Most metalheads don't take too kindly to the genre nu metal. It isn't a style that is often associated with "thinking outside the box" musically. Bands like Slipknot and Korn crafted a unique style and successfully made names for themselves by manipulating their distinctive sounds. Slipknot did it with their self-titled Slipknot
and then did it again with the follow-up IOWA
. But this time around, they emerged with something completely new. Elements never seen before with the likes of Slipknot are used, and used well. Suddenly they bring their usual fast, crushing riffs, but they are accompanied by unusual melodic moments, acoustic interludes, shredding guitar solos, a range of vocal styles, electronic effects, and anything else you may think of. This is not the Slipknot people have known from before. This is a completely new Slipknot, one that seems to be unlimited by creative boundaries and only seems to have just begun on a new path in music.
If youíre new shocked from the first seconds of the album, then have a few listens of their past albums to compare. Itís evident from the very beginning how much theyíve grown. Prelude 3.0
is an introduction to a whole new band and effectively sets the stage for the album. Corey Taylor seems to have taken some vocal lessons from his time with Stone Sour, because now heís utilizing clean vocals like never before. Part way into The Blister Exists
he hits us with an epic melodic section that is both unexpected and impressive. His voice flows and forms the basis for the first single, Duality
, and throws the listener all over the place on The Nameless
However, the vocals are only the tip of the ice burg. The guitar playing is impressive on any level, extreme metal or not. The ceremonial heavy-as-hell power chording is here in excess, but has plenty of sweet lead work to balance it out. The into to Opium of the People
is the albumís first introduction to the newfound playing of Mick and Jim and tears on relentlessly for the rest of the album. The solos in songs such as Welcome
, or even more so, Pulse of the Maggots
, could put Yngwie to shame. Mick and Jim are some intense shredders, but unfortunately they use it very sparingly throughout the album. For the first time in their career, acoustic guitars are used in various instances. While Circle
is a soft track laden with emotion that doesnít quite fit the album, Vermillion Pt.2
is a somber rehash of one of the bandís best songs, and is almost the anthem for the new-age Slipknot.
It is clear that Vol.3
was the bandís first true team effort. The general consensus was that the five core musicians (guitar, bass, drums, vocals) played the music while the others (Shawn, Craig, Chris, Sid) would merely act obnoxious on stage. This is certainly not this case this time around, for the entire band is utilized. I canít recall a single instance of Paulís bass coming through the mix, but he clearly plays a big part in songs including Circle
and The Virus of Life
. Percussions are used crushingly on Duality
and The Blister Exists
adding a deep pounding line to the songs. Their greatest asset in this collaboration is the use of electronic effects. Sid and Craig worked wonders on tracks such as Three Nil
and the eerie ambient tracks The Virus of Life
and Danger Ė Keep Away
. Working separately, the band seems somewhat uncoordinated and meaningless. But all together, they are an unstoppable force.
The second disc of the album is somewhat of a mixed bag. The B-sides included were quality tracks the deserved to be added to the album. Donít Get Close
is a great track to headbang to as the drums fade in during the remnants of the first discís ambient songs. The eerie section towards the end is made interesting by the guitar soloing. If you enjoyed the last song, Scream
is even better. Fast riffing highlights a song in the vein of The Blister Exists
. The chorus is indeed a screamfest as Coreyís vocals intensify over the heavy guitar tones. The melodic guitar riffing towards the end accents the song beautifully.
For those who crave more Vermillion
, the band has graced us with a third version, the Terry Date Mix. This is almost identical to Vermillion Pt.1
, only with some added effects and various vocal/instrument level edits. Itís still a good song, but overall not worth the disc switch. Similarly, they have given us a second Danger Ė Keep Away
, this time the full-length, unedited version. This song is the epitome of weird. It begins sounding like an African chant and has some very unusual ambient effects behind altered vocals. At 1:30 the section heard on the first disc begins, this time with some guitar effects that did not appear originally. It appears to fade in and out of the disc 1 version and the new material, making this song completely unpredictable. The vocals are a mystery to me, because this does not sound at all like Corey. As Joey pounds away with a drum solo, Corey whines in the background as the mystery vocalist talks normally, producing a frightening effect. For all eight minutes this song is weird beyond belief and words cannot explain. The only way to get the real effect is to listen. As it goes on it becomes a slightly more linear song with some sweet, clean instrumentation as Corey actually sings.
And finally, Slipknot included four live tracks. These songs are attention-grabbing to say the least. The production on them causes the band to not blend as well as they do in the studio. The guitars are relatively low in the mix, and are overshadowed by Joeyís drumming, which is as good as ever. Coreyís voice is the biggest roadblock in these songs. Listening to them, itís obvious that the mask affects his voice, which I found very interesting. His voice sounds muffled and he doesnít seem to be able to keep his breath like he could in the studio, causing much of his singing to sound choppy. The live version of The Blister Exists
is not nearly as good as the studio version. The same applies to Three Nil
, where it sounds as though Coreyís voice degenerates as the show goes on. The band is solid but the screaming takes a lot of energy out of him.
To finish the album, we have two live versions of IOWA
is easily the best live song of the four. Corey succeeds in getting a reaction out of the crowd and the guitar effects make the band blend much better. Coreyís voice is the sloppiest here, but seems to amplify the intensity of the music. Although I much prefer Vol.3
, I would take this song over the previous two in a heartbeat. Even more of a disappointment was People = Shit
, s track that was my all-time favorite Slipknot song back when they were my favorite band. The production is downright terrible here. Nothing sounds in sync and itís near impossible to follow the music. It clears up once the vocals start, but by then Iím too distracted to care.
To complete a Slipknot trilogy, Vol.3 (The Subliminal Verses)
shows Slipknotís most mature music yet. The music contains more emotion then ever before and the instruments are played with excellent skill. Thought I have learned that I donít care for nu metal at all, I was more than impressed by this. Slipknot is no longer a one-dimensional band; they are a group with many talents and flairs, all contributed by each of the nine members. One can only hope they continue to make music in this style in the future. Enjoy!
A few recommended tracks:
- The Blister Exists
- Vermillion, Pts. 1 and 2
- Before I Forget
- Great musicianship
- Excellent use of unused ideas and variation in songs
- Something completely new
- Not enough soloing
- Some songs still simple and linear