Review Summary: Slipknot fail where they really shouldn't have
When one puts Slipknot's second (or third, depending on your stance) into context, it really should not be as terrible as it is.
The band, at the time, utterly hated each other. This can be disputed, but it is pointless, as they truly did. Their attention seeking gimmicks were paying off, but at the price of their brotherhood. The band were frequently getting into fights, both on and off stage, all of them drinking heavily, and abusing substances that they should not have been, which would contribute to one of their member's tragic demise, years later. They had so much hatred that they could not expel on their debut album, and so they channeled it into one album full of pure, unadulterated hate. A winning combination, right?
Wrong. From the intro of People = ***, it is clear something is gone from the band. Where there was once real energy and emotion channeled into the band, all that is here is a complete rip off of many other bands. The stomping riff work, the angst-filled but pointless lyrics that have very little of the hate the band really had in them, the unnecessarily fast drumming that is completely out of time with the guitars, the screaming that is so devoid of emotion it is practically unheard of. Everything about this song proved something was missing from the formula that made their debut work so well.
That something was life. The first album had an organic, flowing feel to it that made up for the really poor musical ability. From the beer-keg hitting intro to Prosthetics and the blistering, unrelenting improvised ending to Scissors, and the very pointless introductory track that lead into the insanely heavy opener (sic), Slipknot's debut had some actual energy to it, and at least attempted at times to deviate from what was expected. This is gone on Iowa, which is at times just a bland, irritating racket, and at other times it is nothing more than a ripoff of the first album, with nothing of what made that album so great for its time.
I Am Hated stands out as being the most insulting song on this release. Screamed rapping in the verses, silly lyrics aimed at no-one in particular. Well, what could this song be a rip-off of? Could it possibly be, no way... A second rate clone of Spit It Out minus the very well crafted interlude, the aggressive chorus and the general feel of that song is all that I Am Hated manages to become. This was an example of just plain lazy song writing, which has no place on any album. A second album should progress from the debut, not completely regress and become a weaker version of a song on the album that came before.
This is plain throughout the entire album, with Metabolic feeling like a weaker version of (sic), Disasterpiece having a very Eyeless feel to it, and My Plague even having a lot of Wait And Bleed styling to it. This was nothing more than an attempt to replicate the success of their debut, whilst giving it a darker sound to it, but it was at the expense of the overall integrity and anger that had made their first album what it was.
The actual newer material for this album was the stronger side of it, but still was not flawless. Hit song Left Behind was alright for a few listens, but quickly grows repetitive and boring, despite it being an actual GOOD song, which shows up another bad thing about this album. It truly has little to no replay value in it whatsoever. Stomaching it for one or two listens is fine, but this is all it takes to become bored with it. The songs are so obviously structured and utterly predictable that it tests the listeners patience. If the listener has heard their debut, they know what to expect from this release.
The Shape is another song that has a slightly different feel from their first album, but seems as though it is clutching at straws in trying to create a song that will make the listener relate to it. Everybody has had their darker times, and this is a song that plays off that, however, the lyrics are just dreadfully written. Corey Taylor is not a poet, this is a fact. Throughout much of their discography, he has that annoying tendency that men like John Davies and Devin Townsend are also shamefully a part of to use the F-word a thousand times throughout his albums, and it truly does grow annoying. However, on The Shape, he just generally writes bad lyrics. This is another common denominator for each of the songs. Lines such as "Too F'd to beg", "I want to slit your throat and F the wound", and the immortal "I need a minute to eliminate from everybody everything, Bullsh't". These are utterly unnecessary, and add nothing to the lyrics.
This is an album plagued by so many different factors, that tries to make a darker atmosphere, but fails drastically, as it misses so much of what made their first album so good. Making this album heavier was one of its many failures, along with the poor lyrics, the unintelligent song writing, and the overall formula being too much of a shoddy rip-off of their self titled. Many consider this to be their finest work, i hold a much different opinion. This was the start of a down hill spiral for the band, culminating in their latest release, which will always be the worst album ever recorded, i believe.