With everything Slipknot has been through in the last few years, you’d have thought they would have explored enough darkness and misery to last a lifetime, wanting to escape the cold expanse of unrelenting blackness with a renewed sense of optimism.
For the band’s latest release, We Are Not Your Kind (Roadrunner Records), darkness is firmly back on the menu, just not as you might imagine. Although clearly created from a place of pain and darkness, this isn’t a depressing or maudlin collection of songs, and it certainly isn’t dwelling on the past.
Having used the catharsis of .5: The Gray Chapter (Roadrunner) to help them through their grief, the band have stayed fairly close to that place (and with other recent events, that’s hardly surprising), but have also managed to channel it into something more positive. Most of the time, anyway.
‘Insert Coin’ gets the ball rolling with pulsing, swirling electronica, building into something more tenebrous before a children’s choir signals the beginning of ‘Unsainted’ and things kick off properly with an almighty crash. Nothing short of an instant Slipknot classic, prepare for four and a half minutes of mechanical, clanging rhythms, a monstrous middle section, and a chorus you’ll be singing for fucking weeks.
A song built largely around the band’s formidable percussion section, ‘Birth of the Cruel’ begins with drums and samples, the opening riff almost a less twisted relative of ‘Tattered and Torn’. A slower, grinding groove takes over and Corey Taylor‘s vocals switch effortlessly between disarmingly melodic and pure animalistic rage.
‘Death Because of Death’ is a simple melody repeated over disturbing background effects which swiftly segues into the utterly seismic double hitter of ‘Nero Forte’ and ‘Critical Darling’. Rhythmic, percussive behemoths which steamroller their way over anyone silly enough to get in their way, their hook-filled, bipolar choruses channeling the spirit of Korn.
Things slow down for ‘A Liar’s Funeral’, a song which shifts from acoustic Stone Sour-iness into something darker, and much unhappier, while ‘Red Flag’ is a reprieve from all the oppressive bleakness. If you can call even more sound and fury with that trademark Slipknot stomp a reprieve, that is. ‘What’s Next’ is another brief interlude which becomes a plinky piano intro to the unconventional and off-kilter ‘Spiders’, a song which may take its time in creeping into your unconsciousness, but eventually succeeds in getting under your skin.
‘Orphan’ might sound a tad generic, to begin with, but after just a couple of minutes, its Cannibal Corpse style touches and irresistible chorus are almost guaranteed to have won you over as it reveals itself as one of the record’s strongest cuts. One of the strangest songs slipknot have ever recorded, ‘My Pain’ is part John Carpenter movie soundtrack, part The Doors, and part WTF? This is followed by the joyously depressing dirge of ‘Not Long For This World’ before coming to a screaming halt with the blood and thunder pounding of ‘Solway Firth’. Its title is taken from a part of the northern coastal waters which border England and Scotland, but Corey seems to have taken a wrong turn somewhere along the line as he delivers the chorus with a cockney accent that sounds like an angry Dick Van Dyke treading on Lego. Still, even that minor (and very English) quibble doesn’t come anywhere close to stopping the song from being a colossal closing track, ending the album on a viciously victorious note.
Currently operating with only six of their original nine members, We Are Not Your Kind finds drummer Jay Weinberg continuing his absolutely monstrous form, the shadow of their former sticksman left well and truly in the past now, and Alessandro Venturella, the member with the most unenviable bass-playing gig since Jason Newsted, really coming into his own. With so many things happening on this record at once, it’s difficult to judge the new percussionist, known at this time only as “Tortilla Man”, but that’s something you’ll be able to see for yourself when the band come around on tour.
Guitarists Jim Root and Mick Thomson deliver the riffs in the same simplistic, but brutally effective manner as always, but throwing in some atmospherics and quirkiness along the way, while Shawn “Clown” Crahan, Sid Wilson, and Craig Jones all continue to bring their unique talents to the table.
Focused and determined, WANYK is easily one of the most solid bodies of work the band have constructed since their inception over twenty years ago. Things are just as dark as they’ve ever been in the world of the nine. It’s just a different type of darkness this time.
9 / 10