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Our first reaction to Slipknot's Yen: tense, claustrophobic and dripping with atmosphere

Yen
(Image credit: Slipknot / YouTube)

The Dying Song (Time To Sing) has barely left 'repeat mode' on our speakers and yet, just over two weeks later, Slipknot have decided to spoil us with another brand new single.

Yen marks our third taste of new Slipknot album The End, So Far following The Dying Song and last year's The Chapeltown Rag, and where those two previous bangers showcased The Nine at their classic, frenetic, demented best, Yen is a timely reminder that the Iowans often sound at their most sinister when they dial back the pace a little.

Opening with a chilling sound effect that sounds somewhere between a slowly crackling fire and menacing footsteps pacing across an ancient, stony floor, swathes of claustrophobic synth and foreboding, echoey chimes creep into play.

"You're the sin that I've been waiting for," croons Corey. "The hands around my throat." Soon, he's joined by a steady drum beat and a splash of bass and guitars as the song lurches into into a steady, sinister, grinding groove, pierced by a chorus carried along by meaty, stuttering riffs. As Corey breaks out an evil chuckle and the song rolls through its midsection, DJ Sid Wilson is soon given a moment to shine, offering up some delightfully unhinged scratching before the song explodes into more killer riffs, these ones sounding as imperious and methodical as a Terminator about to stomp on a human skull.

There's even time to cram in a floaty, semi-ambient passage (well, by Slipknot's standards - it still sounds menacing AF). "I'll die for youuuuuuu!" cries Corey as Yen reaches its end in a clatter of drums, riffs and scratches. 

`It's a song that does a lot in less than five minutes, and yet it never detours from its steady, relentless march forwards. Yen feels constantly on the edge of an explosion, dragging you upwards along a creaking, groaning, grime-covered rollercoaster that doesn't need to send you hurtling off the other side. It simply leaves you, haunted, gazing over the abyss at the top.

Tense, claustrophobic and dripping with atmosphere, it's the perfect palate-cleanser after the all-guns-blazing attacks of The Chapeltown Rag and The Dying Song, making it very clear that if you're hoping for an album of all-out, blastbeat-driven mayhem, that is not what The End, So Far is going to give you.

Because that's never been the be-all and end-all of Slipknot. They're a band of many shades, and Yen proves once again that they're all the better for it. 

The End, So Far is out September 30 via Roadrunner

Merlin Alderslade
Merlin Alderslade

Merlin stepped into his role as Executive Editor of Louder in early 2022, following over ten years working at Metal Hammer. While there, he served as Online Editor and Deputy Editor, before being promoted to Editor in 2016. Before joining Metal Hammer, Merlin worked as Associate Editor at Terrorizer Magazine and has previously written for the likes of Classic Rock, Rock Sound, eFestivals and others. Across his career he has interviewed legends including Ozzy Osbourne, Lemmy, Metallica, Iron Maiden (including getting a trip on Ed Force One courtesy of Bruce Dickinson), Guns N' Roses, KISS, Slipknot, System Of A Down and Meat Loaf. He is also probably responsible for 90% of all nu metal-related content making it onto the site.