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Slipknot - Topic

Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses Play

Slipknot set out to construct the ultimate metal music flamethrower, ever since their genesis in a Des Moines, IA, basement. But they also deployed an agitprop campaign of masks, smocks, and bar codes that helped scare parents (like good metal should) and transform Slipknot fans into faithful "maggots." The Midwestern origin of all this craziness is genius, as the band's marrow-draining metal and twisted, fibrous mythology is antithetical to the region's milquetoast rep. Still, after the gothic nausea of 2001's Iowa, Slipknot's vitality dissipated in clouds of gaseous hype and individual indulgence. Had they grown fat on their thrones? Probably. But the layoff only makes Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses scream louder. Working with famously bearded helmer Rick Rubin -- aka He Who Smites Bullsh*t -- Slipknot pour the shrill accessibility of their self-titled debut down Iowa's dark sieve, and the result is flinty, angry, and rewardingly restless. Vol. 3 shares its lyrical themes of anger, disaffection, and psychosis with most of Slipknot's nu-metal peers. Lines like "I've screamed until my veins collapsed" and "Push my fingers into my eyes/It's the only thing that slowly stops the ache" (from the otherwise strong "Duality") aren't unique to this cult. But unlike so many, the band's sound rarely disassembles into genre building blocks: riff + glowering vocal + throaty chorus = Ozfest acceptance. What makes Vol. 3 tick is the dedication to making it a Slipknot album, and not just another flashy alt-metal billboard. The seething anger and preoccupation with pain is valid because it's componential to the group's uniquely branded havoc. "Blister Exists," "Three Nil," and "Opium of the People" are all standouts, strafing soft underbellies with rhythmic (occasionally melodic) vocals, stuttering, quadruple-helix percussion, and muted grindcore guitar. Rubin is integral to the album's power -- his cataclysmic vocal filters and arrays of unidentifiable squiggle and squelch unite Vol. 3's various portions in wildly different ways. Just when the meditative "Circles" threatens to keel over from melodrama, in sputters strings of damaged electronics and percussion to lead it into "Welcome," which sounds like Helmet covering Relapse Records' entire catalog at once. Later, another counterpoint is offered, when the swift boot kicks of "Pulse of the Maggots" and "Before I Forget" separate "Vermilion"'s gothic and acoustic parts. Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses doesn't feel like Slipknot's final statement. It's a satisfying, carefully crafted representation of their career to date. But there's a sense that whatever Slipknot do next might be their ultimate broadcast to the faithful. ~ Johnny Loftus, Rovi

All Hope Is Gone Play

There comes a time in every band's life where they take off the masks and grow up -- then again, maybe not, as Slipknot have managed to dig deeper without ever shedding their grotesque veils. They're still wearing disguises but they have shed producer Rick Rubin, the metal legend who produced 2004's Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses, giving the nonet just the slightest hint of broader horizons beyond their relentless aggression -- not enough for the band to crossover, but perhaps enough to earn grudging respect from listeners outside of metalheads. Of course, such respect is hardly granted to bands that wear monster maggot masks, so Slipknot's retreat to ugliness on their fourth album -- a move telegraphed heavily by the cheery title All Hope Is Gone -- isn't entirely surprising, nor is it unwelcome as this isn't a regression, it's more or less a consolidation of strengths. Certainly, the album gets off to a throttling start with "Gematria," a cluster of cacophony and for the longest time on All Hope it seems as if Slipknot will never let up on this pressure, as this is an onslaught of densely dark intricate riffs. So effective is this onslaught that when things do get a little softer a little later on, the album threatens to collapse like a soufflé, but that's only because the slower moments emphasize the group's odd tendency to sound like anonymous active rock when they untwist their rhythms and lay off on the double bass drums. Nowhere is this latent tendency for macho schmaltz more evident than on "Snuff," a stab at a power ballad that sounds disarmingly close to Nickelback, a bewildering incongruity that feels even stranger given the album's otherwise merciless attack. One more power ballad like this would be enough to derail the album, turning it into the crossover Vol. 3 never was despite Rubin's flourishes, but All Hope Is Gone as a whole winds up being as bleak and unforgiving as its title. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi

Slipknot Play

These nine Midwestern boys (all from Des Moines, IA) perform wearing orange industrial coveralls with UPC symbols on the front; each bandmember is identified by a number, which is painted on the sleeve of his coveralls. Each also wears a really nasty-looking mask. Judging from their appearance and from the sound of their debut album, it's easy to assume that they're upset about something. What it is exactly is kind of hard to tell, since the stuttering roar of Number 8's vocals is barely discernible through the jackhammer death metal drums, massed guitars, horror-show samples, and jittery turntable scratches that pummel the listener through almost every song. You thought Limp Bizkit was hard? They're the Osmonds. These guys are something else entirely. And it's pretty impressive. Although those lyrics that are discernible are not generally quotable on a family website, suffice it to say that the members of Slipknot are not impressed with their fathers, their hometown, or most anything else. "Surfacing" starts out by cursing pretty much everything generally, and then it starts getting aggressive, as shrieking guitar feedback alternates with DJ scratching. "Spit It Out" is speed rap-metal with an actual melody in the chorus; "Scissors" ends the program with a sound that quite simply couldn't get any more aggro without falling apart entirely, and by the end, the singer actually sounds like he's about to burst into tears. An auspicious debut. [Slipknot reissued their eponymous debut in 2009 to mark the record's 10th anniversary. The special edition CD/DVD featured the original album in its' entirety, as well as numerous bonus cuts, demos, remixes and a full length concert DVD from 2000 bolstered by a 50-minute documentary.] ~ Rick Anderson, Rovi

Spit It Out Play

This import single features the title track, but the live tracks -- "Surfacing" and "Wait and Bleed" -- make it worth seeking out for diehards. In addition, the single also features a CD-ROM video for "Spit It Out," another welcome addition. ~ Jason Birchmeier, Rovi

Iowa Play

After a couple years of relentless touring in support of their self-titled breakthrough album, Slipknot regrouped to record Iowa, an ode to their home state that consolidates and punctuates everything that had garnered the band its cultish following. The monstrous guitar crunch, the concrete-dense rhythmic foundation, the frenzied singing, and the overall madcap fashion of it all -- Slipknot's trademark sound is very much at the forefront of this dark, dark album and is presented in epic form on the extended, album-closing title track, which brings to mind Children of the Corn-type terrors. Though not quite as commercially viable as the more straightforward Slipknot album, Iowa is a more interesting listen, one that envelopes you in its American Gothic shadow and leaves you feeling unsettled afterward. It's really all you could ask for in a Slipknot album, and then some -- perhaps some more than you'd like, in fact, if you're not part of the cult. ~ Jason Birchmeier, Rovi

Mate. Feed. Kill. Repeat Play

Before Slipknot signed with Roadrunner and became one of the industry's surprise successes during the late-'90s/early-2000s heavy metal renaissance, they recorded this somewhat forgotten eight-song, 50-minute LP. Originally released on Halloween 1996, the Lincoln, NE-based indie outpost -ismist Recordings picked up the album for distribution in summer 1997, eventually leading to Roadrunner's discovery of the eclectic metal group and their slow rise to infamy. Though not nearly as accomplished or realized as the group's self-titled 1999 album, Mate. Feed. Kill. Repeat remains an impressive listen, even if the formative group is still struggling to find a patented aesthetic. The eight songs all share some consistent qualities -- most noticeably the heavily detuned, near death metal guitar tone, along with a knack for progressive song structures -- but the group manages to integrate a healthy sense of variety across the album. As they would go on to do more successfully on their self-titled album, Slipknot hosts a myriad of vocal styles here, from sketchy rapping to grindcore-esque growling, and even some labored singing. Even more impressive, though, is the group's emphasis on non-traditional songwriting -- they stray far away from a verse-chorus-verse approach, instead instilling a meandering quality that often makes the songs feel like medleys. This is perhaps best exemplified on the 20-minute "Killers Are Quiet," a song that moves through ambient-industrial segments to lugging, riff-laden instrumental segments to traditional vocal-driven moments. Anyone new to Slipknot should surely look to their Roadrunner debut first, but if you like what you heard there and want some more, or if you're curious about the band's inventive beginnings, search out this early release -- you won't be disappointed. ~ Jason Birchmeier, Rovi

Antennas to Hell: The Best of Slipknot Play

One part savage metal and one part macabre sideshow nightmare (but in a good way), Slipknot have made a career out of their larger-than-life, kitchen-sink approach to, well, everything. Offering an overview of the Iowa band's wild ride, best-of compilation Antennas to Hell provides listeners with the opportunity to dive headfirst into the weird, dark world Slipknot have created for themselves. Spanning four studio albums, as well as a track from the Resident Evil soundtrack and a pair of live cuts from their Disasterpieces album, the compilation covers a lot of ground, giving an all-inclusive look at the 13 years since the band came storming out of the Midwest with its double-platinum, self-titled debut in 1999. As a bonus, the compilation also includes a second disc featuring Slipknot's live performance from the 2009 Download Festival, which was originally released as a part of the video album (sic)nesses. Being able to hear the band both in the studio and on the stage makes Antennas to Hell a great jumping-off point for new fans looking to get the full sonic experience in one package, but the lack of real rarities might make longtime fans pause before diving in. ~ Gregory Heaney, Rovi
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