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Album Review: Slipknot - The End, So Far
When the Iowan monster machine that is Slipknot steamrolled their way on to Ozzfest in 1999 with their debut self-titled album ‘Slipknot,’ they started what can only be described as a brutal assault of a legacy. Who were these 9 masked freaks bouncing about on-stage setting fire to shit and destroying one another? Anger, angst, fury and a message to broadcast to the world. Slipknot very quickly created a name for themselves across all genres in the music industry; everyone knew who they were.
Throughout their tenure, Slipknot have expanded on their core, recognisable sound and haven’t been afraid to experiment and broaden their musical arsenal. But how much experimentation is too much? ‘The End, So Far’ is the 7th studio album from the band and their most experimental to date. The record opens with ‘Adderall,’ a gentle synth lead track layered with distorted whirring. Distorted and utterly bizarre openers that make no sense are a staple in any Slipknot record but what makes this one even stranger is how it descends into a slow and steady, groove-infused beat with entirely clean vocals from Corey Taylor. ‘Adderall‘ is quite possibly one of their more progressive tracks to date. ‘The Dying Song (Time To Sing)‘ then blasts on to the scene with its signature Slipknot sound of clanging percussions, furious riffage and Corey‘s rasping screams and melodic cleans. ‘The Chapeltown Rag‘ carries on in the same vein with blistering drums, layered turntable scratches and the juxtaposition of brutal and clean vocals. Both of these tracks emanate vibes similar to the self-titled and Iowa era of the band’s history.
‘Yen‘ slows the pace right down with a foreboding and emotive energy and marks the beginning of the experimentation for the rest of the record with a heavy turntable presence and a very layered breakdown reminiscent of ‘Vermillion‘ from 2004’s ‘Subliminal Verses.’ ‘Hive Mind’ is unnerving and distorted to begin with as customary for Slipknot, breaking down into thunderous drumming, blistering riffage, signature clangs and an enraged scream. The track takes a melodic turn for its chorus then proceeds to descend into a furious conclusion. ‘Warranty‘ demonstrates the band’s musical prowess. It’s loud, twisting and a thunderous display of absolute rage before introducing a surprising choir appearance supporting melodic vocals before it picks up the rage again.
It’s at this point where the rage subsides, and the experimentation comes to the forefront. ‘Medicine For The Dead‘ takes a progressive turn with heavy use of synth and technical timings. It seems a decision couldn’t be made as to whether the track should be melodic, angry or progressive, so it became all three which rendered it into a cluttered mass with too many layers to process. ‘Acidic‘ is strange at best and follows the same progressive path as its predecessor. At this point, the experimentation begins to lose traction in which this track serves to be an unnecessary filler.
‘Heirloom‘ attempts to make a stomping, mid-tempo chug with soaring solos but falls short of being catchy and noteworthy. ‘H377‘ ups the ante at times with thunderous drumming and chugging riffs but dips and rises too much. Chant-worthy choruses lift the atmosphere but are dragged down by bland verses. The penultimate track ‘De Sade‘ is cathartic in nature with melodic musings and consistent thunderous rhythm. It wouldn’t be misplaced on a Stone Sour record save for the blistering solo and the cut to more brutal vocals towards the track’s end. It’s not a bad track but the band have opted for the safe option instead of having a final brutal push to begin the record’s conclusion. ‘Finale‘ is in the name; a piano-led orchestral soundscape and emotive in nature with Corey‘s melancholy vocals supported by an atmospheric choir; a surprising conclusion to a record that seems to be a bit all over the place.
As Slipknot records go, this is not their strongest offering but it’s not entirely terrible either. It has its high highs and its lows are low. The first half of the record is the strongest, but the experimentation becomes too cluttered and progressive as it goes on. By no means should the band re-hash the likes of ‘Iowa‘ and their self-titled debut however, sometimes too much experimentation can render a record bland and too confusing to enjoy. Does the record suggest the end of the road for the band in its entirety or just as they are known now? With their departure from Roadrunner Records, who knows what the future holds for the legendary band.
Released By: Roadrunner Records
Release Date: 30th September 2022
For Fans Of: Machine Head, Lamb of God
Favourite Track(s): The Dying Song (Time To Sing), Yen, Warranty