Slipknot are brilliant. Unrivalled. Nine-of-a-kind. Since their self-titled debut in 1999 – no, Mate. Feed. Kill. Repeat. doesn’t count – the nasty Iowan nonet has continued to smash detractors and the mainstream with a massive baseball bat, amassing sell-out tours, Grammy Awards and Platinum-certified records along the way. But it’s not all gravy. Over the course of their career, Slipknot have released a few clangers; we investigate 10 of the main offenders here while pondering: ‘What does Corey Taylor think?’
10. Tattered & Torn (1999)
It’s a common misconception that Slipknot’s savage self-titled debut nosedives after Spit It Out. That’s absolute madness, but the rumour’s given weight by Tattered & Torn’s inclusion; a dirge penned by percussionist Shawn ‘Clown’ Crahan, track 7 on Slipknot is a change in pace and, if we’re being honest, quality. Taylor’s static-drenched vocals and the song’s unsettling, mid-tempo rumble works on paper but aside from its closing blast it just meanders, failing to evoke the pant-soiling levels of atmosphere on the record’s closer Scissors, Iowa’s title track and so on. Some Slipknot fans will laugh at you for only knowing the singles and have you believe they want to see Tattered & Torn live. They don’t.
9. Skeptic (2014)
.5: The Gray Chapter was a record Slipknot needed to make, their fifth LP proving there was gas in the dented keg following bassist Paul Gray’s death and Joey Jordison leaving the drum stool. The brutality was there in spades with stuff like Sarcastrophe and the sinfully sweary Custer, while the tender Goodbye wraps your heartstrings in a bow as does the Circle-on-downers melancholy of XIX. Skeptic, however good its intentions, falls short; dedicated to Gray, its refrain of, ‘The world will see another crazy motherfucker like you. The world will never know another man as amazing as you’ is unfortunately jarring, the verses’ militaristic pounding seeming a little pale compared to the album’s harder stuff.
8. Child Of Burning Time (2008)
A bonus track culled from Slipknot’s fourth album All Hope Is Gone, this is the bleeding bullseye within the ‘Slipknot? More like Stone Sour…knot?’ argument. It’s a hard rock track. Soaring, sugary vocals from Taylor with just a hint of rage towards the end, melodic guitar leads and largely benign lyrics that could’ve been nicked from a Five Finger Death Punch ballad all combine to create something that even the band must’ve known wasn’t worthy of All Hope Is Gone.
7. Don’t Get Close (2004)
Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses has a genuinely classic bonus track in the form of Scream, but Don’t Get Close sounds a tad damp held next to it. It’s an organic, percussion-driven number with Crahan and Chris Fehn banging the kegs like only thirty-something men in Halloween masks can do; utilising Taylor’s expletive-free, freshly realised roar, the song rattles along like verses from Three Nil that just couldn’t be bothered.
6. Wherein Lies Continue (2008)
All Hope Is Gone is admittedly patchy, Wherein Lies Continue being less a patch and more the entire blanket. Gray’s bass is the track’s highlight, slinging so low it threatens to kneecap anyone listening in headphones. That aside, Taylor’s saccharine refrain isn’t even Stone Sour-worthy, veering off in an entirely different direction. Not saying experimentation is the enemy, obviously – the creepy breath of Gehenna on the back of your neck is one of the record’s high points, but Wherein Lies Continue’s ploddy, almost New Orleans riffing just sounds a bit muddled.
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5. Vendetta (2008)
Another All Hope Is Gone clanger now in the form of Vendetta. Jordison’s fill at the beginning is a winner as are Sid Wilson’s subtle turntable scratches throughout – why he’s been side-lined over the years makes no sense – but those gang chants are joyless as an unanaesthetised lobotomy and the rallying cry of, ‘Let’s pretend we’re not at the end’ sits between Slipknot’s bile-ridden lyrical content and the almost positive stuff from songs like Before I Forget, wibbling and wobbling before dropping off into the ether.
4. The One That Kills The Least (2014)
While it’s not everyone’s cup of tea/coffee/energy drink of choice, Killpop is a song that marks new territory for Slipknot and adds to that sinister-yet-catchy vibe they captured on Vermillion. The One That Kills The Least starts trying to emulate that before Taylor’s voice swoops in, that higher register being implemented to sprinkle sugar over this percussive porn-fest, because that’s pretty much all that’s on offer here; Jim Root and Mick Thomson fail to pull out anything memorable in the form of heroic melodies or death metal-ish darkness, opting for an inane guitar solo before throwing you right back into the chorus and some undeniably sassy scratching courtesy of Mr. Wilson.
3. Dead Memories (2008)
Power ballad, pop song, whatever you want to call it, Dead Memories is a bone of contention between Slipknot fans. Some love it. Others think it’s a right old load of arse. We’re prone to agree with the latter; very little connects this song to the band we love and while there’s an Iron Maiden-worthy chunk of noodling towards the back end, Dead Memories’ lovelorn lyrics and melodious meat serves little purpose within the context of All Hope Is Gone or the live arena. Everything people thought Iowa was going to be – a collection of sanded-down variations on Wait And Bleed – is what Dead Memories is: catchy and packing less bite than a toothless pug.
2. Butcher’s Hook (2008)
Much like certain passages through .5: The Gray Chapter, it seems that All Hope Is Gone was riddled with misdirection. Butcher’s Hook is one of the record’s most confused efforts, Taylor’s venomous lyrics targeting identikit bands within the recording industry – it wouldn’t be a Slipknot album without one of ‘em, eh? – before launching into yet another sticky chorus. Once more, Wilson’s turntables slap dashes of colour onto this otherwise bare canvas, but for the most part Butcher’s Hook’s purpose is to make Gehenna, the following track, sound even more brilliant.
1. Override (2014)
Beginning like a Limp Bizkit interlude circa-Significant Other, this .5: The Gray Chapter bonus track descends into mid-tempo verses before some truly bewildering backing melodies reminiscent of Alice In Chains kick in and Taylor does a little ‘Oh-oah-oah!’ in the chorus. In fact, the whole track’s kind of an Alice In Chains homage, albeit filled with soulless double-kick and that breakdown and phaser phaser PHASER. Musically, few of Override’s sections gel together, nor do Taylor’s fluctuating phrases. A weird song from Slipknot’s discography that makes absolutely no sense.