Review Summary: Masks and jumpsuits and nu metal, oh my!
It’s unlikely you’ll find many bands who’ve sparked as many differing opinions as Slipknot. On one hand, you’ve got the fans aka “maggots” who damn near worship the band like a collection of delusional Marylin Manson fans. And on the other, you’ve got those who regard the band as either borderline or complete and utter trash. Toss in a few critics paranoid to the point of calling them Satanic and you’re close to the full picture. As a former maggot, it should go without saying that if you talked to me in high school, I’d praise and defend them to no end.
But that was then, this is now.
Even before I came out of my Slipknot fetish I oftentimes found myself in disagreement with others over how I’d regard their releases. And what better way to demonstrate this than with their celebrated self-titled debut? I’ll even occasionally walk up to non-Slipknot fans and they’ll at least give some level of praise to this album. So, how does what many consider to be Slipknot’s finest release hold up after my first listening in years? Surprisingly, it’s a fairly decent mix.
What’s immediately apparent following the precursory track is that the nine boys from Des Moines have no qualms about being vulgar and blunt. What can easily be argued is that this has, from the get-go, been part of the band’s appeal, namely for teens to have something that helps quench their frustrations. Though one could also reason that the music itself is just interestingly fun material to shout, chant and outrage to. For my money at the time, it was simply the anger-releasing tone to the music. The generally thick tuning of the instruments, some unexpected and distorted moments combined with Corey Taylor’s dominant shouting (and occasionally silly rapping) makes for an irresistible mix placed in the ears of the right listener.
Of course, this type of appeal isn’t bound to last as listeners get older and, presumably, expand their tastes. Thus, returning to see how an album like this holds up becomes more of a means to see how good or bad it is with a more neutral standpoint as opposed to commending it for being “loud” and “there for me.” But even without the charm most tracks formerly had, this is still a (mostly) competent album thanks to some interesting enough tracks. Two songs that come to mind in this regard are Prosthetics
. Both take the listener through some rather peculiar mixes and samples with enough of the band’s thrashy nu metal-esque style present to give them a rebellious tone.
Yet the tracks that have endured on most live setlists such as Eyeless
, which show the band in their more familiar territory, don’t hold up quite as well. For instance, even with the easily likeable lyrics in Wait and Bleed
it’s tough to get into a song with Taylor trying to dish out mellow vocals (he can do them well enough, see Bother
by Stone Sour). He just sounds off and it isn’t until the song’s last few seconds when we hear his yelling and singing mixed together that it actually kicks well into gear.
Slipknot’s debut showcases a band that seemed eager to twist and turn things around. Generally, this works to the album’s favor and help it stand out enough from a crowd of cliché nu metal robots. But these aspirations only take the album so far. Ultimately, most of the songs wind up being good enough to warrant the whole album a recommendation (especially with the bonus tracks), but we only get a few tracks that truly stand out. As for other former maggots wondering whether a return is in-order, I see no reason to not come here again for a couple listens.