The production is cleaned up in this album, it's even less muddy than it was in any of their previous works, even Vol. 3. However, it makes up for it in being surprisingly heavy. Seriously, not many people talk about how absolute crushing this album is, the loud, abrasive drums and percussion combined with a heavy guitar tone make for some of the band's heaviest work. There are other elements about the album composition-wise that I'll talk about later, but yeah, this album is definitely heavier than the mostly tame Vol. 3. Another thing to note is Corey's vocals, which are fantastic here. While he isn't actually destroying his voice like he did in the first 2 albums, there's much less of that mumble and rasp in his voice this time around. He has some pretty brutal yells in this album actually, some of which I'll point out when I go track by track. I think Joey's drumming is also fantastic here, this may just be because of the album's production, but the drums seem a lot more audible, and Joey plays as well as he has before. There's also more activity here with the samples and synthy stuff, Craig and Sid do good in this album, they add a lot of cool samples and some subtle but cool keyboards into the mix.
Even though every Slipknot album is distinct from each other, the sound of this album, for some reason, is what comes to mind when I think of Slipknot. I think this is the most "Slipknot" sounding album, if that makes sense. Yes, it has some of their most popular and iconic tracks, but the combination of juicy Alternative Metal, elements of Groove and Death metal, and the unique band lineup is all present here, and it sounds very "Slipknot". Speaking of which, even if the band is very much the same, their approach to songwriting changes once again with All Hope Is Gone, both lyrically and composition-wise. The lyrics dip into being somewhat political, most obviously shown by Gematria (The Killing Name), which is literally just a play on the word America. The topics, when they aren't political, seem to dip into lots of different territories, from introspective journeys about love and loss with Snuff, to whatever the hell is going on with Butcher's Hook (Oh boy, we'll get to this song soon.). The songs, at least on average, seem longer than they were in Vol. 3 and their S/T, every track besides the opening is well over 4 minutes. Despite this, the album feels much shorter than Slipknot's other works, despite not being much shorter than Iowa or WANYK. It might just be the fact that the songs are so engaging. There's a lot of groove metal influence in this albums, with the riffs being some of the most complex the band would ever tackle, with plenty of odd time signatures and pitch shifts. Jim Root also incorporates more solos in this album, and while there is one that is just Kerry King-esque wankery, overall, I don't really mind them, and I think they actually add to the track's they're in. The death metal influences are still there with songs like Gematria and the title track, sometimes having legit blast beats, which we'll get to in a little bit. Chris Fehn's backing vocals return, and they play a big part in the atmosphere and heaviness of some songs, his ridiculously brutal yells really add to some of the more intense tracks. Sometimes, the band chimes in as an ensemble, adding some impact to some of the more pounding songs. Let's go track by track now.
.execute.: Oddly enough, this may be my favorite opening to any Slipknot album, except possibly 515. The song is just an assortment chaotic samples and noises, and I love it. Corey delivers a monologue through a distorted voice as a loud, ear-grating sample plays throughout. The song gets more and more intense as it goes on, and I especially like when Joey starts doing random fills, it adds to that unhinged, chaotic feeling.
Gematria (The Killing Name): This song definitely grew on me a ton. Sure, it's a little long, clocking in at 6 minutes, and yes, the societal messaging about America is not exactly subtle, but damn this song is good. There's so many interesting parts about this song, the riff at the beginning with the odd times signatures, Corey's fantastic, angry delivery, the part where everything goes fast and crazy as everybody shouts, oh man, this song's a ton of fun. There's this moment where they end the 2nd chorus faster than usual as Joey plays a cool ass double bass fill, it's just crazy. Slipknot never disappoints with their opening tracks.
Sulfur: I was completely wrong when I reviewed this song in my Slipknot Singles list, I was probably just being a cynical asshole. About the song itself though, it's one of Slipknot's catchiest, well written songs to date. That opening always gives me chills, with the dark guitars, the hammering drums, and that nice sample that leads into Corey's singing. His voice is great in this song, he keeps the verses afloat with his classic heavy vocals, and he's also able to have some of the catchiest vocals of any Slipknot chorus. The solo after the second chorus actually isn't bad, and I know, a Slipknot song with a chorus that isn't ass?! Jokes aside, yeah, I like the solo, it's a nice break after the second solo. The last thing of note about this song is that juicy breakdown, because yeah, it slaps. I am not ashamed to admit my neck hurt after the song was over. What's that? Oh shit, Psychosocial is next!-
Psychosocial: This song is like that one breakfast place you adore. You don't go to it all the time, but when you do, you shit your pants the moment you- That isn't right hold on... I mean uh, Psychosocial is a fantastic song, and I'm not saying anything new. I don't think I've ever heard anybody shit on this song. Even if they think it's overrated, they're usually saying it in a way that isn't actually shitting on the song, they just think other songs deserve the attention, which is fair. About the song itself, what do you expect me to say? It has one of the heaviest, most iconic riffs in Slipknot history, the vocals are great, and the bit after the second chorus where the band screams, "THE LIMITS OF THE DEAD!" is infinitely badass. Every time I listen to this song, I say to myself, "A great time was had by all, I'm pooped." I've been making too many jokes in this review, let's get back to the serious, informative tone of my other reviews.
Dead Memories: Honestly, this is the best "tame" Slipknot song, and is just overall one of my favorite songs by the band to date. While you'd be shut down immediately if you brought up the idea of the song being heavy, it still retains that normal Slipknot sound without the use of acoustic guitars, which I think is great. It adds such a unique atmosphere, Corey's legitimately anguished vocals combined with the odd nature of the composition make this song endlessly entertaining from front to back. Let's delve more into Corey's vocals, because they're truly the best part of the track. He never feels overly dramatic or emotional, he has a perfect level of restraint that makes his vocals convincing. I also really like the subtle change in his voice during the second verse compared to the first one, he seems more disgusted and tortured in the second verse, whereas he just sounds somber and lost in the first verse, it's pretty genius. One of the most clever, tightly written Slipknot songs.
Vendetta: While Vendetta doesn't quite reach the same level as all the tracks before it, it's still fun as hell. Any song that starts off with a drum fill followed by a riff with some death metal influence is always going to be good. Let's reiterate on the words I used to describe this song, "fun as hell". The song isn't at all clever in its lyrics, but it's just a ridiculously fun time, especially when the band chants, "Are you ready for the time of your life?!" I can't take that seriously, but it's just so catchy, so fun, I can't help but just really enjoy this song.
Butcher's Hook: This is one of the songs on this album. Butcher's Hook is honestly one of the most songs I've ever heard, it really goes. It plays out like a song and- NO, NO! Shoo, scram, get outta here! Sorry 'bout that, gremlins started writing my reviews again, but no they're right. Butcher's Hook is perhaps the strangest Slipknot song, period. It has a reputation for being, uh, not good, and I can see why. The instrumentals are perhaps the strangest in the band's entire discography, with repeating guitars that are tuned weirdly and have some of the strangest time signatures I've ever seen. It transitions into a more traditional song during the second half of the verse and the chorus, and the chorus is very, VERY strange. The loud, abrasive vocals are good, but the voice Corey uses afterwards is nothing short of strange. It's not necessarily bad, per say, it just comes off as jarring, especially with how good his clean singing is in other songs. With all that being said, I kind of appreciate the weirdness of this song. I wouldn't say it's anywhere near a masterpiece, but it's a shift in style and tone that's oddly kind of endearing. Oh yeah and the lyrics, uh, they're a tad bit wacky.
Gehenna: I like this song a lot, but why is it 7 minutes long? I feel like this song, before the chorus at least, is an attempt at a slow, dark song, with the legit creepshow synths, Corey's odd vocals and lyrics, and the bassline. For some reason the song explodes at some point during the verse leading to the first chorus, where they go all death metal on you for a couple seconds, which I thought was really cool. The chorus in this song is actually fantastic, the vocals overlapping with each other, Corey's clean vocals leading into the harsh, "I WANT IT!" is really satisfying to listen to.
This Cold Black: This song and the one following are very intense, with some pounding riffs and intense vocals, the vocals do apply here most though. During the very first 20 seconds, the song establishes that it isn't screwing around. During the first verse, 3 different band members chime in with distorted, angry vocals, and it gives the song a really unique feel. The chorus is also raw as hell, it has some dissonance is the riff that's really enjoyable. There's also a solo for some reason after the second chorus, I don't care for it very much, it's short and sounds very Slayer-esque. Some of the lyrics in this song reach the brutality of the band's previous works, such as, "You utter waste of tired flesh," dude, that's so unhinged.
Wherein Lies Continue: I feel like some of these song names are ridiculous and are kind of emblematic of the ones seen in WANYK, like Gematria, Gehenna, and this song. Mini-rant aside, this song is cool because the opening riff is really good, along with the chorus and ending. That opening riff is heavy as hell, just an absolute chugger, if you will. The chorus is great too, it combined some of that intensity of This Cold Black, but also adds some clean vocals near the tail end of the chorus that don't really sound out of place or over the top. The ending is fantastic, the chanting of, "WE HAVE TO SAVE OURSELVES!" provided by the whole band sounds legitimately demonic at points, greatly helped by some subtle distortion in the vocals. I don't like it nearly as much as the other songs, though, but that doesn't mean it's a bad song.
Snuff: I previously ragged on this song for being a slow, acoustic journey despite Dead Memories doing the whole emotional song better, and while I still definitely prefer Dead Memories, Snuff is a great song. Corey's vocals are at their lightest and most clean, and they absolutely carry the song. While the instrumentals are slightly more subtle than in other soft songs, they're still very present. The song gradually gets louder, progressing from only an acoustic guitar to some percussion, then some cool synthy stuff that really adds some emotion to the chorus. It's just a really sweet, somber song.
All Hope Is Gone: I was on something when I gave this track a 70 when I reviewed it as a single, because this song is awesome, and legitimately one of the band's heaviest songs. There's a legit blast beat during the first verse which is always appreciated, and the song progresses really strangely too, it goes like Verse-Verse-Chorus-Solo-Chorus-Bridge-Chorus. While it's definitely unexpected, I think it's one of the coolest parts of the song. That aside, the song is just brilliantly written too, with an absolutely fantastic chorus. The chaotic, deranged yells combined with the banging instrumentals make for one hell of a chorus. There's also a solo that emulates Slayer, where it's just wankery, but I actually think it works to add to the song's noisy, abrasive attitude. The breakdown after the second chorus is unironically in my Top 10 Slipknot Riffs, it's just head boppin' not much more to say. Overall, a brutal, dark, fitting way to end the album.
Thanks to everyone who has supported me and read my reviews! This review ended up being likely my longest one yet, which was completely unintentional, so I suppose I'll pin this until New Years comes around. Have a great night, people!
|2||Gematria (The Killing Name) / 100|
|3||Sulfur / 95|
|4||Psychosocial / 90|
|5||Dead Memories / 100|
|6||Vendetta / 80|
|7||Butcher's Hook / 75|
|8||Gehenna / 85|
|9||This Cold Black / 80|
|10||Wherein Lies Continue / 80|
|11||Snuff / 100|
|12||All Hope Is Gone / 100|