20. Purity (Slipknot – 10th Anniversary Edition, 1999)
Punted out on Slipknot’s debut, Purity was omitted from later pressings. The song’s narrative, which revolves around a girl being buried alive, was lifted from what Corey believed to be a real story – turns out it was actually a work of fiction, which got the band in a bit of a legal pickle. It was replaced by Me Inside on subsequent versions, but can be found in all its queasy glory on Slipknot’s 10th Anniversary Edition. More in the haunting, beatless vein of Scissors than any of the nu metal-on-bath-salts material scattered through the record, Purity is one of Corey’s rawest moments. It’s also one of the rare occasions where Sid’s decks add real atmosphere to proceedings, rather than just hyping you up for the drop – Craig’s searing implementation of white noise just before the chorus is suitably frightening, too.
19. Vermilion, Pt. 2 (Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses, 2004)
This acoustic reprise to Vermilion is the stand-out ‘soft’ song on Vol. 3 – the ‘I won’t let this build up inside me’ refrain works whether it’s being screamed in the original, or anticipating a heart-wrenching cello line in this incarnation. At the time of release, some people balked at the idea of Slipknot going all kumbaya and ditching the heaviness, but Vermilion, Pt.2 is no less intense than the original. It’s just different – and hats off to a band renowned for having three drummers releasing a single with no drums on it.
18. Nero Forte (We Are Not Your Kind, 2019)
We Are Not Your Kind’s fourth single gives Psychosocial a run for its money in the snare fair – listen to that breakdown and say it’s not Psychosocial’s little brother. No surprise, really, given Nero Forte is a Clown-penned number. But aside from the primitive thumping you’d come to expect from Slipknot, there’s some genuine exploration here; Corey’s falsetto, almost pop hook in the chorus is immediately splintered by his snarling, untamed scream. Twenty years from their debut, and the nine were still finding new ways to package earworms in barbed wire.
17. Vermilion (Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses, 2004)
One of Paul and Joey’s enduring feats: a Slipknot song that wades into uncharted waters while retaining the bite so many of their old fans crave. Vermilion is a stalker-ish, melancholy dirge with explosions of energy through its five-and-a-half minute lifespan, taking you up and down like a rollercoaster full of grandma’s china. How they get from that euphoric solo to the funereal lullaby in less than two minutes, Corey’s belligerent cries of ‘She isn’t real! I can’t make her real!’ tipping everything over the boil when it should be simmering down – that’s properly chilling.
16. Left Behind (Iowa, 2001)
When fans expected Slipknot to sell out, they didn’t. Iowa is the band’s most brutal effort by far, but Left Behind is its most accessible moment – that being, the verses and choruses are overflowing with Corey’s genius melodies, even if they’re counteracted by his equally hummable harsh vocals. The closest thing they’d done to a Wait And Bleed follow-up at this point, Left Behind ended up nominated for a Grammy in 2002. It lost to Tool’s Schism, which, to be fair, is like losing a game of Civilization to God.
15. Eyeless (Slipknot, 1999)
Slipknot’s self-titled is clearly influenced by nu metal, but to lump it in with Hed PE and Coal Chamber is absolute nonsense. Eyeless is a shining example of the nine plucking jungle breakbeats, death metal blasts, hip hop swing and groove metal riffs to build a musical foundation heads, shoulders, knees and toes above the competition. It’s almost comically aggressive, the perfectly timed ‘Mother… Fucker!’ still prevalent – and oft-extended – during the band’s live shows more than two decades on.
14. Unsainted (We Are Not Your Kind, 2019)
‘What is this? Nightwish?’ Despite weathering accusations of doing the same old trick every album, Slipknot’s 2019 return in was heroically polarising. We Are Not Your Kind’s lead single was the band’s first new music without Chris, who’d been unceremoniously booted earlier in the year. And sure, the new percussionist gets some worthy slaps of the keg in there, but Unsainted is all about that choral intro. It’s something completely new for the band, and makes those punching drums all the more satisfying when they hit. Corey wasn’t sold on the choir idea at first. Sure he’s glad to be wrong.
13. The Heretic Anthem (Iowa, 2001)
Slipknot aren’t a satanic band, so The Heretic Anthem’s cry of ‘If you’re 555 then I’m 666!’ is very knowing. Of course, this isn’t about the devil. It’s a middle finger to the record industry, desperately clamouring for the band to produce a radio single: ‘I'm a pop star threat, and I'm not dead yet’. This is a death metal song with Corey Taylor screaming over it – the riffs, the double-bass, Paul’s puerile bass. Cry about it all you like, but The Heretic Anthem is more eye-poppingly heavy than 99% of extreme metal bands today.
12. Solway Firth (We Are Not Your Kind, 2019)
We Are Not Your Kind’s full of oddities and sore ditties, but Solway Firth is the strangest of the bunch. Opening with Corey’s drawled storytelling, drowned in an Irish folk-inflection, it soon kicks into an alarming, thrash metal-by-way-of-In Flames assault of metal and melody in equal measure. Corey’s final line, ‘I haven’t smiled in years’, resonated with Clown so much, he demanded it be We Are Not Your Kind’s closing track. “Nothing can follow that line,” he told Apple Music in 2019. “You get the biggest smack in the face, and it's up to you to get up and believe that you have control to change your destiny."
11. Surfacing (Slipknot, 1999)
‘Fuck it all, fuck this world, fuck everything you stand for! Don’t belong, don’t exist, don’t give a shit, don’t ever judge me!’ It’s more than just something caretakers had to clean off school desks at the turn of the millennium – it’s Slipknot’s call to arms. Everything about it is just so primal, so urgent: the intro, with Mick’s squealing loop bringing in Sid’s scratches, the bustling percussion; Corey screaming ‘Fuck you all!’, giving the thumbs-up for the band’s three drummers to go completely ham; the anxious verses, leading into the aforesaid chorus; the bridge, building and building to the ‘I am the push that makes you move’ before that final, double-bass fling. There’s a reason this closes most of Slipknot’s gigs.