It has been six long years since the meteoric Slipknot record, All Hope is Gone, was released into this crazy world. The path that leads them to modern day insanity was one riddled with grief and angst, with the death of bassist Paul Gray and the departure of drummer Joey Jordison. Despite all of the struggles that plagued the band, they rose together and conquered for their latest conquest, .5 The Gray Chapter.
The album is a pulse pounding rollercoaster ride of immense highs and lows, both in terms of lyrical content and overall style of each track. Many of the songs pay direct or indirect tribute to Paul Gray, which given the album title could been easily foreseen as being the case. In the opening track “XIX”, Corey Taylor delivers an incredibly emotional vocal performance that symbolizes the suffering the band has faced in the wake of Paul Gray’s death. Travel halfway through the album, one can find a more uplifting way to pay tribute to Gray with “Skeptic” being a hard hitting, chorus driven anthem where Taylor states “The world will never know another man as amazing as you”.
Aside from the Gray driven material, Slipknot proves yet again why they remain on top of the metal scene as one the greatest acts to date. Those looking for incredibly thrashing, high octane tunes should lock in to “Sacastrophe” and the album’s first single “The Devil in I” which are sure to get listener’s necks snapping. For more of a melodic approach “Killpop” involves some incredibly technical work from guitarists Jim Root and Mick Thompson along with an interesting message delivered from the insane vocal range of Corey Taylor. If you are a true Maggot and were looking for that cross between Vol.3 Subliminal Messages and Iowa, check out the anthemic “Custer “which combines the lyrical precision of “Duality” with the crushing instrumentation of “The Heretic Anthem”.
It is important to note that Slipknot’s last record All Hope is Gone debuted at No.1 on the Billboard Top 200. In a world that claims quite frequently that “Rock is dead”, here is a band that not only blows that perception completely out of the water, but does it by playing some of the heaviest mainstream music to date. While this is a huge milestone to attempt to beat, .5 The Gray Chapter is definitely a continuation of the rock legacy into the modern age. In a world filled with meaningless pop tracks designed to solely make money, it is refreshing to hear an album that is so incredibly brutal that is also so passionately delivered. This is definitely an album worth experiencing in its entirety and should be included in the arsenal of the modern headbanger.