Slipknot burst into the world with a spotless three-album run between 1999 and 2004. Albums four and five, while both have their own substance and virtues, emerged from different parts of the Slipknot psyche.
Despite the subject matter of .5: The Gray Chapter it was a success more in terms of polish and professionalism than fire and fury. It is a very fine record in its own right. It’s Slipknot, despite the lazy comparisons to Corey Taylor’s other band.
The new album is We Are Not Your Kind. It makes the two that came before it sound limp. It’s spiteful. It’s angry. From first to last it’s spat out through teeth gritted with rage.
And it’s completely and utterly fucking scintillating.
‘Insert Coin’ takes the first steps in a real adventure of a record, paving the way for the outrageously brilliant first single, ‘Unsainted’, and the infectious retro Slipknot headshot that is ‘Birth Of The Cruel’.
‘Nero Forte’ is the song of the year so far by a country mile and it would be surprising to see it surpassed.
Where a band finds that kind of vitality twenty years after their major label debut is beyond me, though every one of those years is evident in the song’s craft.
It is in some aspects the perfect Slipknot song. It has riffing and groove for days and one of the best choruses the band has ever produced, a juxtaposition of Taylor in fearsome form and faux-sweet backing vocals that add a dimension never before heard from the ‘knot.
‘Critical Darling’ is next and superbly roots the same ethic in the band’s 2004 sound, albeit with Taylor’s staccato delivery originating from before even that.
‘Red Flag’ does a similar job, existing somewhere sonically between Iowa and Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses) but also packing one of the best breakdown riffs Slipknot have ever conjured up.Embed from Getty Images
‘A Liar’s Funeral’ – the slow one, basically – has rightly been praised in review after review. As windows into Taylor’s soul go it’s a terrific example, laced with doom, and endlessly dark and threatening.
Two very different songs – ‘Spiders’ and ‘My Pain’ – cover all the experimental creepiness bases to make the second half of the album rather more odd and unsettling than the first, in the best way.
They alternate with ‘Orphan’ and ‘Not Long For This World’ which keep the stomp moving, the emotions flowing and the standard high before the colossal ‘Solway Firth’ closes the album in epic fashion.
It’s a miserable yet irresistible closing track. The riffs are glorious, Taylor sounds angry as shit and the whole vibe of the song is confrontational, unorthodox and aggressive. But it’s also sharp and smart, as if the band that showed up all those years ago is all grown up, two decades on.
And then there’s the heartbreaking closing lyric, which rounds off a terrific album in a thought-provoking, vulnerable release before ‘Insert Coin’ gets one final nod in the very last seconds.
Thanks to the methods of production We Are Not Your Kind is a full-band effort of the very highest quality.
Taylor sounds incredible. Mick Thomson and Jim Root are on fire, as is the band’s extended rhythm section of Jay Weinberg, Alessandro Venturella and Shawn Crahan.
#0 and #5 are in their element. The contributions of Sid Wilson and Craig Jones are magnificent, lending the album a grim, frantic energy and atmosphere by the truckload.
The result is a triumph. In my opinion Slipknot had room to grow back into their groove after their last album but I wouldn’t have said anything as fundamental as a return to form was required.
They did it anyway. We Are Not Your Kind is stunning.
We Are Not Your Kind is out now on Roadrunner Records.