THE BACK END

Al­bum, film, game and live reviews from the only peo­ple you can trust.

Blunt - - News - DANIEL FURNARI

One found­ing mem­ber trag­i­cally taken be­fore his time. Another fired un­der mys­te­ri­ous cir­cum­stances. A six- year break since their last al­bum. Safe to say there was no way Slip­knot were not go­ing to have the most ner­vously an­tic­i­pated heavy al­bum of the year, and pos­si­bly the decade.

“I don’t want to get back up, but I have to, so it might as well be to­day,” sings a strained Corey Tay­lor over sparse in­stru­men­ta­tion in the chill­ing open­ing min­utes of “XIX”. It’s a fit­ting in­tro­duc­tion to the sen­ti­ments of an al­bum aching with a con­flict­ing and tor­tured mix of self- pity, mad­ness, grief and to­tal fury. As the track cuts off – de­cay­ing almost in­stantly just after reach­ing an un­bear­able boil­ing point – the real show be­gins.

From there it’s a no- holds- barred adren­a­line-fest in “Sar­cas­tro­phe” and “AOV” – both of which kick in with drum fills that are re­as­sur­ingly in line with the stylings of fired drum­mer Joey Jordi­son. The for­mer, like many of the al­bum’s heav­ier picks, calls upon the band’s sopho­more ef­fort Iowa for its speed and ag­gres­sion. The lat­ter is an early stand­out, with a thrash­ing open­ing that de­scends into a pun­ish­ing half- time bounce with splash­ings of Sepul­tura, all lay­ered with snarling spit­fire vo­cals. It’s truly as­tound­ing how roy­ally pissed off Tay­lor sounds through­out this record. The bass is given a chance to come to promi­nence later in the track ( show­ing that the band is un­afraid to ac­knowl­edge the ele­phant in the room) be­fore the pound­ing re­sumes, cul­mi­nat­ing in lay­ered flour­ishes from the band’s aux­il­iary per­cus­sion duo, who ac­tu­ally fea­ture overtly on this record and add colour­ful chaos in all the right places.

There’s no short­age of vari­a­tion be­tween th­ese 14 tracks ( se­ri­ously, what heavy band still does al­bums that long? Slip­knot, that’s who). There’s a sense that all ideas have been wel­comed dur­ing the writ­ing of this al­bum, whether it’s the night­mar­ish in­ter­lude “Be Pre­pared For Hell” ( heard as though from the mouth of Lu­cifer him­self), the mourn­ful “Goodbye” ( which along with “Skep­tic” ap­pears to pay trib­ute to late bassist Paul Gray), or those afore­men­tioned Iowa mo­ments that we can’t help but keep talk­ing about.

It’s hard to fault this one pro­duc­tion- wise. Achiev­ing a mix that is heavy on drums, guitars and vo­cals yet al­lows enough room for each in­stru­ment to breathe suf­fi­ciently is no small feat in such a big en­sem­ble. The band’s trade­mark raw­ness is bal­anced against the pre­cise de­gree of clar­ity re­quired to bring ev­ery one of Jim Root and Mick Thomp­son’s gui­tar lines to life, with­out sac­ri­fic­ing the en­ergy of feel­ing like you’re in the same room as the band.

Bot­tom line: de­spite the im­mense pres­sure rid­ing on .5: The Gray Chap­ter, this is the sound of a band with noth­ing to lose, un­afraid and unashamed to make a record that is any­thing but safe. It’s 2014 and some­how Slip­knot still want your head on a stake.

ES­SEN­TIAL

TRACK “AOV” – Riff city from

start to f in­ish. Don’t hurt your knuck­les when you punch the near­est

wall.

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