Ok, im going to get killed for saying this. Im sure the “maggots” will think this is blasphemy, but here I go. Slipknot, from day one, have been a nu-metal band. Yes I know, this comes as a surprise to those of you that havent actually heard a black, death, or thrash metal band before. Ths samples, the lack of guitar solos, the rap type vocals…..equal nu-metal. This album, however, has caught me off guard. I heard Pshychosocial and was Impressed. I heard great riffs, gasp…an acutal guitar solo, and even a Hatebreed type breakdown towards the end of the song. Yes kids, this isnt the usual screaming, random samples, and chugga chugga nu-metal riffs that you have grown to expect from this band. They really made a diverse “metal” album this time. I think these guys have really grown as musicians, and it has finally started to show. If you think im off point, go listen to Nile, Behemoth, Emperor, Kreator..Those are “metal” bands kids..talented bands. Slipknot has now joined their ranks…..
After over 5 million albums sold in the US, Slipknot returns with their most powerfulstatement yet – All Hope Is Gone. Filled with the fury people have come to expect fromSlipknot as well as some extraordinary surprises, this album is the culmination of theband’ s 9 unique members, three platinum albums and their 10 year journey at the topof the Hard Rock genre. Kicked off by the powerful crescendo that is Execute andGematria (The Killing Name) and ending with the blistering track All Hope Is Gone- the album is a cohesive statement about the world today and truly cements theband as one of Rock’ s heavyweights. The lead single Psychosocial will propel the newalbum to match and exceed the success of the last album, Vol 3: Subliminal Verseswhich produced numerous Top 20 songs at Rock radio including a Top 5 track at Active andModern Rock radio.
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This being Slipknot’s 4th album of a career nearing 10 years, they are reaching that point where what they as a band call “progression” runs the risk of being called “selling out” by their fans who loved them from the word “go”. 20 years ago, my friends and I slapped the “sell out” tag on more than a few bands (Metallica being the biggest offender of our youth). So, I have to wonder if this album will be Slipknot’s transition album that leads them to that inevitable fork in the road where they progress beyond their core fans or run the risk of becoming stale. It seems to be a very thin tightrope to walk for every band, especially in the genre metal where fans can turn into foes overnight.
With all of that in mind, I can see the aspects of “All Hope Is Gone” that might make some of Slipknot’s original fans angry or disinterested. Compared to the all-out-fury of “Iowa” or the combination of technical mastery and melodic foreplay of “Volume 3″, “All Hope Is Gone” is often more straight-forward and subdued by comparison. It is fairly evident that Slipknot is focused more on writing songs first rather than taking a multitude of riffs and building a great song around them. In this case, for me, the approach works well.
What I can sympathize with those disenchanted by this album about is that the singles on this album are clear, present and obviously crafted for radio and mainstream exposure. Granted, I think “Psychosocial” is a very powerful song as far as singles are concerned, but some of the softer stuff on this album can get a little too soft at times. At this point, I like most of it, but I can see why others might not.
For those seeking the Slipknot of old, “All Hope Is Gone” is bookended by two mega-tracks that are as brutal and violent as anyone could ever want, especially the finale which is the perfect rallying cry for this time in our history. Much of this album is still very good, but I do wish they would have explored more of the technical aspects of the last album, as things get to be a tad formulaic at times.
Personally, I think “All Hope Is Gone” meets most of the expectations and anticipation that has heaped upon this album prior to its release. I think that in time, a good amount of people that are initially turned off by this album will find plenty to like about it.
Apparently some people think Slipknot went way wrong with this, but I just don’t see it. This definitely is Slipknot, perhaps at its best. They decided to go with more of a death metal rhythm, but they also used a softer voice more often than before. Overall, I think it works out to the same level of their other albums – Great.
You know exactly the album I’m talking about. The one that all bands who last longer than one or two albums go through. The one that signals a kind of change, possibly. But also one that does something as old as time itself: divides fans, but also attracts new fans, like me.
While I share a similar taste in music, Slipknot hasn’t always been for me. A lot of people like their thrash songs, whereas I need a bit more diversity. And so while I’ve listened to their previous albums, enjoyed particular songs, I’ve never had the patience to listen to a whole album. Until now.
All Hope is Gone feels, in some ways, a culmination of everything that’s come before; the sometimes melodic nature of Subliminal Verses, the pounding nature of their earlier work in Iowa, with, yes, maybe a smidgen of Stone Sour on the side. The thing is, when Slipknot isn’t trying to pound you silly with their music for a dozen or so songs, they can be quite enjoyable.
For me, All Hope is Gone picks up right as “Psychosocial” comes into play. This song, the album version which rocks so much more than the “radio-friendly” version released as a single, exemplifies their nature perfectly: precision trash metal, with an actual melodic hook and a melody that carries through.
But the diversity continues, with “Gehenna” verging into atmospheric territories that sounds reminiscient of a heavier/more technical Korn. And “Vendetta”’s rousing anthem chant of “Are you ready for the time of your life,” answered by shouts…perfect live material at shows. Then, of course, there’s the Slipknot ballad (how surprising is that?) “Snuff,” the song which will invariably have critics calling it a Stone Sour song with heavier drumming.
Don’t get me wrong; there’s still plenty of thrash songs with the barking vocals and the precision drumming, pounding submission into your head. It’s just that there’s more here than that. This is the first Slipknot album in which I believe Slipknot has found their niche. They’ve found a way of distancing themselves from similar acts that stretches beyond wearing masks (which, as an aside, are much better than their previous ones).
So we come full circle. This album will possibly be a divisive one for some fans. But I believe it shows growth, maturity and a willingness to look beyond one song played twelve different ways. Your appreciation may very, but I like this new Slipknot.
Songs to listen to:
“Gematria (The Killing Name)”
“This Cold Black”
Updated on 12/27 with a slightly more objective comments.
Disclaimer: If you are a music fan whose listens to a particular genre (i.e., metal ) you are going to feel disappointed. Specifically, if you are one of the Slipknot fans who consider Iowa to be Slipknot’s best album you will definitely hate this one. However, if you like rock music in general (For example, I listen to anything from Radiohead to Slayer) then you will really appreciate this album.
Although I’m hard pressed not to pick sides and choose a favorite album, I can say that I’ve been listening to this album as much as I did with their self-titled debut (the one that made me a Slipknot fan to begin with). Everyone has different musical preferences and tastes, so I can understand why people who predominantly listen to “metal” would prefer Iowa (given that it’s currently the band’s heaviest release). Given that I listen to a much more larger scope of music genres, I found Iowa to be be on the one-dimensional side. To the dislike of many fans, with Vol. 3, the band made a drastic change in their music, incorporating solos, adding more melodic choruses, and varying the tempo of the music in the whole album and within songs. At the time of its release I was a bit shocked at the new direction of the band. However, now I understand that it was all part of the natural evolution of the band and a stepping stone to All Hope is Gone. With the new album, Slipknot has been able to capture the best elements of all their previous albums while maintaining flow/structure through all the songs. They have continue to expand their sound and grow musically, which any music fan in general should greatly appreciate.