Two fantastic albums in a day, today's going great. Modern Slipknot has always been an enigma to me. Sure, I've listened to a lot of songs from that era, but I've never actually sat down to listen to any of their albums past All Hope Is Gone. After checking out the singles in my Slipknot Single Saga, I decided that their 6th studio album We Are Not Your Kind seemed the most interesting. After checking it out, oh boy, there's a lot to talk about here. It's honestly the best Slipknot album since Iowa, and the second best overall Slipknot album in my opinion.
The last Slipknot album I reviewed was Iowa from 2001, so it's worth going over what's changed in the band. Most obviously and sadly, we 3 members of the band have either passed away or left the band, Paul Gray, Joey Jordison, and Chris Fehn. Paul's bass added a lot to the atmosphere and mood of the slower tracks, and Chris Fehn provided fantastic backing vocals. However, the biggest loss here is Joey Jordison, his style of aggressive, blisteringly fast, technical drumming was a defining part of the band, and he will be sorely missed along with Paul Gray, Rest in Peace, brothers. Before things get to dim, let's get to some of the new bandmates. Taking Joey's spot as drummer is Jay Wienberg, and he's a great fit for the band. He has a wild stage persona, and his playing just barely reaches the level of Joey's. Oddly enough, though, this album in particular doesn't show off his skills very well, since a lot of parts, while very technical, are repetitious and reappear in in multiple tracks. There are still some tracks where he really shines, such as Unsainted, Nero Forte, and Solway Firth. He's overall good in his role, but lacking some of the creative flair Joey had in his playing. Micheal Pfaff (Also known by the ridiculous name of Tortilla Man) basically does Chris's job as a backing vocalist and percussionist. While he doesn't reach the same level of throat destroying screams that Chris Fehn did, he does his job pretty damn well, not much else to talk about there. Finally, Alessandro Venturella replaces Paul Gray as bassist, and he's alright as well. He doesn't get quite as many moments where the bass just goes off and does its own thing, but he's basically all you could ask from a bassist.
The band's lineup isn't the only thing that has changed, their style of playing is also fairly unique this time around. There's much more melodic moments, achieved by Corey Taylors vocals. The man's still got it, and while he may not have the same amount of pure rage he did in the old days, he can still yell really daman well. He gets a lot more moments to shine as an actual singer, especially during the choruses of a lot of songs, which usually calm down and allow him to hit you with some softer vocals. The backing vocals on some songs also have this demented choir, it's really cool and adds to the experience immensely. Jim Root and Mick Thompson have changed a bit as guitarists, they play off of each other even better than they did in the first 2 albums, and the guitars are sometimes tuned higher. Finally, Sid and Craig have a lot more reign on sampling, mixing, and keyboards. The creepy samples, atmospheric keyboards, and great mixing greatly help this album's emphasis on atmosphere. While it's not as dark or heavy as Iowa, the album still has its fair share of heavy riffs and dark songs. I've talked long enough about the album on the surface, let's get to the songs.
Insert Coin: Like all the other Slipknot albums, the band begins their album with an atmospheric track that's meant to set the tone of the album. However, in this album and only this album, there are more short interludes such as this scattered throughout the album, and I think they work great. However, I'd say this is the weakest out of all the interludes, as the chiptune bit at the very beginning is kind of jarring, but it gets better as it turns into a transition into . . .
Unsainted: If that opening didn't sell you on the album, I'd assume this song changed your mind, because Unsainted is awesome. This song takes everything I liked from the Gray Chapter songs and only uses the good stuff. The intro is a slow, gradual build up to an awesome breakdown that leads into the first verse. The chorus is a treat too, I'm really a fan of the softer but still energetic choruses, I think they're really cool. There are plenty of other great moments, such as everything past the bridge, and the breakdown, OOOH. There's some technical wishy-washy stuff as that happens which adds to the impact along with just sounding really, really cool. Overall, fantastic first impression.
Birth of the Cruel: When I reviewed all the Slipknot single, I kind of undersold it by passing it off as the weakest single to come out of this album. While I still agree with that statement, my rating was far too low, and I didn't really talk about what I liked about the song. Corey's vocals during the verse grew on me, they're pretty different, but he brings back some great intensity in the chorus, especially during the, "SICK! Sickened, I'm sickening, I'm stricken by the FIST!" Those lines just have such good flow, and I love them. The breakdown's riff is also pretty good, it's just an incredibly solid song as a whole.
Death Because of Death: Like Insert Coin, Death Because of Death is a tonal piece, meant to build the atmosphere, and this is perhaps my favorite one. I think the chanting of, "Death because of death, because of you." is really cool, especially when it cuts off at the end with, "Death because of you." That whispering of "you" gives me chills every time. Not much else to say, honestly.
Nero Forte: This song honestly one of the best metal songs released in the 2010's. I've already sung my praises for this song, so I'll touch on some details I haven't mentioned yet. I really like the verses, while they're pretty standard, there's plenty of moments with Corey's vocals that keep it interesting. The chorus is one of the best in Slipknot's discography, I really like the angelic singing, but Corey yelling alongside it almost makes it feel like there are two forces battling, and I think that's a super cool touch. The bridge brings back the marching snare occasionally, and the breakdown, while not awfully heavy, is insanely catchy. I don't know what more to add, one of Slipknot's best songs overall.
Critical Darling: The hits just keep coming, because Critical Darling is also brilliantly made. The intro is fantastic, the song starts off with some electronic sampling, but then the drums come up, adding to the impact. The guitars finally hit you with one of the greatest riffs in Slipkot history, and probably the most memorable riff of the album aside from Unsainted's intro breakdown. Another great part about this song is the backing vocals, they play off really well off of Corey, for example there's the lyric. "(What goes up?) Another hollow one must come down!" Corey finishes his sentence while also replying to the backing vocals, it took me a while to see it, but it's perfect.
A Liar's Funeral: A Liar's Funeral brings back some of the darkness that was present in Slipknot's previous records with a sinister, heartfelt song. The verses are purely acoustic and calming, but the chorus comes around and Corey hits you with that, "LIAR!", suddenly the song turns delightfully sinister, especially during the second chorus, which is honestly one of the better slow parts of Slipknot's discography. The song, while very slow as I described, is still a great return to the darker side of the band.
Red Flag: I don't have much to say on this one despite it being a really good song. It's an aggressive, heavy Slipknot song, how surprising. I really have basically nothing to say on this one, it's just a really solid song.
What's Next: Out of all the ways I expected these interludes to go, I did not expect straight up elevator/music box music. It's utilized to its fullest potential in the next track, but like the rest of the interludes, I don't have much to say about this one.
Spiders: One of System of a Down's best songs, it's emotional, Serj's vocals are fantastic, and- Wait, wrong band. In all seriousness, Spiders is one of the most unique Slipknot songs, and I still don't know my full feelings on it yet. It's a calmer song, and follows in the footsteps of Dead Memories and Killpop (But it's much better than Killpop and weaker than Dead Memories). The song feels like an evolution of the radio oriented Slipknot song, the chorus especially has this catchy vocal hook that gets stuck in your head. The song does cross the line by actually repeating the song's name, which just kind of borders on cheesy and pretentious. But I dunno, this song is an enigma in the band's discography, and will probably stay that way.
Orphan: Like Red Flag, Orphan is another pulse-pounding, intense song, especially during the opening and verses, which just blast energy into you with heavy riffs and fantastic double bass courtesy of Jay. The chorus is a nice mix between high pitched vocals and Corey's trademark, loud, abrasive vocals. His yells in this song genuinely reach some of the aggressive screams he did in Iowa, and I do not say that lightly. The song is just real good, I am currently smiling and holding a comically large thumbs up.
My Pain: I don't understand why they made both A Liar's Funeral and My Pain, but we get another good Slipknot song, which is good. This one has its flaws, though, it's much too long, very slow, and not the most interesting instrumentally. The song makes up for it in pure atmosphere and Corey's creepy vocals, which make this song worth listening to. I would skip it if I just wanted regular Slipknot songs, but this one is also a pretty good one.
Not Long for This World: While the song starts off about as fast as My Pain did, the track soon shows itself to be another good, albeit somewhat forgettable track to add to this long ass album. It's a nice in between for the aggressive nature of Slipknot and the calmer bits of their music, kind of like the chorus of Orphan. Aside from that, I don't have much to say about it.
Solway Firth: I like how they ended this album with probably the most angry, aggressive track on the album rather than an atmospheric one, it's like the band went in full circle. Anyways, Solway Firth is a song I've already talked about, but it bears repeating, since this is also one of Slipknot's best songs. It's just some juicy Slipknot anger, Corey's vocals really shine here. He has some great moments, such as his growl/screams in the chorus that remind me of Serj Tankian, and his phenomenal delivery of the line, "I know I'll never go home!", it's the only part of the song that shows weakness or guilt, it's really cool. A fantastic way to end this fantastic album.
Hey guys, thanks for reading this one, I'm surprised I was able to chug out two reviews that I'm pretty happy with in a single day, that's cool. That aside, thanks for reading!
|2||Unsainted / 100|
|3||Birth of the Cruel / 100|
|5||Nero Forte / 100|
|6||Critical Darling / 100|
|7||A Liar's Funeral / 100|
|8||Red Flag / 100|
|10||Spiders / 100|
|11||Orphan / 100|
|12||My Pain / 100|
|13||Not Long for This World / 100|
|14||Solway Firth / 100|