“Slipknot is a very special thing and it just keeps giving unto itself as it’s disappearing,” the band’s percussionist, founder and bandleader Shawn ‘Clown’ Crahan told NME for their last Big Read cover story back in 2019. “It’s disappearing like everything in this world,” he added, “but we’re doing the best we can.”
Over the years, the infamous nine have courted more controversy and tragedy than most. There was bassist Paul Gray suffering a fatal overdose in 2010, Crahan’s 22-year-old daughter Gabrielle tragically dying two years ago and the less than amicable split from founding drummer Joey Jordison in 2013 before his passing last year. They’ve lived through so much. Unsurprising, then, that fans may have gasped and expected at least a hiatus when they read that Slipknot’s new album would be called ‘The End, So Far’.
Their seventh LP marks the band’s last album on Roadrunner Records, the rock label that has been home to the masked menaces since 1999, when they first started scaring parents and huffing jars full of dead crows with their brutally game-changing self-titled debut. This record is about so much more about the end of a contract, but the band also aren’t finally caving to the split rumours that have always dogged them.
Frontman Corey Taylor said in a recent interview: “Nothing sells albums like drama,” but that all the hubbub “just comes from the fans”. Describing 2019’s astonishing masterpiece ‘We Are Not Your Kind’ as a “palette” cleanser, he says that this feels “almost like a reset” and “the end of one era and the start of the next.” Strap in, Maggots – things are about to get weird.
Opener ‘Adderall’ is far more latter day Bowie than anything you’d associate with a band once labelled as ‘nu-metal’. A pensive, mournful, woozy space-age dream with touches of jazz, prog and sharp beats that wouldn’t sound out of place on ‘Blackstar’, the track kicks things off with a real satisfying eyebrow-raiser as Taylor delivers pretty pure vocal of “shallow graves and deepest fears”. ‘The Dying Song (Time To Sing)’, with its rhythmic onslaught and guttural screams, is a little more business as usual for the ‘Knot as they rage against nihilism in the face of outrage culture: “Forget, deny, ignore, nice try”. That’ll look cool on a t-shirt.
We’re taken on the full gamut of Slipknot’s sonics and moods. ‘The Chapeltown Rag’ carries on their take on socially conscious pop metal with a hint of Nirvana, Taylor’s Cobain-esque closing howl: “When everything is God online, nothing is”. Starting on the subtly lighter side of tracks like ‘Snuff’ and ‘Vermillion’ but with shades of an experimental horror soundtrack, ‘Yen’ sees the singer get a little dark and saucy as he offers: “You’re the sin that I’ve been waiting for – your hands around my throat is all that I can think about”. The seduction then collapses in a riot of hard guitars and turntable madness.
You can almost feel them pushing themselves. ‘Medicine For The Dead’ broods with an ambient grandeur you might associate more with Tool; elsewhere pop sensibility runs through the slow-burning ‘90s grunge Stone Temple Pilots-esque verses of ‘Acidic’ before a fairly maniacal breakdown. ‘De Sade’ is a prog-metal beast and ‘Finale’ closes things with an assured an operatic pomp, leaving a tantalising wait for this next chapter.
Slipknot fans of old may find comfort in the speedy assault of ‘Hivemind’, the chugging rock of ‘Heirloom’ and the guitar noodlery of ‘H377’, but even they show the band flexing their muscles. ‘The End, So Far’ may rattle many of the metal faithful, but for the prowess and lasting impression of this record alone, this is a true Slipknot record. It’s unlikely that many fans who’ve been along for the whole ride would jump ship now.
Aside from the blood, the gore, the theatrics and the noise, there’s clearly always been much more to the band’s ability to shock and surprise – and now it seems their next left turn of an era could be their most daring yet. As Taylor warns on the old-school ‘Tallica-worthy arena shredder of album centre-piece ‘Warranty’: “Isn’t this what you came here for?”
- Release date: September 30, 2022
- Record label: Roadrunner Records