Review Summary: An overall decent follow up to Slipknot's self-titled debut that shows the band heading into even heavier and darker territory than before. It's a heavy album that you listen to if you are in the right mood.
In 2001, Slipknot were well on their way to becoming one of the most popular metal bands on the planet. their self-titled debut album was an instant hit, and they toured extensively in support of it. They were building a monster fan base and their image was driving everyone crazy (9 band members and crazy masks on every member can catch some attention). Instead of taking a break, the band once again recruited famed producer Ross Robinson and went right back into the studio to record a follow up to their debut.
There was no doubt that expectations were great for this album, as fans everywhere were hungry for more material from the band and the world watched them with much anticipation. However, within the band, things were reaching a bad point. The members were beginning to get very sick and tired of each other and there was much conflict during the album's recording process. Drummer Joey Jordison and Bassist Paul Gray didn't want to stop writing and recording material and wanted to push the band while the others were fighting with each other and their inner demons. Vocalist Corey Taylor was suffering from his drinking problems and many of the members were deep in drug addiction at this time as well. Their combined hatred and anguish matched with the drive of Robinson helped create the darkest and heaviest album of their career.
Musically, this album is similar to their debut but pushed to an even further extreme. The pummeling percussion onslaught created by Shawn "Clown" Crahan, Chris Fehn and mainly Joey Jordison creates a fast and deep background to the heavy crunching guitar riffs of Mick Thomson and Jim Root. No solos are present on this album but slipknot would later explore that territory on their next album's. The album opens with another intro track, (515), which sets the mood for the rest of the record with its static background and continuous screaming. It leads into "People=***", a heavy ferocious track that shows that Slipknot have decided to go even heavier with their musical direction. Its a catchy and relentlessly heavy tune that only gets better when the 5-minute "Disasterpiece" kicks in. It gives enough time for every member to shine in one song, and features the first clean singing vocals by Taylor on the record in the songs bridge. While retaining a great deal of their style that they presented on their debut, they also get a bit more experimental. "Gently" features a bass driven intro and is an interesting listen. Songs like "My Plague" and "Left Behind" are as heavy as ever but also feature some great singing by Taylor that get you singing along and banging your head. The title track is an album highlight for its sheer power. It might seem long, but if you are a fan of the bands music and can bear listening to its 15 minutes it is a real treat. The lyrics are some of Taylor's best on the record and the overall vibe of the song is dark and disturbing. Sid Wilson and Craig Jones provide creepy sampling behind the ambient bass line Paul Gray emits onto the track and the song feels like a dark horror movie by the time Corey finishes the lyrics after screaming like a psychopath into the songs ending as his maniacal laughter fades into the album ending.
Iowa might not have been a huge step forward for Slipknot, but it serves as a good follow up to Slipknot's self-titled debut album. The music is heavier than ever and it sounds like them for sure, but there is not much maturity present for the band on this album. Its a record you put in when you are pissed off and angry, because every song on here sends a message of hatred. It is obvious that this record was difficult for the band to create because of the aggression you can feel throughout it. Their later album's would see them exploring different aspects of their sound and using more clean singing and acoustics, leaving this album to stand as the full potential of their heavy sound with the whole band sounding its best and Corey Taylor's vocals sounding their best in the band's career. If you are a fan of Slipknot or heavy music in general, this album is worth a listen. Some didn't like this album because it was so similar to their debut, but it's a good album to listen to if you are in the mood for it or like the band. Slipknot might not be the greatest metal band in existence, but they are capable of creating some good heavy music, and this album shows it.