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.