Two weeks prior to the 9/11 attacks Slipknot released their second & seminal album Iowa, which like its preceding eponymous debut were written & recorded when the world was in chaos , it spoke to disenchanted youth & the legacy was born. The following 20 years allowed the band to evolve & they released a further 3 long players , but chaos like life tends to repeat its self. Five years after their last release global forces on politics , economics & planetary woes have gifted material for the angry artist. This new age again is a breeding ground of despair, hopelessness & day to day strife & from this Slipknot wrote the material that would become their latest release, “We Are Not Your Kind.”
Slipknot have evolved, there has been tragedy, fall outs, legal action & changes in personnel, but the current line up has grown in ability & honed their craft. There is no doubting that WANYK is a Slipknot album, but what is evident is how mature it is. This is a tremendous record, it isn’t easy listening in places, but there is true musicality & expertise hidden beneath the over laying audio carnage.
Running just over 60 minutes & containing 14 tracks, the two immediate striking elements are the production by Greg Fidelman & how good a vocalist Corey Taylor is when he isn’t screaming his larynx out.
Oddly only the Japanese’s release contains the title track & there is an obvious, if but loose theme, not enough for it to be called a concept, but the writing mirrors Corey Taylor divorce from what he described as a “toxic relationship”.
The album starts with Insert coin , an electronic pulse beat growing for 90 seconds when Taylor says I’m counting all the killers , which leads into Unsainted ,a gentle if not even beautiful choir , quite vocals ,tribal drums then …boom … a typical Slipknot brutal rhythm sonic onslaught. A mosh pit, wall of death classic.
Track 3 Birth of the cruel is more industrial sounding heavy metal with DJ Sid Wilson scratching.
Death because of death is less than two minutes long, more a breathing space between songs than a song in its self , electronic music bites more than instruments and distorted vocals.
Nero Forte is a hybrid, riffy as hell, unhuman vocals spitting out undiscernible lyrics behind a singalong chorus and chanting, if Slipknot tracks came with a bounce factor, this is it.
Critical Darling is a horror film transposed sonically with hints of Pantera, Alice Cooper & System of a Down. It is frenetic, brutal & bruising but also in places gentle, but most of all it is original, if Slipknot were defined by one track off WANYK, this is it.
A Liars funeral starts off all acoustic, Taylor singing with emotion then with a flick of a switch he turns into a demonic feral animal, you can feel the venom & spittle. This is a song written with emotion embedded in pain, he repeats .. burn, burn, burn the liar, then it all back into calmness. A blitzkrieg of a song.
If the faithful were feeling short changed, all is restored with Red flag, as subtle as a shark bite, it’s not a game changer, it could be on any ‘Knots album. It starts, it destroys, it finishes.
Spiders is preceded by a 40 second instrumental entitled What’s next , which is frankly unnecessary as what follows is something else. This is where Corey Taylor sings as if reciting a child’s nursery rhyme with a piano, a hypnotic repeated chorus the spiders come side by side. This is grown up music, well constructed & cleverly delivered.
Orphan is slipknot by numbers, crushing guitars, smashing drums & black lyrics smothered with profanities screamed out in guttural vocals all delivered at speed .
My Pain takes over a minute to get any attention, it doesn’t do much, its Slipknot gone prog, but not in a great way.
Not long for this world is a rock song, it is well constructed & executed but could well be by any one of a number of bands but does demonstrate their diversity in writing and playing.
The album closer is Solway Firth where Taylor sings I’m counting all the killers, the same line to the opener track Insert coin, then madness kicks in to another sense destroying assault. There is so much going on, but none is lost in the chaos, clarity is everything, this is an excellent track closing an excellent album.
The video for Solway Firth features footage from the new Amazon Original series The Boys created with Uproxx and Amazon Prime Video.
The band are now mid to late 40’s , they have grown up musically , they still have a lot to say but now know how better to articulate their emotions, and that they have done with this album. It is the best long player of their career , and possibly their defining moment.
Reviewed by Skid