That time we got Slipknot to put together the ultimate 25 track mixtape

(Image credit: Alexandria Crahan Conway/Roadrunner Records)

Slipknot aren’t just powered by blood, sweat and vomit. We asked the Iowans to tell us about the songs that have influenced them most, and compiled their selections into the ultimate mixtape

AC/DC – Highway To Hell (1979)

Shawn Crahan: “When I ran my bar in Des Moines, we had a lot of punk rock and ska bands play, but when Paul [Gray] and I shut the lights off and got everybody out, we’d crank up the stereo and play whatever Slipknot had recorded and then get into the old classics, like this one. Highway To Hell is an anthem to me, a philosophy. It’s so straightforward, and such an undeniable tune.”

Mastodon – The Last Baron (2009)

Jim Root: “This is an example of epic songwriting. Its melodic, heavy, intricate arrangements hold the listener’s interest.”

Steel Panther – Just Like Tiger Woods (2011)

Corey Taylor: “Everything about this band I love, everything. And the fact that I know them as people just makes it even more enjoyable to me. They’re so talented and so creative. When I first heard this song, I laughed my ass off, and then had to listen to it four or five times in a row just to hear the bits I’d missed while laughing too hard. Every drop of this is so true, and musically it’s so interesting, so spot-on. And that chorus is just bigger than fucking life itself.”

Big Black – Kerosene (1986)

Shawn: “This is one of the most important and influential songs in my life, in terms of shaping who I decided to be. If I were a solo artist, and didn’t have to share my vision with my brothers, my mindset and philosophy might be similar to the one Steve Albini has, which is refusing to bend for anyone. This song is such a threat, there’s a real power to it. The message behind it is kinda, ‘Hey, I’ve looked at everything around me, I don’t give a fuck, and you shouldn’t mess with me, because if you push me you should know that you will see fireworks, and see something that you normally don’t want to see.’ It’s a song set in a small town, where there’s nothing to do, and that casual line, ‘There’s kerosene around…’ is such a ‘Do not fuck with me’ warning.”

Rage Against The Machine – People Of The Sun (1996)

Corey: “This is possibly my favourite-ever opening track on an album. It comes out of the gate ready to smash your face into a brick wall, and it sets the tone for the entire album. I think Evil Empire is head and shoulders above the first Rage Against The Machine album, which I love, too. It’s such an incredible album musically, tonally, song-wise, and there’s such a visceral attitude to it.”

The Haunted – Bury Your Dead (2000)

Jim: “The Haunted are such a great band. I mostly listen to music on shuffle in my car, and I end up skipping over a lot of stuff, but whenever anything from The Haunted Made Me Do It comes, on I have to switch to that album and listen to the entire record. I think someone from the label gave me it, saying ‘Check this out’, and it’s an album I still listen to and still love. They’re not a ‘new’ band, obviously, but they’re one of the newer metal bands that I can still listen to now.”

Led Zeppelin – Nobody’s Fault But Mine (1976)

Shawn: “For me, discovering Led Zeppelin was a drummer thing. When I was getting into drums, someone dumped The Song Remains The Same album into my lap and I listened to Moby Dick live, and I’d never heard anything like it in my life. It takes up half the side of one record on the double album, which was just mindblowing to me, and I just started to fall in love with John Bonham’s drumming from there on. Plus, Jimmy Page is one of my favourite guitar players: people might say he’s sloppy, but I love the feel and emotion in every note he plays. Great song, great band.”

Entombed – Out Of Hand (1993)

Jim: “This is the last song on Wolverine Blues, and I love it. When I’m in the mood for something heavy, Entombed and The Haunted are two of my go-to bands. It’s super heavy and direct and to the point. I suppose I was 16, 17, when I got into Entombed on [1990 debut] Left Hand Path. I wasn’t a death metal head, listening to Suffocation or the sort of bands that Mick [Thomson] would listen to, so bands like Entombed were maybe as heavy as I got, but I still play the shit out of those records. Alex [Slipknot bassist Alessandro ‘V-Man’ Venturella] listens to some cool stuff like SikTh and Meshuggah, but ultimately I still kinda need to hear a song.”

Kaiser Chiefs – Time Honoured Tradition (2005)

Corey: “I really love the Employment album. I love the boisterousness of this song – it feels like a song where you’re just wearing your national pride on your sleeve. You hear the opening lines – [sings] ‘Well it’s time honoured tradition, to get enough nutrition’ – you hear that and it’s just ‘What? What the fuck is going on?’ I love the way that they take the song up and up and up and then bring it back down. It’s just a great song.”

Chris Isaak – Wicked Game (1989)

Shawn: ”OK, so first you hear the song, and you think, ‘This song is fucking insane, this guy is cool.’ And then you see the video and he has a supermodel [Helena Christensen] wearing boy underwear rubbing up against him on a beach in Hawaii because of this song, and you just think, ‘What more do you want?’ There’s a side of every male musician that has looked at that video and thought, ‘I want to be that guy.’ Hey, we’re all human. And it’s important for me to let the Maggots know that it’s perfectly OK to listen to other types of music – classical, jazz, Chris Isaak, whatever. I follow Miley Cyrus on Instagram, she’s fucking crazy and she makes me laugh, because she’s out-there, and I enjoy that she’s fucking with people and still has heart in her music.”

Witchcraft – Deconstruction (2012)

Jim: “This is just a killer song that reminds me of my formative musical years. It has great tones, cool vocals. It makes me wanna put on a faded jean jacket, grow my hair long and straight, and throw my middle finger up. There’s also a cool, old-school Judas Priest middle section with a vibey solo.”

Metallica – Whiplash (1983)

Corey: “If I have to explain why this song rules, then maybe you should go back and listen to the fucking album. Whiplash is such a fucking pile-driver of a song: it’s in-your-face, it’s beating the shit out of you, it’s just relentless. And it’s the one and only time you really hear Metallica namecheck themselves. It’s definitely one of my favourite Metallica songs.”

Queens Of The Stone Age – Keep Your Eyes Peeled (2013)

Jim: “This has awesome and unique guitar tones, haunting vocals, great melodies and perfect layering. It’s music the way music was intended to be heard from a production, songwriting and recording point of view.”

Depeche Mode – Clean (1990)

Shawn: “I used to think metal was just weird hair and tights, until Paul Gray introduced me to really righteous metal – Testament, Sepultura, etc. Before that, I was an ‘alternative’ guy. I’m 46, so I grew up on Bad Brains and Dead Kennedys and Black Flag, and then as I got into college it was Siouxsie and the Banshees, Ministry, Pixies, Dinosaur Jr., Mudhoney, The Mission UK, bands that had a different mindset from ‘regular’ rock bands. So I loved Depeche Mode from the first time I heard them, and this is just an amazing song from an amazing band.”

Van Halen – Unchained (1981)

Corey: “This is my absolute favourite Van Halen song. It’s just the perfect rock song. It’s got a great riff, but the music doesn’t do the driving, the vocals do the driving; the vocals keep the song at a 4/4 pace. Musically, it’s so weird, it’s playing off the beat, it’s not on the meter, but the vocals just keep charging the song forward until the chorus, which is just the big payoff… BOOM! I can put this song on and every time I just have a blast with it.”

Yes – South Side Of The Sky (1971)

Jim: “I’m a huge Yes fan, and this is one of my favourite Yes songs. A lot of the stuff I listen to now was stuff that my parents used to listen to, and I guess partly there’s a comfort in that, because it was a time when I had less on my mind, and life seemed easier, but with a band like Yes it’s obviously more than that. They have these really long, complicated songs, and Steve Howe is an amazing guitar player, with an incredibly unique technique and a great finger-picking style. To put together a song this long, which also has hooks and melodies that stay in your head alongside the brilliant guitar parts, is quite a feat: it’s a killer tune.”

Nine Inch Nails – Something I Can Never Have (1989)

Corey: “That song to me is probably one of the saddest songs ever written. Anyone who’s ever been in the position of wanting someone and not being able to have them can totally relate to this, and personally it got me through quite a few relationships – especially at the end of those relationships. Listening to the longing in Trent’s voice, hearing the poetic way that he set everything down, I think it’s just a timeless song that will never feel dated. It’s just beautiful. Trent Reznor is one of my favourite artists and Nine Inch Nails are one of my favourite bands.”

Ted Nugent –  Stranglehold (1975)

Shawn: “I’ll be honest, I don’t normally talk politics, but it can be a real challenge to me to even list this song, because of some of some of the things that Ted Nugent says. But I don’t want to judge the music based on the artist. But this is such a trippy song – it has the tones from Hell. As a kid growing up in a small town, this was always on classic rock radio stations, and it seemed really outside-the-box and experimental compared to most of the music on there. I remember going over to my friend’s house and listening to the album Free-For-All [1976] when I was a kid, and it just blew my fucking head off. I don’t agree with much the guy says, but whatever, I’m not going to be down on his music.”

Robert Plant – Ship Of Fools (1988)

Jim: “I’ve been listening to a bunch of old, weird stuff recently, and right now I’m heavily into 80s and 90s Robert Plant. When I was younger, there were a lot of his songs that I was into, but I wasn’t really sure what drew me to those tunes. But listening to them now, after all the experiences I’ve had writing songs and recording in the studio, I can really appreciate the songwriting and amazing guitar playing. I’ve been learning Ship Of Fools on guitar, and really tuning in to the lyrics, and man, what a great song.”

Pink Floyd – Comfortably Numb (1979)

Shawn: “This is probably one of the most important songs of my life. That guitar solo, man… when Dave Gilmour starts laying down that guitar solo, you swear to God you’re listening to words, he is fucking speaking to you, and you can come up with your own scenario as to what that song means to you right there and then. The message that I took from it was that if you trust yourself as an artist and you’re willing to give your creation and inner secrets to the world, this is how far gone you can get.”

Megadeth – Liar (1988)

Corey: “I kinda rediscovered this song in the last year or so: I was going through all my music and I was like, ‘Oh my god, how did I forget about this tune?’ It’s probably my favourite Megadeth song. It’s on a very underrated album – which is one of my favourites – and the riffs in it are just sick. It’s a metal song with a real punk vibe to it, and you can just feel the attitude in it. It’s so in-your-face.”

The Who – Substitute (1966)

Jim: “When I was a kid getting into guitar, I listened to Yngwie Malmsteen’s [1984 debut album] Rising Force a lot, because I wanted to be able to play guitar like that. But after a very short amount of time, I found myself going back to bands like The Who, who could actually write songs. They had attitude, and melody, and proper lyrics, and were great musicians, too, and Substitute is one of those songs that sounds so simple but it’s just so powerful and timeless.”

Ministry – Burning Inside (1989)

Shawn: “This song is just like, ‘You want to know the root of my being? Well, take a rollercoaster into my soul…’ It’s fight music, and for the longest time this was my theme song. I love the intensity and the ultraviolence of this song: the beat is unrelenting, and it just pushes you back and says, ‘You’re going to listen to what I’m going to say, and you’re not getting off the ride until I’m done.’”

Gojira – Explosia (2012)

Jim: “I could pick many tunes from Gojira, but at the end of the day I’ve seen and heard them live, and it’s like hearing the recording… but better, because it’s live. And there aren’t a bunch of tracks playing. Great band. Great arrangements. Great thinking.”

Turbonegro – Rock Against Ass (1998)

Corey: “I love this band, and Apocalypse Dudes is such an underrated album by them. Everyone talks about [1996’s] Ass Cobra, but the thing I love about Apocalypse Dudes is just the sheer, unadulterated fun, which you really don’t get on Ass Cobra. The riffs in Rock Against Ass are so great, you can hear the down-picking, you can hear the vibe, and I just love this tune.”

Published in Metal Hammer #271

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.