There are very few bands in the world of heavy metal that are quite as polarizing as SLIPKNOT. Since the release of their self-titled debut 15 years ago, their unique approach has netted them a rabidly obsessive and ever-growing fan base. However, their detractors can be equally as aggressive. Regardless of where you fall though, you can’t deny the band’s staying power and ability to evolve and adapt as their career has gone on.
This week, they have finally released their highly anticipated fifth album .5: The Gray Chapter via Roadrunner Records. Unfortunately, the road to its release has been incredibly rocky due to the 2010 death of bassist Paul Gray and the 2013 departure of drummer and fan favorite Joey Jordison. Despite these hardships and armed with a new mystery bassist and drummer, the band has unleashed their most ambitious record yet. Unfortunately for them, ambition doesn’t always mean quality.
I know this sounds kind of obvious, but I really think that Gray Chapter is an album that panders specifically to SLIPKNOT fans. If you aren’t really on board with their style, there’s not much here that you’ll find very appealing. I will say it does seem to be a lot heavier than their last release All Hope Is Gone though. While that one focused more on catchy hooks and choruses, Gray Chapter is tuned in a bit more towards SLIPKNOT’S primal and violent side. On tracks like “The Negative One”, “Custer”, “Sarcastrophe” and, “Skeptic” among a few others, their approach is incredibly heavy and awesome. Actually, almost all of the tracks on this album have some very heavy moments, which is again, awesome.
The things about the record that make it NOT awesome, however, are Corey Taylor’s preposterous singing and the weak production. Though the album has a typical glossy production value, it is still one of the biggest culprits on the LP. The guitar tone is incredibly lacking and flat at times, the drums sound fake and almost programmed and the mix of the whole thing is just very weak. In addition to the production, I think Corey Taylor really butchers things up quite a bit. His clean vocals range from cheesy and emo to douchey, generic radio rock and his aggro bro-raps are just abysmal. Also, what’s up with all those stupid “in studio” clips at the beginnings and ends of songs and all of the stupid unnecessary noise going on in the background?
Overall, I don’t think SLIPKNOT made a truly terrible record. I mean, I think it’s great that they are trying to get more aggressive and heavy. However, I really feel that they still missed the mark pretty hard. The album is way too long and Taylor’s vocals and the bad production really ruin it for me in places, yet there are parts on here that absolutely rule. If you’re an overweight, pimply-faced 12 year old mad at your parents and Math teacher, this will no doubt be your Album of the Year. If you’re a normal adult however, there’s much better metal out there that’s way more worth your time.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “The Negative One”, “Custer”, “Sarcastrophe”
WRITTEN BY JOHNNY RINGÖ