One of the most heralded, adored and worshipped metal acts the world has ever seen; a band so uniquely identifiable in the mainstream that even your mum and dad probably know who they are; nine men, all wearing Halloween masks, boiler suits, and given a number between #0 and #8; a band so big, they have their own metal festival; tortured screams, shredding riffs until they shred skin, and beating the absolute shit out of some silver kegs – of all bands, Slipknot need no introductions.
The Iowa based nine-piece have been ripping up the metal industry for over twenty years and are still going supremely strong in 2019. Their discography speaks for itself, consistently releasing records and tracks that demonstrate their sheer brutality alongside an inventiveness that always seems to toy with what heavy music can do, even when things aren’t looking up for the group. Their image is usually the first impression people get of the outfit, with the horror-esque aesthetic proving a staple of the band’s identity, while the music more than justifies their dramatic get-up.
Their journey started back in Des Moines, where, after stints in various metal bands around the area’s scene, the group formed to released ‘Mate. Feed. Kill. Repeat.’– a record that the band have since tried to rid their name of, with the record sharing many unpolished versions of tracks found on their later self-titled record, which by comparison was far more accomplished. For continuity’s sake, and for the fact the band don’t even acknowledge this one’s existence, we’ll just go ahead and join them in pretending the later ‘Slipknot’ is their genuine debut – and damn, what an entrance.
Having joined Roadrunner Records in 1998, the following year saw them release their aforementioned self-titled record, drawing in almighty high acclaim for its malice and originality, displaying their now signature blend of the brutal heavy metal alongside hip-hop textures. Such was the album’s success; it was certified platinum in 2000, and sure as hell holds up as a classic in the scene to this day.
After such an emphatic breakout, the band’s next album was one that was being heavily monitored by fans and critics. ‘Iowa’ took what the group had moulded on ‘Slipknot’ and made it bigger, better and (somehow) even more intense. Everything feels like its unchained, gnawed itself off the leash it was restrained on, broken free and ready to rip everything to shreds.
With attention growing at an almighty pace, the band’s next album kept the momentum going, with ‘Vol. 3. Subliminal Verses’ proving to be another clinical cut in their discography. After three incredibly solid releases, Slipknot were at their commercial peak, even gaining mainstream attention for tracks like ‘Duality’ and ‘Before I Forget’, tracks that combined their usual heavy flair with more melodic, amped-up choruses.
Following their third album, it would prove to be another four years until ‘All Hope Is Gone’ was dropped, and unfortunately, much has been made about the band’s state at that time, with the group’s members were massively disjointed, and even stating multiple times since that the record wasn’t reflective of their best work. That said, singles like ‘Dead Memories’, ‘Snuff’, and the seemingly immortal ‘Psychosocial’ provided moments of genuine Slipknot quality. Even so, Slipknot were such a big name in the world of rock music by this point that ‘All Hope Is Gone’ was still able to reach number one on the Billboard 200 Album Chart.
In 2010, the devastating news broke that bassist Paul Grayhad been found dead in his hotel in Iowa, having accidently overdosed on morphine and fentanyl. Understandably, the band took some time to come to terms with his tragic passing, and for a while, the band’s future was up in the air, before their touring schedule resumed over a year later. After a year or so, the band began to gradually tour again before forming their now-annual event, Knotfest– a heavy music festival held in their home state of Iowa.
Before the release of ‘.5: The Grey Chapter’, Joey Jordison– the band’s standout drummer and founding member of the group – declared he was leaving the band due to illness, which came as a shock and a shame to fans worldwide. Despite that, the band’s next record came out four years after Gray’s death and served as Slipknot’s ode to their late friend and bandmate, blending together the chaotic anger and energy of ‘Iowa’ with the more melodic balance of ‘Vol. 3. Subliminal Verses’. It’s a frantic release, yet still has time for touching poignant moments of reflection like “the world will never see another crazy mother fucker like you” on ‘Skeptic’, or ‘Goodbye’s dramatic shift in tone, “recogni[sing] a moment of sadness”. After the fallout of ‘All Hope Is Gone’, this was the perfect musical return for the band, barring the dreadful circumstances.
In 2019, the band are preparing to release their 6th record, ‘We Are Not Your Kind’, with early signs from the blistering ‘Unsainted’ giving fans much to get excited about. But even just a brief gloss over the band’s history shows their impact on the world of metal – how they’ve become a staple household name and the face of metal, a name that’s associated with the heaviest of music available – and they’ve earnt such an accolade.
Check out our playlist below, compiled with what we think are some of the best Slipknot tracks in the band’s catalogue, both for newcomers to the band and already firmly established fans.
TOP 3 ALBUMS:
Below is our choice of the most accessible Slipknot records. With such a choice of acclaimed, lauded, stylistically evolved music, it may be a tough choice to know where to begin. Leave it to us to pick the three essential LPs below.
Released: 28th August 2001
This shouldn’t come as a shock to many Slipknot fans. ‘Iowa’ is consistently considered to be the band’s peak musically, and it’s really hard to disagree with such a statement. ‘Slipknot’ was the starting point and showed what the band was capable of; ‘Iowa’ is them putting that carnage into practice. The ravaged snarls and cries of ‘(515)’ is a warning shot to all listening of what is to unfold, before the first ‘real’ song in ‘People = Shit’ is a truly fierce welcome. From there, there’s no drop in intensity or quality – no faults to be found. ‘Eyeless’ with it’s piercing lead guitar is crazed; ‘Disasterpiece’ sees Corey Taylor exorcise severe lyrical demons (“I want to slit your throat and fuck the wound”); ‘My Plague’ draws together bruising riffs with one almighty chorus; and ‘The Heretic Anthem’ is a defiant call to the dark side (“If you’re 555, then I’m 666”). There’s a reason most new music announcements from Slipknot are met by comments hoping for ‘Iowa’ levels of heaviness – the band set a precedent that still reverberates now.
Best tracks: The Heretic Anthem / People = Shit / Left Behind
Released: 29th June 1999
Sometimes overlooked due to the sheer devastation ‘Iowa’ showed following this release, but ‘Slipknot’ is definitely up there with the best of the band’s discography. Tracks like ‘Sic’, ‘Wait and Bleed’, ‘Eyeless’, ‘Surfacing, and ‘Spit It Out’ to name a few announced the band on the metal scene in crushing fashion. Everything feels raw (especially through a modern day listening to the record) and truly disturbed – take the horrifying screams over a looping lead guitar on ‘Tattered and Torn’ for the levels of evil Slipknot were dealing with. ‘Wait and Bleed’ arguably feels a bit ahead of its time, and more in line with later Slipknot found after ‘Iowa’, but looking back – this album is a mark their intent that later manifested itself across an emphatic 20 year period.
Best tracks: Eyeless / Wait and Bleed / Spit It Out
VOL. 3. SUBLIMINAL VERSES
Released: 25th May 2004
The band’s third album was a departure from the madness of the previous two in some senses. There’s still a devilish play on the twisted and strange, but it’s twinned with more memorable choruses, calmer moments, and a bit more development in the songwriting sense. ‘Duality’, arguably Slipknot’s most well-known number, displayed their ability to mix the heaviness and bulging riffs of ‘Iowa’ with a bulky, big-hitting chorus that’s a failsafe for any alternative music channel worldwide, while other single ‘Before I Forget’ ticks all the right boxes as a mainstream metal hit. Still, tracks like ‘The Blister Exists’, ‘Pulse Of The Maggots’and ‘Opium Of The People’ delve into the sacrilegious Slipknot we’d come to love.
Best tracks: Duality / Pulse Of The Maggots / Before I Forget