Review Summary: Slipknot's posthumous compilation falls just short of being the definitive document about the group, but constitutes a worthy release nonetheless.
The year was 1999 when Slipknot set about reinventing the mainstream rock scene. With their mixture of nu-metal, industrial elements, and a somewhat heavier streak than their competitors, the Iowa nine-piece struck a chord with the twelve-to-eighteen demographic, who saw their frustrations mirrored in the misanthropic angst spewing forth from Corey Taylor's mouth, and found release in the moshtastic riffs and percussive passages of the group's eponymous album.
In subsequent years, the group would build their career on the back of those rabid fans (affectionately dubbed "maggots"), who saw their idols grow and mature along with them, culminating in 2009's decidedly adult All Hope Is Gone
. The death of bassist Paul Gray then cut short what was once again becoming a promising career, with the group deciding to call it a day and honour their bandmate, rather than carry on with someone else.
Cut to 2012. A whole thirteen years have passed since Slipknot
(fifteen since the group's initial demo, Mate, Feed, Kill, Repeat
) and most of the kids who got behind the group back then are now in their mid-20's or 30's. The group has similarly been inactive for a couple of years, and while their songs are fondly remembered, they are beginning to fade into obscurity. The solution for this problem? Simple: to put out a Greatest Hits package and make sure the band's name remains on the public consciousness.
This is the reasoning behind Antennas To Hell
, an album that purports to go beyond the typical Greatest Hits compilation, and delve deeper into the group's career. And while this claim is not entirely true, the package itself is more than enough to please a die-hard maggot, and contains all the Slipknot a casual fan will ever need.
Split into two CD's, totalling over two and a half hours, Antennas To Hell
's main flaw is, in fact, exactly that: this is too much
Slipknot to take in all at once. The option to include a bonus live CD is laudable, but the fact that the concert, while relevant, is not that inspired makes one wonder if this would have been better off as a single-CD package.
Still, for what it is, Antennas To Hell
is quite strong. The first CD, which recaps the band's career in 19 handy cuts, is particularly stellar, containing all of the band's major hits as well as a few surprises, such as Purity
(one of two inevitable, random live inserts) or Snuff
. And while a true fan may have wished for a few more deeper cuts, such as Only One
, the truth is the tracklist here is virtually flawless, presenting a perfect overview of the band's career which will enlighten even the most uninitiated of listeners.
What flaws there are to this first half lie in the infuriating tendency to replace studio cuts with pointless live versions (must EVERY
Greatest Hits album do this?) and on the odd questionable tacklist choice, namely the inclusion of the exceedingly sappy Snuff
. On the flipside, the album helps a song like Vermilion
(Part 1, thankfully, not the turgid Nickelback pastiche that was Part 2) shine in a way the original album couldn't, while making it surprisingly clear how, thirteen years after the fact, the band's earliest hits still remain their strongest. All in all, very little criticism can be directed at this first CD, which does just what a Greatest Hits compilation is supposed to, and does it well.
Would that the second CD were as good. While the gig in question (2009's Download Festival) is definitely a hallmark in the band's career, and while their genuine emotion at headlining the British festival comes through in every word out of Corey Taylor's mouth, the sad truth is that the music itself is unremarkable, never giving off that "live spark" which comes through in the best concert packages. The notable exception is the furious Get This
, which, for two-odd minutes, makes the sparks and the dust fly from Castle Donington all the way to one's eardrums. Once that rare, welcome inclusion is over, however, it is back to business as usual - and while the gig itself is not bad, there is nothing outside of historical relevance to justify its presence here. Perhaps a DVD would have better conveyed the energy Slipknot put into their performances; the aural medium proves, on this occasion, to be sadly inadequate.
Still, it is hard to be harsh to Slipknot and their Antennas To Hell
. The group's intention is commendable, and the package is better put together than most of its genre. However, with a little trimming and a touch more restraint, this compilation could have been the definitive Slipknot document. As it is, it falls just short.
(A three-disc version was also released, containing a DVD with all of the group's music videos).
Vermilion Part 1
Get This (live)