Review Summary: The sound of Slipknot maturing before our very eyes.
Slipknot and I go a long way back. The Iowa nine-piece were basically responsible for bringing me back into the wonderful world of heavy metal, after a few years dwelling in the realm of commercial pop crap. For this, I am forever grateful. Therefore, I stuck with the band through thick and thin, listing their eponymous album as one of my favourite records to this very day. However, there is no denying that both Iowa
and – especially – Vol.3: The Subliminal Verses
were huge disappointments. They each had at least two songs of pure Slipknot artistry, but neither of them was a patch on that marvellous full-length debut. So you can say I was more than a little nervous approaching All Hope Is Gone
Now, and fortunately, all the doubts are dissipated. AHIG
may well be the best Slipknot album since that now-distant self-titled opus.
Slipknot described All Hope Is Gone
as ”the album that shows who we are not only as a band, but as men”
. And in fact, there’s hardly a more appropriate description than that. This is the sound of Slipknot maturing before our very eyes. After having gone through growing pains – the near-separation after Vol.3
, the Des Moines musicians have finally come of age and embraced who they are and what they want to do.
Make no mistake, Slipknot haven’t lost one iota of identity. All the trappings are still here – heavy percussion, growled/sung/shouted vocals and so on. It’s just that the group manage to branch out successfully, venturing into realms such as the instrumental (All Hope Is Gone
– and whod’a thunk we’d see an instrumental on a Slipknot album!?), and the track with clean vocals (Dead Memories
, one of the standouts of this record). Simultaneously, they deliver pure Slipknot-y tracks like Gammatria (The Killing Name
and This Cold Black
But here is where one of the catches of this album lies. On All Hope Is Gone
, Slipknot sound better when they are at their least Slipknotian. Their “typical” sound is sounding a little stale and uninspired. The best moments are those in which they open their sound to Metallica-sounding riffs (Dead Memories
), stoner-rock vocals (Vendetta
) and the death metal blasts of drummer Joey Jordison. In these moments, ‘knot sound like a renewed band and revel in their maturity.
As noted above, Slipknot’s sound today sits in very specific territory. Back in 1999, the band were lumped in with nu-metal, a categorization that made about as much sense with them as it made with the Deftones. What the two bands were doing – without knowing it – was inventing entirely new styles. The Deftones were inventing emocore, while the Iowa men were giving birth to the dreaded metalcore. Nine years later, Slipknot have decided to take their place as elders of the genre, and they have produced a thrashcore album. However, while this is a bit of a shift for Corey and Co, never once during All Hope Is Gone
does it sound like the group is jumping on the bandwagon. Slipknot sound so certain that this is what they want to do, that they will convince even the most reluctant of haters. Basically, what they want to do is mix thrashcore riffs with aggressive vocals, clean stoner-rock choruses, death metal drumming and a healthy Metallica influence that is felt right from the first riff of Gammatria (The Killing Name
. Oh, and solos.
Yes, I know what you’re thinking – “oh no, not those god-damn solos again!” I thought that too, especially after hearing the tacked-on solo on Gammatria (The Killing Name
. “Oh no, Volume 3 Part II
!”, I said to myself. Fortunately, Slipknot proved me wrong on the very next track, and on the remaining ten reinforced that impression. The solos on here are not only quite good – in a “not-really-expecting-much-anyway” sort of way – but they all make sense
. That’s right – no tacked-on, cut-and-paste, because-it’s-METAL solos on this one, folks. Whenever there is a lead on this record, we understand the reason why it is where it is. Not only that, we actually enjoy
And the songs!! Sulphur
is hands-down the best Slipknot song since My Plague
. No, scratch that – since Surfacing
! It’s all that Duality
should have been, with its huge chorus and sung-shouted dichotomy. But surprisingly, there’s another song on this record that nearly tops it – Dead Memories
. This is more of a Stone Sour track than anything else, but by golly if it doesn’t work like a charm. When I heard Corey Taylor go all the way without shouting once, I was like – WOW! Add to that a riff that could have come out of Metallica’s Black Album
and you have the other standout on the album. In the end, you get the impression that Psychosocial
wasn’t really that good a choice for lead single – sure, it’s a decent song, but this album has so much better!
But really, nearly every song here has at least one interesting/attractive moment. Unfortunately, the album falters a bit about halfway through, with the first half not quite reaching the heights of the first few songs. But that’s OK – All Hope Is Gone
works as a whole, and while the first album is still their best, this one at least reassures the most worried fans (like me) that the Iowa nine-piece are alive, kicking and better than ever. Their best album since Slipknot
– ‘nuff said!