Corey Taylor was once quoted as saying that Iowa
was black, dark and depressive, Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses)
was red, romantic and reflective – the question is, what colour is their latest venture, All Hope is Gone
? There are many areas that Iowa’s notorious nu-metal act, Slipknot
have pressed their distinct musicality upon, some have been for the better, and others have been perhaps disastrous. It’s up to you really. They have varied themselves quite a lot since their initial dwellings on the rap/groove metal witnessed in their self-titled debut, which fortunately evolved into something that was rather different from early concepts. Through the side-project Stone Sour
Taylor and fellow guitarist James Root were able express themselves without any strings attached, but here on this album, they have brought the idea of sour stones to the table, and gathered the main ingredients from the other members to create a concoction of typical Slipknot, but with distinct flavours of Taylor and Root’s journeys.
We need to thank producer Rick Rubin for the evolution of Slipknot up to this point. Arguably you’d probably never have seen Root and Mick Thompson engage in dissonant Slayer
-esque solos, and have percussionists Shawn Crahan and Chris Fehn actually make their presence be something other then childish beating away at beer kegs. There are many other things that Vol. 3 offered to the listener that meant Slipknot had something advantageous to work towards for their fourth liberation. Like Vol. 3 (and the others), the album is introduced unnecessarily with “.execute.”
, a heavier and shorter version of “Prelude 3.0”
making use of elevated levels of percussion and inaudible screeches. It morphs quickly into “Gematria (The Killing Name)”
, which will have you looking back to “The Blister Exists’”
thrashy design, and then immediately have you wondering if they’ve just decided to release a producer’s cut of Vol. 3.
, and it’s later title track rerun are no where near as dynamic as earlier Slipknot singles have been, suffering mainly from humdrum attributes, and a failed attempt at previous successful equations. On the other side of the scale, “Dead Memories”
is littered with the undeniable distinction of Taylor’s crooning harmonic vocal style developed through acoustic Stone Sour ballads, but also shows the softer side of the guitarists using ominous reverberating grunge riffs. “Gehenna”
is another location of where the album breaks new ground. It’s similar to Iowa’s diabolical “Skin Ticket”
in terms of haunting aggressive dissonance, but is further made chilling by the usage of UFO-like yodelling samples that eventually bleed gradually into Taylor’s anguished vocals and also the guitars, leading to one of the most interesting outfits to this date.
However like other releases from the group, the preceding hype of the side percussionist’s membership leave you looking for where they are hidden other than brief stints during song introductions. Mostly you’re either trying to decide whether it’s Joey Jordison on his enthusiastically sized drum kit, or if it is actually Crahan and Fehn clowning around (literally) with wooden sticks and metallic cooking utensils. Furthermore, sampler Craig Jones and DJ Sid Wilson only make definable appearance when the rest of the band is in breakdown mode. Sporadically the odd sample or noise scratch surfaces, but still they are mostly left behind the main barrage of pounding chainsaw riffage. Often these side-effects appear to be one of the main substances to makes every Slipknot album complete, or… incomplete
Substance, or lack of is what ultimately boils the album’s better moments. “Butcher’s Hook”
all weevil away at the band’s aggressive rebellion of the world’s problems through unexciting song structures and Taylor’s overloaded lyrical themes based around angst. His lyrical reasoning is usually quite well designed to compliment the rhythm of the music; however his approach here sometimes feels like nothing more then a screaming-yelling-angry-man in a masked suit that leaves the impression that he’d have few better things to say instead of matryism, defiance, rebellion, distrust, frustration, etc, etc, etc. Not only does it become somewhat laughable, it also becomes highly tedious throughout.
Later on this is gratefully remedied in “Snuff”
. While they don’t reinvent the wheel so to speak, they ponder away using some newly acquired instruments to produce one of their best power-ballads to this date that sounds like a classy blend between “Danger - Keep Away”
, “Vermillion Pt. 2”
and Stone Sour’s “Zzyzx Rd.”
. As Taylor describes the dwelling transparency of lovers in demise in a form of escapism, there are hints of vermillion creeping out of edges. This concept is without doubt what gave Vol. 3 a redness, and in turn produced its radical difference from earlier approaches. So the answer to the earlier question is that All Hope is Gone
is a calculated slant towards a blend of black, red and grey, installing bits and pieces used during other albums and bonding them together with a medium that’s ever changing between the evolving ideas of each band member, whether they are distinctly heard or not.
As Iowa is the repercussions of Slipknot (the album), All Hope is Gone is the resonance of the lasting ideas seen in Vol. 3 and Stone Sour’s Come What(ever) May
. It blends the two well, but consequently lacks any major focal point to develop a lasting impression towards. There’s good material if you look for it, but Slipknot generally are a group you want a kick in the teeth from, even if it’s on a softer note.