I planned to do something I had never done before in my life for this album, get up extra early and head straight down to my local HMV (Colchester) to buy this album on release day. However, being a student who has a tendency to sleep through my alarm clock, I woke up late but still made it down to be there an hour after it opened. After a chat about the band with a friendly cashier, I walked away with a copy of 5:The Gray Chapter in my hands. “I’ve waited six years for this album” I commented to her, “if it’s terrible I’ll be down first thing in the morning”. Luckily though for them, I did not return it.
Slipknot are my favourite band, there is no denying it. They’ve been the most consistent band that I’ve listened to since I got into metal and they were my gateway band into Death Metal and Extreme Metal. They get a lot of unnecessary hate but they’ve done a lot for those scenes. At one point in the lives of most metalheads from this generation, Slipknot were the heaviest and scariest metal band touring. Their antics on stage became the stuff of legend and their image terrified religious groups and parents alike. This is also the band’s first album without the great late Paul Gray on bass as well as their talented drummer Joey Jordinson. But how did the beast fare without two iconic members?
I am so happy and relieved to report that 5: The Gray Chapter is a fantastic return to form and to the world of metal. From the intro track ‘XIX’ and follow-up ‘Sarcastrophe’ it was clear this was the Slipknot we all know and love (unless you hate the band of course). Legendary frontman Corey Taylor (whose brilliant full vocal range is once again fully explored on this album) said that this album is a cross between Iowa and Vol. 3 and he was right. This album has the brutality and insanity of Iowa but also the creepy beauty of Vol. 3 – once again this is a mixed bag of songs to vent to and songs to lie in a blackened room to. Many of the songs can easily be compared to previous songs: ‘Killpop’ is reminiscent of ‘Vermilion’, while the drenched in madness likes of ‘Custer’ sounds like the long lost twin of ‘Surfacing’ from the band’s self-titled debut. ‘Skeptic’ is an emotional tribute to the late Paul Gray while the samples on ‘Be Prepared For Hell’ are genuinely unsettling. I was so happy at the end of this album. They’ve still got it.
It’s not the best album they’ve done, but neither is it the worst (even though they’ve never done a bad album).Without a shadow of a doubt it was worth the six-year wait. They’re still as mad as ever, yet retaining their classic sound which has propelled them to much-deserved heights. Welcome back Slipknot, let’s just hope we don’t have to wait as long for album number six.
Best Tracks: ‘The Devil In I’, ‘Killpop’, ‘Custer’ and ‘Skeptic.’
4. The Devil In I
10. The One That Kills The Least
12. Be Prepared For Hell
13. The Negative One
14. If Rain Is What You Want
(#0) Sid Wilson – Turntables
(#3) Chris Fehn – Percussion, Backing Vocals
(#4) Jim Root – Guitars, Bass
(#5) Craig “133” Jones – Sampling, Keyboards
(#6) Shawn “Clown” Crahan – Percussion, Synthesizers, Backing Vocals
(#7) Mick Thomson – Guitars, Bass
(#8) Corey Taylor – Vocals