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  • Writer's pictureGavin Griffiths

Slipknot - The End, So Far REVIEW

Can you imagine SLIPKNOT’s formative years? At a little bar or, club in Des Moines, Iowa...some random local band is booked for a Tuesday night gig to roughly minus 15 people. The organiser sheepishly approaches someone resembling John Wayne Gacey, asking if they are all set...he says “Yeah there are nine of us...”. They organiser does a double take and is like “Wait what?” Clown man laughs and says “Yeah, we’ve got three drummers, though truth be told I play the beer keg with a baseball bat, and one guy wanks off his nose!”

The sound guy reaches for an asthma pump, the organiser, shaking nervously, several shades greyer in the hair from the immediate stress, looks at who he dubs Hellraiser gimp and just goes...” That guy's head is full of nails?! Health and safety will have a nightmare he can’t head-bang! He’s practically a weapon!” ...Clown man can’t promise anything...the organiser quits on the spot, actually finds God. Purely speculation of course, but, not out of the realm of possibility.

I jest of course...let’s be honest, we all know what eventually happened, Slipknot became arguably the biggest modern metal band on the planet. The nine masked metal marauders tore up every rule book; taking the world by storm with such visceral ferocity, combining speed metal, thrash, hip-hop influences and a plethora of further bludgeoning inspirations.

You name it, they’ve achieved it; sold-out arena tours, headlined iconic rock and metal festivals around the world, hell, they have THEIR OWN festival now, cleverly entitled “Knotfest”...and we can’t ignore number one albums. For a band such as Slipknot, looking at them, first and foremost, never mind hearing them, getting a number one album is genuinely impressive, but they’ve just scored their third here in the UK with their latest album “The End, So Far”.

Narrowly beating a dead GEORGE MICHAEL to the top spot, it was and is, apparently, an excuse to get off of ROADRUNNER RECORDS (Allegedly, hence the title) ...even their own guitarist Jim Root claims it was rushed, with a lack of pre-production, resulting in him not being fully satisfied with the record upon release. The question is, if an incomplete Slipknot album can top the charts, how good must it be? That, is what we’re about to find out...

We get things underway here with “Adderall” quite interestingly. Typically taken to control ADHD, allowing people to stay focused, it alludes to Slipknot having tunnel vision writing and recording this album; they can see the end, (Contractually?) they know how to get there, no distractions... job and done. What’s more interesting however, is the tone and style of this track.

Typically, you’d expect Slipknot to start off with their renowned level of vitriolic bombast, but this is surprisingly mellow. The title is quite literal it would seem? After a brief, synth-led intro, we find Corey and co. delivering a very relaxed, almost soulful piece of harmonic, indie/electronica. The vocals are clean and bold, overlaying a simple, rhythmic drum beat with some almost angelic qualities. It could quite easily pass as something, Damon Albarn or Thom Yorke would conjure up, resulting in a legitimately intriguing opener.

Follow up track “The Dying Song (Time To Sing)” is far more familiar, as we get our first dose of Slipknot as we all imagine them; brash, abrasive, aggressive and intense. The distinct percussive onslaught, the riff-work, Corey’s raspy snarls, all enveloping a wonderfully catchy chorus. As a band they’ve always managed to maintain that balance between their heavier, thrashy, metallic instrumentation while being able to incorporate sleek melodies and hooks, and they continue to do it masterfully here; a furious yet fun track this. The rest of the album however, sadly, either feels, formulaic, or, safe...

Lead single “The Chapeltown Rag”, which is and was a website domain name the band bought to tease and promote their new material, ironically, and conceptually takes a jab at modern society and internet culture; the toxicity of the likes of cancel culture, fake news, how dangerous information, or more importantly, misinformation can be etc. Less importance lies with truth or integrity, it’s found in ‘Likes’ and ‘Followers’. Thrashy as ever, past-paced and full of piss and vinegar, this is vintage Slipknot, even down to the very prominent Sid Wilson scratching.

This is notable on the tracks “Yen” and “Heirloom” too. The former, the third and most recent single continues to blend Corey’s harsher, sand-paper coated vocals, and the bands combative instrumental aesthetic, with calmer, more brooding emotive segments. It fluctuates more than the damn exchange rate. One sec... 167 Yen for every 1 British Pound? Fuck me, I’m rich!? The latter has more prominent lead guitar, to the point we get a nice little solo, but it’s a slightly slower track all in all. It’s Sid’s disk jockeying that stands out mostly, as we haven’t heard him so in the thick of it since the band's debut. He’s doing all of the scratching here, seriously Sid I’d go to a clinic, get some ointment, you never know where Kelly’s been! I jest.

Closing track “Finale”, aside from being fitting in titular aspects, capitalises on Corey’s softer vocal abilities and, coupled with its string arrangements, it sounds hauntingly grandiose, yet, passive aggressive, almost pessimistic in tone. These are all our primary positive talking points I’m afraid. “Warranty” provides that classic, almost “Iowa”-esque sound very early on instrumentally, but the chorus, aside from the lyrics being different, nearly copy and pastes “We Are Not Your Kind” in presentation. “Medicine For The Dead” begins with an almost sci-fi-inspired, synth-rich eeriness to it, before we suddenly become TOOL, given the semi-polyrhythmic delivery, while “H377” harks right back to the band's debut yet again, but it doesn’t sound as natural. Corey returns to a lot of rap-like delivery, akin to the self-titled, but it doesn’t flow anywhere as smoothly. It’s quite disjointed at moments, bordering on cringeworthy. Or at the very least uneasy listening, which is a shame, as the guitar work here is wonderfully presented.

Ultimately, while the singles were decent, this album got to the top of the charts, because it’s Slipknot. They’ve reached that level in their career now where, they’re going to do well regardless. It has its moments, sure, but like the last album, the band, with their new members and the past buried with “...The Gray Chapter”, have allowed themselves to try different things. Rushed or not, it’s very clearly a Slipknot album in sound and style, but it’s a mature Slipknot album, from a band whose creative range is forever expanding through their use of melody and song writing. Not their strongest work by any means, but certainly worth a stream.

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