Friday, 10 October 2008

Music Review - Slipknot: All Hope Is Gone

I prefer not to write reviews of new albums. Most albums that I like today are the ones that have grown upon me and, if I think about it, most of these were hated during early listens. So this is a change of trend considering Slipknot only released this album less than a couple months ago. But during this period I'd travelled a lot and therefore the CD had the chance to spin numerous times in my discman(No, I dont own an iPod, thanks for asking. Yeah, you didnt ask). So the point was that I had a number of spins to bring myself to a less rushed conclusion. I've still got the CD in my backpack where it would stay for a while, after which it will go sit with my other CDs in a crate. How often I would dust it off and throw it back in my bag remains to be seen. But their last album, Vol 3: The Subliminal Verses, has done that bit of shuttling around more times than the masked metallers change song pace in this new album of theirs.

But this LP, at that, is nothing like V3: TSV. With Slipknot, its not just the masks that are evolving. Its the music. In recent interviews more than one member has stressed the fact that there is more to Slipknot than just music. They have evolved from almost Nu-Metal-ish shock band to something more brutal to something more controlled & brutal to something else. That something else needs to be defined by the listener. Sometimes they are moving in the direction you've wanted them to, and then they surprise you, take a u-turn and move away from you. This is exactly why the band has earned massive numbers of fans as well as haters. What Slipknot is trying to do is not tread into the paths that you want them to but ride a pack onto unique paths that they've just laid. Some follow, some might jump off. With their previous opus, there were more people that jumped on than off. Reason 1- Guitar solos; 2- Joey Jordison. The latter has become an indispensable and defining part of the crew in recent years that even haters of the band cant brush off the skills the man brings to the table. The former has given the band a more meaningful heaviness to their brand of music and has attracted some people that had earlier wrote them off as mere nu-metal gimmicks with masks.

.execute - If you were expecting something in the vein of previous intros like Prelude, this is nothing like that. In a bad way. The jokes are easy. Bad execution. If you are listening to it on headphones take this as a warning. This is migraine inducing.

Gematria(The Killing Name) - 20 seconds into the song and you will immediately forgive them for the torture the intro was. Good chugs and riffs and some good drumming which makes it sound more like thrash metal and less like normal Slipknot. The lyrics didnt matter much, but Slipknot is hinting at changes already.

Sulfer - One thing Slipknot has always reveled at was proper songwriting and choruses. A pretty good example would be this song. Joey Jordison drums all the way to hell and back on this track. Definitely a good track.

Psychosocial - Back to thrash metal elements. This is a song were Slipknot actually started making use of all its extra members. There is good guitar work and Corey Taylor brings some versatility to his usual screams with a sung hook. The song to watch out for on their tours. So far so good.

Dead Memories - This is when the problems start. This is in no way a bad song. But it doesnt belong anywhere here. Maybe Corey mixed up writings for Stone Sour or something. That is probably where this belongs.

Vendetta - Back to heavy. This is not usual Slipknot either. Check out the death metal influences. Throughout the album, excellent drumming can be seen as a constant theme and that includes this one.

Butcher's Hook - This is like one of them early era Slipknot tracks, super angry, explicit but with their new found noise control and good use of the guitar and good use of their extra 2 percussionists. The team work factor is actually paying off very well.

Gehenna - This song could be a hit or miss. It has both the softer and darker elements of the band on it. There is some singing, roaring. Some admittedly good soloing towards the middle. It sounds like one of them epic songs that a band would play live after a couple mosh heavy songs, just so the fans could take a breath or go buy a couple beers.

The Cold Black - This is another vintage multi rhythmic brutal Slipknot. But with the added bonuses of some actually good riffing and solos sprinkled in. Picture Korn when they were good.

Wherein Lies Continue - Yet another heavy track. Nothing new otherwise. Slipknot does actually try to send some messages through this album.

Snuff - Acoustic Slipknot with some actual singing. This is actually one of the less heavy tracks on the album. The lyrics are actually audible this time and it disappoints as it treads the cheesy grounds. With an evolving sound one would wish for some evolving theme to your lines, Corey!

All Hope Is Gone - Noisy, screamy with lots of clanging. This is back to V3 era Slipknot in a good way. I wish they had more guitar solos towards the end. But its a strong finale nevertheless.

There were lots of press about how the band has internal conflicts(which has been the flesh of rumours throughout their career). But listening to this album and experiencing how effectively they team up and work off of each other, you'd think all those press shiz is Borat. The album is rather a strong offering from the 9 piece. Slipknot has picked up the good bits from their previous offerings and abandoned some bad bits that attracted the most hate and as such would easily please a current fan. The good songs here are really good, the others are not necessarily bad but may not belong or is not compatible with the Slipknot image, but its still worthy of appreciation given the fact that they were bold enough to experiment. Haters have lesser reasons to hate them now but fans have all the reasons to smile their way to the store and back. The hope is not gone. Buy.

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