‘Twas the year of 1999, and nu-metal was running rampant. New clones of Korn or the Deftones popped up off the ground like mushrooms, and spread like cancer. Most, if not all, of these bands sucked big time. However, one band showed that there was still some originality left in the US music scene. And surprisingly, they were anything but
a nu-metal band.
Slipknot had started out in 1995, as the brainchild of percussionist Shawn Crahan. In those days, they were a seven-piece outfit and featured a very different formation from the one they have today, including a different singer. This formation released a nearly impossible-to-find demo entitled Mate, Feed, Kill, Repeat
(or if you will, MFKR
) in 1997, which despite showing some promise failed to make a blip in the radar.
Shawn quickly came to the conclusion that the band needed to improve, and the first thing he did was to get rid of half of his musicians, including incredibly sucky vocalist Anders Colsefni, whose main source of lyrical inspiration was videogames. He did, however, retain the services of bassist Paul Gray and amazing drummer Joey Jordison, while at the same time expanding the band through the inclusion of both a DJ and a samples manipulator. Slipknot thus became a nine-piece, an obscenely high number for a music ensemble, particularly a rock band. Not only that, they hid their entire image behind grotesquely deformed masks, and refused to ever show their faces, which contributed to the mistery surrounding them. All that is gone now, of course…*sigh*
In late 1999, the band released what would become their master opus, Slipknot
. This self-titled debut caught the fairly stale music world by storm, with its abrasive mix of frenzied drums, crunchy guitars and claustrophobic samples. This was definitely not
your average tattoo-laden new-metal band. Heck, it wasn’t even a nu-metal band in the first place. What Slipknot do is basically to blend the relentless percussive attack and cutting-edge guitar riffs of death/black metal with atmospheric and sometimes paranoia-inducing samples, creating what I like to call industrial death metal
(copyright BB 2002). This original brand of extreme metal, felt throughout such cuts as Wait and Bleed
, helped establish the band as one of the freshest acts to appear in a long, long time.
There is, however, one factor of contention in Slipknot’s music: Corey Taylor. Some will say he sucks, others that his voice is perfectly suited to the group’s sound. Whatever the case, the truth is he does not write about videogames :D . Instead, he bases his lyrics on personal experiences and shows a clever use of metaphors, although he does rely a little too much on one particular four-letter word. In fact, if there ever was a record that justified the Parental Advisory symbol, this was probably it. However, his lyrics stray somewhat wide of the usual nu-metal clichés, although at times they do veer dangerously close to them.
But Corey isn’t the only good musician on this album. Later on in their career, most of the band members would prove to be multitasking musicians, however, on this album, it’s Joey who really stands out. Amazing
is too weak a word to describe him. Imagine your average blastbeating death metal drummer, then elevate him to the tenth power, and you’ll have Joey. His performance on this album is as varied as it is powerful, and Slipknot’s sound clearly benefits from his presence.
But the real trump here is the songwriting. The same songwriting that would sound so stale on Iowa
and so painfully directionless on Volume 3
really shines on this one, with tracks as furious as they are interesting, and as catchy as they are varied. Songs such as (Sic)
and Only One
are aggressively varied and musically very well-constructed, while Wait and Bleed
or Spit It Out
are more straightforward and insert a few melodic elements into the equation. Sure, with 14 tracks, there’s bound to be a few that don’t really stand out, but in the most part these are good, solid tracks.
Slipknot would slowly deteriorate after the release of this album. Their next outing Iowa
would show a greater inclination towards death metal, without as many of the elements that make their debut so original. As for Volume 3
…well, it’s best we don’t talk about it. However, S-knot’s first opus still stands as one of the quintessential records of the late 90’s and early 2000’s, and should be purchased by anyone who likes their metal solid, varied and aggressive.
Wait And Bleed
Spit It Out