Review Summary: A welcome return to form for the Iowa nine-piece, 'Vol 3…' explores new-found dimensions without compromising the primal aggression that the band have become so established for expressing. Certainly a worthy introduction to the band.
Having already shocked and shattered music's collective consciousness with their extreme brand of nu-metal showcased on their first two albums, after a brief hiatus and a black clad generation's wide-eyed anticipation, come 2004 metal's nine masked men Slipknot release their 3rd album.
Introductory track 'Prelude 3.0' begins with dark electronics and eerie clean guitars, and whilst it's immediately evident Slipknot have matured in many ways, this haunting prelude lacks none of the indomitable spirit that defines Slipknot. Any doubts as to Slipknot's new musical direction are rectified as the heaviness hits you with the 'Blister Exists'; distinctly less adolescent in nature than their earlier material, the aggression is focused as opposed to chaotic, having shed nu-metal cliches in favour of crushing groove inflected metal, Slipknot now bearing more sonic similarities to Roadrunner label-mates Sepultura and Machine Head than to contemporaries Korn and Limp Bizkit. Whilst some may consider having two percussionists additional to a drummer superfluous, Slipknot make full use of Shawn 'Clown' Crahan and Chris Fehn's talents with the militaristic snares of the song's outro. Slipknot may have matured, but they are from tamed. 'Three Nil' continues in a similar vein, with resident sticksman Joey Jordison's blast beats and complex fills proving why he's the crème de la crème of heavy metal drummers. Slickly produced (Rick Rubin was behind the desk for this album) as it is mosh-pit friendly, 'Three Nil' exudes enough groove and melody amongst the frenzy to appeal to any modern metal fan.
The intro of 'Duality' allows for a quick breather before bursting back into the metal fray. An obvious single (the first released from the album) the sing-along chorus in no way negates the nine-piece's power with its radio-friendly brutality. The sweep-picking and elaborate solo-esque sections of guitarists Mick Thomson and Jim Root featured in 'Opium of the People' prove that Slipknot have more than a few tricks up their (boiler suit) sleeves; this combined with Corey Taylor's melodic vocals in the chorus remind one that Slipknot are far more than the sum of the masks and shock value that defined them previously, and this track is testament the band can really hold their own as musicians and writers. 'Circle' breaks away from the brutality, introducing solemn percussion and acoustic guitars. Backed by keys and samples, frontman Corey Taylor's heartfelt baritone is hard to attach to his masked and confrontational persona. Certainly a leap from the common man's image of what Slipknot represent, and they pull off this experimental number with unexpected ease.
'Welcome' kicks one back into more familiar heavy territory, but it is 'Vermillion' that serves as a truly provoking highlight. A chillingly twisted 'love' song, this number sees Slipknot take their metal formula to new dimensions, lyrically and musically, as they take a traditional song structure to sinister extremes, replete with a distinctly melodic sensibility previously lacking in Slipknot's musical vocabulary. 'Pulse of the Maggots', an anthemic riff-fest dedicated to Slipknot's disturbingly loyal and rabid fan base comes next, however this is topped in the crowd-pleasing stakes by 'Before I Forget', an unrelenting headbanger which is as suited for the radio as it is the mosh-pit. 'Vermillion Vol. 2' follows, an acoustic appropriation of its heavy counterpart, showcasing the masked outfit's dare I say…sensitive side. 'The Nameless' and 'The Virus of Life' are deserving of the album but hardly groundbreaking, whereas 'Danger (Keep Away)' brings the album full-circle, mirroring the LP's intro with its insular and electronic/ambient nature.
A welcome return to form for the Iowa nine-piece, 'Vol 3…' explores new-found dimensions without compromising the primal aggression that the band have become so established for expressing. Certainly a worthy introduction to the band if there ever was one, and a must for the modern metal fan.
Stand out tracks; 'Prelude 3.0', 'Duality', 'Vermillion', 'Before I Forget'