Review Summary: Solid album, not perfect, but it has enough about it to carry it through its worst moments
Following the division in the band's fan base following the release of their third studio album, nine-piece band Slipknot endeavored to create an album that would appeal to both the old style and the newer, more experimental side of their music. They aimed to heal the rift in their followers by shifting back toward a more intense and extreme nature for the majority of the album and bringing back more of a nu-metal feel whilst retaining the softer style for a few power ballads.
The result was entitled "All Hope Is Gone" and came off of the back of another of the band's customary hiatuses. It was a twelve song release that finally saw the light of day in 2008. The songs are a diverse bunch to say the least. "Gemetria The Killing Name" and the title track are clear attempts to harken back to their brutal and fast debut; "Sulfur" and "This Cold Black" bring about the dark atmospheric nature of "Iowa"; "Snuff" and "Dead Memories" represent the ballad-sound taken on "Volume 3"; "Psychosocial" shows off the more commercial sound akin to "Before I Forget".
The heavier numbers on here are a massive step up from "Volume 3" and provide the band's best moments. After an introductory track "Gemetria" dives head first into a pool of aggressive riffs and lightning fast drumming. This is also a song with a slightly more interesting structure than the majority of their songs with a slower middle section leading into the heaviest section of the song. "Wherein Lies Continue" is a strong song with some nice lyrics and a really aggrovated nature to it. The weak link in the heavy songs is the closure to the album; the title track. "All Hope Is Gone" has the worst introduction to a Slipknot song in memory. Joey lays down some blast beats whilst the guitarists tremolo pick for the first verse and it feels very loosely fitting; as though the band were merely aiming to play fast.
The songs more reminiscent of the "Iowa" album are more of a mixed bag. "Vendetta" feels like "Left Behind" all over again with some cool riffing and a solid beat that creates a nice groove whilst Corey combines screaming and clean singing. "Sulfur" shows off the drummer's newfound addiction to abusing double bass drumming and also has a great chorus. "Gehenna" sounds somewhat like "Skin Ticket" and takes a while to build up and develop an atmosphere with some quick flurries of heavy music mixed in among the clean vocal segments. Of all the mid-tempo numbers on here it is this one that really shows off how the band has grown as musicians. "This Cold Black", on the other hand, has some tired riffing and one of the worst uses of dual tracked vocals in recent memory.
The power ballads are a decent selection and certainly do a lot to add to the variety on display. "Snuff" has become a set staple for when Corey Taylor plays live solo and is a fan favorite for all the right reasons. This has some beautiful lyrics and a marvelous vocal performance and the jumps from the soft verses to the louder and more aggressive chorus are handled well. "Dead Memories" is a song that had a rather cool video produced for it and sticks out as one of the tracks on here intended to be highly catchy with what could be described as an anthemic chorus designed for a live performance. It is a shame that the instrumentals to this track can not really match up to the vocal performance. The lyrics to this song are fairly well written and this is certainly an area the band has improved upon. Whilst there are certain lines that spring to mind as being unnecessary ("Butchers Hook" and "Vendetta" are the worst), Corey has at least matured with his writing.
On this album Slipknot attempted to further their evolution whilst at the same time they wanted to retain elements of their earliest works. The guitar work over-uses the squealing pinched harmonics ("Dead Memories" is the worst song for this) to less effect than on their third album but it at least adds to the diversity. This album is often ranked as their worst or joint with "Iowa" as the least interesting they have put out but in reality this succeeds where "Iowa" failed. Whereas that album had little variety or flow to it; one can at least say that this flows very well and is a mixed album. The main negative with this is that the harsh vocals are an atrocity. No matter how much the band strives to return to their roots on certain songs their is no getting around how much of a toll the years of demented roars have had a detrimental effect on Corey.
"All Hope Is Gone" is a mixed bag of an album that has a lot to love about it but there are a lot of criticisms that can be made. It is enjoyable due to the fact the choruses are fun and there is a lot of variety and there really is no point in wasting time finger-pointing. If you are a fan of the band or if you want a metal album that has a lot of different styles captured within it that does not mind a commercial bent to it, then listen to this and enjoy it.