Slipknot's Purity: how a fake murder story fooled the world, inspired a classic 'Knot song and got the band sued

Slipknot in a stairwell in 2000
(Image credit: Getty)

It’s the year 2000 and Corey Taylor is on the weirdest phone call of his life. Although Slipknot are still riding the high of releasing their critically acclaimed debut album, the frontman is in his then-manager’s living room, giving testimony to a judge on the other end of the line. It’s an uncomfortable necessity he has to endure if his band want to retain the rights to one of their own songs.

“[The judge] is like, ‘Now, now, Mr Taylor – am I to understand that you’ve stolen a song from a group of people?’,” The Nine’s singer reflected years later at a Q&A show. “He’s a judge! What the fuck do I say?! I’m 26, I don’t know shit at this point about the legal system!”

The song that Corey’s so awkwardly battling for is Purity: a centrepiece of Slipknot that, despite then being a setlist regular for the band, was suddenly pulled off the CD mere months after its release. Together with interlude track Frail Limb Nursery, the nu metal rager was the subject of a lawsuit by that, if unaddressed, could have got every copy of the whole album yanked off shop shelves.

The suit alleged that Purity and Frail Limb Nursery were copyright infringement. Both songs were inspired by a report on a Mississippi woman called Purity Knight: a student who – according to police documents, photos and audio on the website – was kidnapped and buried alive. The story was complete bullshit, though. With the site’s ongoing updates and drip-feeding of clues, it was an early online game that encouraged readers to solve a made-up murder mystery. However, since the internet was an even bigger cesspool of unverified misinformation then than it is now, many believed it to be true – including Corey.

The extent to which inspired Purity’s lyrics is unclear. The singer told IGN in 2002: “I wrote Purity because of a nightmare. I had the nightmare because of the [Purity Knight] story.” However, he said in the aforementioned Q&A 10 years later that, although Purity’s about “keeping a woman in a box”, it was actually inspired by such horror films as The Collector (1965) and Boxing Helena (1993). “We took the name from that website [],” Corey said. “The content, we already had.”

The first recorded version of Purity appeared on Slipknot’s 1998 Roadrunner demo, albeit with the title Despise. This primitive version had more melodic and less sinister-sounding verses than the final song; it also lacked that chorus of ‘You all stare but you’ll never see, there’s something inside me!’ It wasn’t until the band smashed their heads together with producer Ross Robinson that the song got fine-tuned into what showed up on Slipknot.

The exact outcome of all the legalities remains murky. What we do know is that Frail Limb Nursery, which is largely a sample of audio that was published on, never got re-released. However, Purity did: live versions were included on Disasterpieces and 9.0: Live, before the studio recording was made a bonus track on the 10th-anniversary Slipknot reissue in 2009.

Ultimately though, the trouble did nothing to slow Slipknot’s ascent to nu metal dominance. It also gave the judge on the other end of Corey’s phone the oddest day of work he probably ever had.

“It was just as weird for him as it was for me,” the frontman later joked. “He was on the speakerphone listening to some weird metal singer talk about keeping a chick in the box – and that we had stolen that idea from other people.”

Matt Mills
Contributing Editor, Metal Hammer

Louder’s resident Gojira obsessive was still at uni when he joined the team in 2017. Since then, Matt’s become a regular in Prog and Metal Hammer, at his happiest when interviewing the most forward-thinking artists heavy music can muster. He’s got bylines in The Guardian, The Telegraph, NME, Guitar and many others, too. When he’s not writing, you’ll probably find him skydiving, scuba diving or coasteering.