Review Summary: An identity crisis: conflicting maturity with juvenile nu-metal roots
Slipknot has never been the easiest band to like. Under Shawn Crahan’s totalitarian reign there’s been documented questionable decisions such as masked identities, a fanbase referred to as ‘Maggots’ and camel shi
t fragrance. Expectedly, this has all worked against any progression towards maturity. The band cannot be faulted for it- it’s clearly working in their favour- however, .5: The Gray Chapter
feels like a wider symptom of an identity crisis, conflicting maturity with juvenile nu-metal roots.
Context looms high over the shoulder of .5
. Implicit tensions resulting from Paul Gray’s passing, Joey Jordison’s ejection and Jim Root’s departure from Stone Sour have all dogged the album’s release. On a publicity level, it’s going to help rocket the album to the top of the charts, because the songwriting certainly isn’t as focused or attention-grabbing as said headlines. That’s apparent in both of the questionably chosen lead singles. Commercial Stone Sour-isms prevalent on “The Devil In I” are forgivable when aided with a mildly memorable hook, however, the regressive core-chug modified upon standard Slipknot generics that is “The Negative One” prove that songwriting has improved little over 6-years of incubation. The sense of immaturity prevails throughout, with blastbeats and breakdowns awkwardly muscling their way into “Sarcastrophe”, an unsatisfying hate anthem that will likely rally battle cries across high schools globally. It’s not just the musical backdrop that’s disappointing, either; Taylor is hardly Sartre with his existentialist prose, declaring rather crudely (among others), “I know why Judas wept, motherfu
cker!” (“Lech”). Caught somewhere between Stone Sour and Iowa
-era Slipknot, it seems the band aren’t keen on any cohesion, juxtaposing spastic grind (“Nomadic”, “Custer”) with Foo Fighters-aping stadium anthems (“Goodbye”, “The One that Kills the Least”). Make no mistakes, .5
is not a career-encompassing panorama in the ilk of All Hope is Gone
. Rather, it's a difficult gluttony that’s hardly going to satisfy the appetite of every last Maggot on the market.
You can’t deny the cold, hard facts; no matter how flawed, stifled and confused .5
is an album, it’s going to succeed massively. However unsure of whether it’s about getting back to roots or maturation, .5
is one of the most frustrating and inarticulate Slipknot albums yet. Hopefully, 6-years won’t pass before these mistakes manifest themselves further.