Review Summary: Still just as disappointing a decade on from its release.
A decade on from All Hope Is Gone
and the frustrations from prosaic songwriting and disconcerting implementations all come flooding back. I’ll be honest, I rarely come back to this album (why would I when their previous three records sit right next to this？) but every time I do it reminds me of my justified negligence towards it. This is the precipice of evolution being taken too far; losing sight of one’s initial standpoints and outlooks, probably because they were caught in the moment. Actually, scratch that, that’s a little too forgiving. No, it’s not hard to believe the real reason for this album’s anaemic character and flat sonic deviation comes from the fact Corey and co. were burnt out during the time of its creation: relationships were waning and it was a monumentally difficult album to write. Ironically, and more critically telling, is that All Hope Is Gone
stems from being the most inclusive collaborative effort to date, with no one (namely Paul Gray) manning the wheel while it was being made. The final product is indicative of this process, and its flaws protrude further as a result.
Things set off promisingly enough, “Gematria (The Killing Name)” and the opening to “Sulfur” serves up breakneck, thrash-y riffs and Corey’s stapled nu-metal approach to deliver the quintessential Slipknot sound, but – like “Psychosocial” – when it comes to “Sulfur”’s chorus we’re hit with jarring clarity from Corey’s pop-laden hook; clean singing that stands next to the grimy riffs like a Little Mix fan at a Cannibal Corpse gig. And yes, Slipknot, and Corey, have always used digestible songwriting and melodic hooks as a core ingredient for every one of their albums previous, but this time it’s very different. The band knew this, as the tracklisting eases the unsuspecting OG’s into its web of deceit as you delve deeper, but there’s no preparing you for the outcome of blatant Stone Sour, alt-metal riffing in “Vendetta”, with all its cynical styling's, or the asinine and awkward sugar-hooks of “Butcher’s Hook”. But, frankly, the biggest problems here aren’t the senseless choruses, but rather their context and the album’s consistency – simply because it has neither. When your head isn’t spinning from a chorus that belongs on a Stone Sour B-side, you’ll be trying to get your bearings around the erratic tonal shifts. It’s great hearing that all nine members played a predominant role in the record’s making, but goddamn does it make for a stitched-up experience. I think I found more enjoyment in All Hope Is Gone
trying to figure out who wrote what – and honestly, it isn’t that hard to work out.
So, yeah, ten years on and my opinion for this hodgepodge of dysfunctional ideas remains undeterred. It has its moments, sure: “Dead Memories” shouldn’t work as a Slipknot song per se, but it’s a strong, catchy number based off its own merits; the intriguing archetype of “Gehenna” hearkens back to Vol. 3: Subliminal Verse
, melded with an early Queens of the Stone Age vibe at the chorus that is joyously peculiar and doesn’t work at all but at least keeps the brain engaged; while “Wherein Lies Continue” manages to hold some semblance of their earlier works despite the blasted hooks. And that’s the biggest kicker here – the riffs are there. There’s some really promising potential underneath the distracting singing and capricious tonal shifts, it’s just not handled well enough to make it work – which obviously stems from the fact there wasn’t a leader manning a vision here. Adding insult to injury, this album is the turning point for Slipknot and continues the Sour-heavy choruses on their next attempt. It certainly holds its place in Slipknot’s discography, and has a rather alluring quality in terms of its limitless experimentation, but it’ll always be their weakest album – made all the more depressing knowing it will be the last LP to come from its original members.
SPECIAL EDITION: This re-release package contains a remastered tracklist with minimal differences in quality – bar volume – and an additional disc which contains a live set from 2009. The MSG performance is surprisingly decent and captures the chaotic energy of their shows, but this re-release package is disappointingly lacking in content, e.g. the bonus tracks and documentary which could’ve been included here. 2.5/5
ALBUM STREAM//PURCHASE: https://www.emp.co.uk/search?cgid=root&prefn1=band&sz=60&start=60&prefv1 =Slipknot