Slipknot: Everything you need to know

Slipknot have come a long way. From the basements of Des Moines, Iowa, to the main stage at Download festival, Slipknot's journey is one of inspiration. One of the most successful metal band's of the century, and one of the few to emerge from the nu metal boom of the early noughties with their integrity in tact, the nine-man killing machine have released five albums and played to millions of fans (also known as maggots) throughout the world.

But it hasn't been easy. Iowa remains one of the darkest records of all time, owing much to the psyche and headspace the band were occupying at the time, and the band's founding member Paul Gray died in 2010

If you're new to the world of Slipknot then welcome, but tread carefully, because here be monsters. Below, we'll answer any question you may have. Who are Slipknot? What's up with that nine-pointed star? What are their biggest songs? What is Knotfest? Let's see...

Who are the members of Slipknot?

There are nine members of Slipknot, although the line-up has changed numerous times since their formation in 1995. The current line-up of Slipknot is Corey Taylor on vocals, Shawn ‘Clown’ Crahan and Chris Fehn on percussion, Mick Thomson and Jim Root on guitar, Alessandro ‘V Man’ Venturella on bass, Jay Weinberg on drums, Sid Wilson on turntables and Craig ‘133’ Jones on samples and keyboards.

The classic Slipknot line-up (from 1999-2010) featured Joey Jordison on drums and Paul Gray on bass. Paul Gray was replaced by V Man in 2014 following Paul’s death in 2010, and Jay Weinberg replaced Joey Jordison following his departure from Slipknot in 2013 following a battle with his health. 

Slipknot in 2000

The classic line-up of Slipknot in 2000. (Image credit: Getty Images)

Who were the original members of Slipknot?

The majority of the current Slipknot line-up were not original members – in fact, only Shawn Crahan remains from the early days. Formed in Iowa in 1995, Slipknot featured Anders Colsefni on vocals, Donnie Steel and Josh Brainard on guitar, Joey Jordison on drums, Clown on percussion and Paul Gray on bass. Mick and Craig joined a year later, Corey joined in 1997, Sid and Chris joined in 1998 and Jim Root completed the classic lineup in 1999.

When did Corey Taylor join Slipknot?

Corey Taylor joined Slipknot in 1997 after being invited to a band practice by Joey, Shawn and Mick. He was already fronting Stone Sour at the time, but left to pursue his chance with Slipknot, returning to Stone Sour in 2002 to record their self-titled debut album.

Which member of Slipknot died?

Founding member and bassist Paul Gray died on May 24 2010 – autopsy results showed he died of a morphine overdose. He was buried at a private funeral on May 28 in Slipknot’s hometown of Des Moines, Iowa. Donnie Steele filled in for Paul on Slipknot’s 2011 summer tour, but Alessandro ‘V Man’ Venturella would take up the full-time role in 2014 following the release of .5: The Gray Chapter.

What is the Slipknot star?

Slipknot’s logo is a nine-pointed star also known as a nonagram. It represents the strong bond between all nine members of the Slipknot family and has nothing to do with Satan or religion, despite some claims from scared parents.

How did Slipknot get their name?

The band took their name from the opening track of their demo-cum-album Mate. Feed. Kill. Repeat. which was released on Halloween 1996. While it's technically their first proper release, MFKR is not considered the first Slipknot album and more of a glorified demo. It includes early versions of the songs Only One and Tattered & Torn, which would later appear on Slipknot in 1999, and Gently, which would appear on Iowa in 2001.

Do Slipknot still wear masks?

Slipknot have worn masks and boiler suits since 1997, with the original idea coming from Shawn Crahan who developed the character Shawn The Clown. While the band no longer remain anonymous and are often pictured without masks now (except Craig Jones who prefers to remain in the shadows), masks are always worn on stage.

Slipknot in 2005

Slipknot in 2005 with third-era masks. (Image credit: Getty Images)

What are the Slipknot masks?

Each Slipknot member has a different mask, all of which change with each album – some more significantly than others. We have a comprehensive list of every Slipknot mask detailing the evolution from the simple, dirty masks of the debut album to the sleeker, more ergonomic masks from the .5: The Gray Chapter era

Shawn Crahan has always remained a clown, although sometimes more grotesque as seen with his Iowa mask. Sid has retained a gas mask look, diverting away for the Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses album with a skeletal look. Chris has always kept his long nose and Craig has maintained his lengthy spikes. Mick’s mask has always resembled a metallic hockey mask and Jim’s has continued to have an air of a joker about it. Joey’s mask was a Kabuki style and Paul’s was initially a pig but morphed into a Hannibal Lecter-esque get-up. Corey’s mask has changed over time, from a dreadlocked leatherface on Slipknot to a haunting old man figure (with detachable jaw) for the .5: The Gray Chapter.

What is the best Slipknot album?

The first three Slipknot albums are seen as the strongest (Slipknot, Iowa and Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses) and see the Nine at their creative peak, but Iowa takes the top spot for Slipknot’s best album. 

In 2014, listeners of TeamRock Radio listeners voted Iowa as their number one Slipknot album, and it is the band’s only album to reach #1 in the UK album charts – although All Hope Is Gone and .5: The Gray Chapter both topped the US album charts.

Here is the order of release for Slipknot albums:

Slipknot (1999) – BUY FROM AMAZON
Iowa (2001) – BUY FROM AMAZON
Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses (2004) – BUY FROM AMAZON
All Hope Is Gone (2008) – BUY FROM AMAZON
.5: The Gray Chapter (2014) – BUY FROM AMAZON

What are Slipknot's biggest songs?

Looking at the viewing statistics of Slipknot’s YouTube channel, we have created a list of Slipknot’s 15 most popular songs – in descending order. 

1. Psychosocial
2. The Devil In I
3. Duality
4. Before I Forget
5. Snuff
6. Wait And Bleed
7. Killpop
8. Dead Memories
9. Sulfur
10. Spit It Out
11. Left Behind
12. Vermilion Pt. 2
13. Vermilion
14. The Negative One
15. My Plague

What is Slipknot's festival?

In 2012, Slipknot launched their own music festival called Knotfest. Originally taking place in Iowa, it has changed location over the years to Wisconsin, California, Japan and Mexico. Slipknot have headlined every festival except last year’s Ozzfest Meets Knotfest event, which was topped by Ozzy Osbourne on Saturday and Rob Zombie on Sunday. Slipknot’s 2017 DVD Day Of The Gusano: Live In Mexico was filmed in 2015 at the Mexico City Knotfest.

Luke Morton joined Metal Hammer as Online Editor in 2014, having previously worked as News Editor at popular (but now sadly defunct) alternative lifestyle magazine, Front. As well as helming the Metal Hammer website for the four years that followed, Luke also helped relaunch the Metal Hammer podcast in early 2018, producing, scripting and presenting the relaunched show during its early days. He also wrote regular features for the magazine, including a 2018 cover feature for his very favourite band in the world, Slipknot, discussing their turbulent 2008 album, All Hope Is Gone.