I’m not saying this is the greatest Slipknot album yet…but it kinda is. An album that should not be is now less than 24 hours from being released. Fueled by death and inner turmoil, .5: The Gray Chapter is a fury-filled fuck you to naysayers and a triumphant step forward for the nine.
It’s also a giant fuck you to fired founding member Joey Jordison who many believed was the driving force as far as songwriting was concerned. Just listen to “The Negative One”, Slipknot’s first tease from the album released back in August. Never mind the obvious jab in the song name (“One” was Jordison’s number) all you have to do is take one listen to any of the lyrics within: “I hope you live/To see the day/When your world comes up in flames/And as you die/You see my face/You’re the only one to blame”. And that’s just one refrain. Stylistically this “gift to the fans” showed off strong songwriting with a vicious track that captured the raw ferocity of Slipknot merged with modern technology.
But enough about “The Negative One”. There’s SO much more to talk about.
“XIX” begins as a creepy ode to solidarity which builds and builds and builds into…nothing. And this false start is brilliant because what follows in “Sarcastrophe” is like a nuclear bomb dropping. Remember the first time you heard thrash classics like Master Of Puppets, Ride The Lightning or Kill ‘Em All? Yeah, that’s what it’s like hearing “Sarcastrophe” for the first time. It’s modern thrash but ten times more brutal.
“AOV” is so fucking fast it’s ridiculous. Corey Taylor spews lyrics at such ludicrous speeds which is the case on “Custer”, too, with a chorus that’s destined to be the 21st Century “Surfacing”. Speaking of Taylor, Slipknot’s resident “great big mouth” is on fire here. Easily his best performance on a Slipknot album channeling that raw energy from the early days and the skills he’s honed on later albums and on Stone Sour’s more poppier moments. Whoever is drumming on .5 (Still unconfirmed to be Jay Weinberg) further proves that Jordison was not the be all end all for Slipknot drumming while the rest of the percussion performances here are outstanding as Shawn Crahan and Chris Fehn go for broke, bashing away with feral intensity.
Whereas on some Slipknot albums the consistency from start to finish usually left something to be desired (There were some skippers on each, okay?), .5: The Gray Chapter finally gets it right. It’s an urgency not felt since Slipknot which might also account for the experimentation. There’s profound gothic overtones on “Killpop” and on “Goodbye”, either of which would make for a great MTV Unplugged performance (Can you imagine all of them in their masks on that stage?). Elsewhere, the ‘knot return to familiar ground with “Lech” and “Skeptic” (A love song to fallen brother Paul Gray) which bring forth that Iowa flair. Then there’s the general tone of the album which is creepy, sinister, and downright fucking evil (Have you watched the album teasers or “The Devil In I” vids yet?).
They say absence makes the heart grow fonder or in Slipknot’s case: absence makes the fans grow fucking rabid. With .5:The Gray Chapter, Slipknot is back and ready to reclaim the metal throne so eat it up, maggots. It’s delicious!