Review Summary: May I have your attention, please? Will the real Slipknot please stand up?
Arguably the creative peak for the band. Arguably the heaviest and closest representation of what Slipknot is all about. And, arguably, the band’s finest hour for what will now be Slipknot’s illustrious and lucratively successful 23-year career. Iowa
is regarded by many to be the Physical Graffiti
of Slipknot records, a career defining marvel of synergistically channelled negative energy that spawned an entire generation of metal hereafter. In fact, enough of the diplomatic bush beating, I’m going to put myself out on a limb and say this is easily the creative peak for the Iowa nonet. Sure, Vol.3: The Subliminal Verses
is a cornerstone towards musical maturity and songcraft, implementing a much heavier focus on melody and the balancing act of handling their original selling point of self-destruction with shades of accessible leanings – to which it does these things masterfully – but Iowa
is a different kind of beast, and a bolt of lightning in a bottle.
Produced once again by Ross Robinson, there’s two key elements to Iowa
that make it the defining display for the band: the first is Jim Root, who plays a much more hands on role with the album’s songwriting, having only put his two cents into a couple of tracks for the self-titled debut, there’s a tighter connection to the band’s resolve with everything sounding more dangerous and unhinged; the second more obvious assumption, and inarguably essential ingredient, is Slipknot’s mental state at the time of writing. This isn’t something you want to wish onto anybody, but art flourishes most through the tribulations of its creators – something the band had in abundance here, coupled with the horrendous miscommunications of its members. You honestly couldn’t get a track like “Skin Ticket” without the unstable mindset and internal sufferings; it’s an unparralled level of aggression that hasn’t been touched upon since – and probably never will again. I have my criticisms with Corey’s complacent and contrived approaches to Slipknot’s music these days, but back in the day – on this album – he sounds like a possessed madman. The 15-minute avant-garde title-track literally sounds like a monologue of anguished ramblings as Taylor writes off the first thoughts that come to his head, made all the more convincing with disturbing cackles and frustrated shouts as a backdrop of ominous ambience, shrieking female screams, droning guitar fuzz and creeping basslines set the tone for this long-winded, therapeutic cleansing session.
I hate to bash the business heavy ideals of the current Slipknot incarnation, but Iowa
’s convictions shoot the contemporary iteration in the foot. 17 years ago, this wasn’t a band who played it safe and basked in its own success with self-titled festivals and kooky merchandise, this was at a time when happy endings weren’t given out. Iowa
wasn’t an album made for success, it was written in the hope it would rip a hole in the earth and suck them all out into oblivion. The music is furious, a dense explosion and a wall of aggression that, astonishingly, still manages to be somewhat mainstream in its execution. It’s essential listening for any metal fan and retrospectively stands as the most ambitious, heavy and experimental offering in their backlog. The record is also centred around Iowa, the band’s hometown, and uses their experiences living there as the core theme and blueprint; the now iconic, hostile goat image and harsh climate changes of Iowa are used as the bricks and mortar to convey this desolate chaos – and offers as the most cohesive sonic experience to date as a result. Simply put, if you’re looking for an album that hears a group of people spiralling into the mouth of madness, this is it.
FORMAT//EDITIONS: 2-CD 1-DVD
PACKAGING: 8-PANEL DIGI-PAK CASE with various artwork for each panel; nice, but a pretty standard affair. 3.5/5
SPECIAL EDITION: The 10th Anniversary contains a trove of bonus material to tuck into. Disc one has a new mix of “My Plague” which has alterations to Corey’s vocal performance; disc two is a live CD from 2002’s Iowa tour, recorded in London; while disc 3 contains the cherry on the cake with a documentary and music videos. 5/5
ALBUM STREAM//PURCHASE: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Iowa-10th-Anniversary-Slipknot/dp/B005804MIS/ref=sr_1_2"ie=UTF8&qid=1530026125&sr=8-2&keywords=slipknot+iowa+10+anniversary