It’s the most common statement in rock. Flick through any metal mag and you’ll see it printed endlessly: ‘it’s our heaviest album yet!’. Better still, there’s that old chestnut: “the heavy parts are heavier, and the melodic parts are more melodic!’. When these records inevitably roll around though, they rarely live up to those promises. Age breeds complacency; complacency breeds softness. Metal bands, over the ages, tend to exhale a little, and make their sound more accessible as they venture into arenas. As per, Slipknot have bucked the trend.
‘All Out Life’, the Iowa nine-piece’s surprise new single, was released yesterday amidst countless claims from the band that their new album would be “‘Iowa’ levels of heavy” – a call-back to their genre-defining 2001 second LP. You’d be forgiven for rolling your eyes at those claims. The band are a full 18 years older than when they recorded ‘Iowa’ – they’re now fathers and husbands, and have full bank accounts and back problems. Such things don’t typically lend themselves to the kind of nihilistic rage that ‘Iowa’ thrived upon (back problems aside).
It takes just seconds of ‘All Out Life’ to burn away those doubts. An explosion of twisted riffs and the clattering, marching drums that defined their early years, it’s as searing and immediate as a shot of acid to the veins. The pace is unrelenting, even that oh-so-Slipknot percussive middle-eight surging forward. It’s the return to bruising form that they promised, and then some, with Corey Taylor’s rottweiler vocals perfectly summing up the sentiment: “Old does not mean dead,” he bellows, “New does not mean best.”
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It’s usually the young’uns who drive heavy music forward. Bands like Vein, Power Trip, Code Orange and Knocked Loose have picked up the mantle that Slipknot once held, taking hardcore and metal into chaotic, caterwauling new places. With ‘All Out Life’, though, the masters of metal have proven there’s still life in the old dogs yet. Make no mistake – Slipknot aren’t settling down any time soon.