Review Summary: All the signs are here…
I got to say I was pretty pumped a few months ago when Slipknot teased the very idea of a new album. Even retrospectively, We Are Not Your Kind
more than kind of achieved what .5 The Grey Chapter
and All Hope Is Gone
, to a lesser extent didn’t quite. Maybe this level of expectation is my fault, but in having modern Slipknot churn out nu-cult classics like “Nero Forte”, “Birth of the Cruel” and “Spiders”, Slipknot managed to shake off the stigma that their songwriting chops had gone with Paul Grey and Joey Jordison collectively. It’s a weird chain of thought but maybe it’s the fans and critics that need to look at themselves, after all both routinely compare the most recent of Knot records with its direct predecessors. Then again, these comparisons fall to albums made over two decades ago
but even if we somehow put to bed the angst and aggression of the self-titled and Iowa
, the hook driven infectious anthems of Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses
or even the on the nose sense of loss emanating from .5 The Grey Chapter
, The End, So Far
just doesn’t stand up.
Let me expand here. For all the posturing, the throwaway, marketable comments that came from long-time Slipknot frontman Corey Taylor (and the internet’s larger authority on all things metal, hard rock or Machine Gun Kelly) when describing the new record (“darker”, “embracing the fact that everybody hates you”), The End, So Far
is lack-lustre at almost every turn. That’s no understatement. “Adderall”, a type of medicine usually prescribed to treat attention disorders, ironically doesn’t connect to the record’s main singles that directly follow it. “The Chapeltown Rag”, “The Dying Song (Time To Sing)” and “Yen” somehow become the stronger tracks. A poor omen considering there’s almost an hour of content to work through, but the complaints circle around a cluster of lack-lustre hooks, less aggression within a framework of angst and heaviness while dressing up droll simplicity as experimentation
. These experiments that largely bookend The End, So Far
are a misstep, an annoyance blending clean sung melody, hook with circular, meditative messaging. Corey’s lyrics seem so drenched in Stone Sour mannerisms, the original visceral attachment to Slipknot has become a bastardised version of itself even as guitarists Mick and Jim frenzy their riffs and solos.
Looking back, “Hivemind” restores some of the balance—more in tune with the stomp riffs a la All Hope Is Gone
or the renewed venom of We Are Not Your Kind
, the chorus however is a clear step back. It’s hard to believe that no one in the studio wanted the clean vocals reworked into something…listenable. “Warranty” suffers from a similar basket of complications, saved by some of [the soon to be underrated] tastiest noodle instrumentation this side of .5 The Grey Chapter
. For everything going right on Slipknot’s newest recording, there’s detriment clogging the veins of creation. I draw particular criticism to “Heirloom” which honestly sounds like something even Stone Sour wouldn’t put on record. Forget mediocre, “Heirloom” is out of place and downright lazy when compared to Slipknot music whether modern or vintage. I hope for the fans’ sake, this particular track doesn’t land a consistent spot on the live setlist.
Perhaps The End, So Far
is simply highlighting the end of a deal with long-term label, Roadrunner Records. A quick end [so far] to a careless divorce to which none of the children involved need to worry about which parent they see this weekend. Contracts signed on a dotted line in the anticipation of never having to see each other again? This simply could be speculation, an imaginary elephant in the room contrasting not so well with the idea of something actually worth commenting on and yet, the status quo of asking “What does Corey Taylor think of this?” is long gone. The meme, now made redundant. Roadrunner's long-time cash cow is making a run for the open paddock fence, all with the graceful cadence of the elephant mentioned above.
What we should all be asking is “does anyone in Slipknot even care anymore?” The End, So Far
suggests the carnival rides are finally over. It’s now time to get the actual *** out before the gates shut and the real weirdos come out. Hopefully this is one last middle finger to the label that gave them a stage and eventually changed to unrecognisable levels over the course of the career. Slipknot themselves may be able to push aside the aggression, the angst and the furor, but they shouldn’t forget just what gave them such range or immediacy. Pessimism aside, I really hope they find better form with a new label. All hope is not gone.