Tracks: Insert Coin; My Pain; Death Because Of Death

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