This week saw the first signs that for Slipknot there is life after the tragic death of bassist Paul Gray.
After months of soul searching and burying their heads in side projects, the band have announced that they’re going to tour again next year, with a show at the UK’s Sonisphere Festival confirmed for July.
Slipknot have already said they have no plans to replace Gray on a permanent basis. Of course, they need someone to physically play the notes, and drummer Joey Jordison indicated that a session player will stand behind his kit when they play their next shows together.
There’s no word yet on a new record, but history with Slipknot tells us that one generally follows the other and drummer Joey Jordison has already said he thinks it will happen in 2012.
News that the Iowan band will carry on is hardly a departure from rock n’roll’s traditions. Bands replace their members all the time and quite a few soldier on even when a member tragically dies.
Thing is, you always got the sense that Slipknot were different. In every interview they gave, in every utterance onstage, they always spoke of how nobody could do this but them and how they were bound by something far stronger than just music.
Percussionist Shawn Crahan perhaps summed it up best when he said, “"I'm an only child, but I’ve got these brothers, and we found each other and we made something happen.” They sure did, it was the nine of them against the world and that’s exactly how they liked it.
So what now? Surely that bond is now broken and every single time they step out onto the stage, won’t someone be missing? The short answer to that is yes - but that doesn't mean the band should call it a day.
Slipknot are an important band. Their music is uncompromising and as brutal as mainstream metal comes. But there's also a tremendous amount of innovation in there: Slipknot are a band who progress with each album.
And even though Gray had a huge impact on the band's songwriting process, even without him, there's clearly creative gas left in the tank.
Slipknot can never replace Gray, but neither can they turn their backs on the legacy and fanbase he helped create. What better way to honour the memory of their brother than by continuing to play the songs he loved and helped create to hoards of fans who love them just as much?
As they’ve always made clear, Slipknot doesn’t just belong to them, it belongs to every ‘maggot’ who has ever followed them. They have a duty to those fans to carry on. Next summer’s show will be the finest tribute to Gray they could possibly deliver.
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