With speculation rife and online hearsay perhaps clouding the traditional excitement of new Slipknot music, the reality of ‘.5: The Gray Chapter’, even the given the absence of the once fundamental Paul Gray and Joey Jordison, is an unabashed triumph from the Iowan nine-piece.
Indeed, the primary concerns here (with Taylor and Root at helm, will we be greeted with a Stone Sour diluted pastiche?) are furiously stripped away as the turbo-charged rhythmic clout of ‘Sarcastrophe’ surges out of the gate, Taylor‘s swiveled eyed, serial killer aggression hitting career best form.
From here, the likes of ‘Custer’, with its nightmarish electronic squalling, and ‘AOV’‘s lesson in Slayer-esque extremity, are Slipknot, although not at their most unhinged, but swollen with venom and as pitiless as they are thrilling. Those savvy to the long since streaming ‘The Negative One’ will no doubt find the band as bile flecked and thoroughly unpleasant as we have seen in years.
Melody, as always, plays a decisive role, but any notions of a Taylor/Root hijack sail laughably wide of the mark as, even given the arena-sized choruses of ‘The Devil In I’ or ‘Killpop’, we witness not only less melodic austerity as in ‘Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses)’ or ‘All Hope Is Gone’, but some domineering performances from Sid Wilson and his pyretic scratching, a stridently deranged drumming delivery and Craig Jones‘ ghoulish FX. See ‘Be Prepared For Hell’ for some horrific atmospherics.
‘.5: The Gray Chapter’ may not touch the desperate enmity of Slipknot‘s early landmarks, nor would most expected it to. In truth, this is a fifth full-length which spews back all the emotional turmoil and broken-hearted tribulations the band has of late suffered, and far from the fledgling angst of their past, takes on a realism unknown by many of their peers. Sitting on a backbone of rhythmic filth and coloured with lashing of melancholia, Slipknot in 2014 have lost none of their seething potency.
Written by Tony Bliss (@TBliss88)