Album Review: Slipknot – .5: The Gray Chapter

I’m not going to lie to you, when this album was announced I screamed like a three-year-old girl who’d just been given a pony. There was a point around 2 years ago when it was reasonable to think we’d never see another Slipknot album, following the tragic death of bassist Paul Gray. And then came the departure of drummer Joey Jordison last year, and it seemed that all hope was, indeed, gone (ladies and gentlemen that was a Slipknot pun).

However, from the creepy, keyboard-heavy dirge of opener ‘XIX’ to the slow burning (but still relentlessly heavy) ‘If Rain Is What You Want’ – it’s clear that Slipknot have not lost their touch. Tracks like ‘Sarcastrophe’, ‘Nomadic’ and ‘Lech’ channel the sheer fury of the self-titled and ‘Iowa’ albums; while ‘Killpop’ and the single ‘The Devil In I’ display a more melodic sensibility, similar to that of ‘Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses’.

But don’t get me wrong, while melodic in some places, this album is absolutely brutal: ‘Skeptic’ gives off a punk vibe, ‘AOV’ hasan almost Slayer-type groove to it, and singles ‘The Negative One’ and ‘Custer’ are pure, classic ‘Knot. Especially with the latter-mentioned including a chant of “CUT! CUT! CUT ME UP!” which is sure to incite some riots when played live.

What really shone through on this album, however, is how much Slipknot sound like a unit again. While ‘All Hope Is Gone’ focussed more on a ‘traditional’ metal band line up, ‘The Gray Chapter’ is riddled with Sid Wilson’s turntables, Craig Wilson’s demented sampling and effects, and Chris Fehn and Clown’s earth shattering percussion. As always, guitarists Mick Thompson and Jim Root (who took on most of the writing duties) give of an incredible display of musicianship, and, in my opinion, Corey Taylor has never sounded better, and his lyrics have never been more brutally honest, taking the listener on an emotional journey through the Hell that the band have been through in the past few years. While the drummer and bassist are still unknown, they gel with the band well, giving a fresh feel to the songs without taking away the classic Slipknot sound.

So, Slipknot have triumphed over adversity, and, both with this album and a sold-out arena tour next year (I got tickets and nearly cried), one thing is very clear: the time of the nine has only just begun.

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