10. Disasterpiece (Iowa, 2001)
Employing a similar up-and-down trick to Spit It Out, but through a filthy death metal lens rather than hip-hop, Disasterpiece has it all. The ‘I want to slit your throat and fuck the wound’ line surely has to be one of the most uncontainable outbursts of anger committed to tape – as if that’s not enough, Chris and Clown’s inhuman backing vocals add an otherworldly, Lovecraft-at-a-Morbid Angel show element to proceedings. And by the time Paul’s bassline peaks above the parapet towards the end, you’re so far gone to even fight back. Horrific ecstasy.
9. (sic) (Slipknot, 1999)
The first song from the self-titled isn’t mucking about. Twenty seconds in and you’ve already found an iconic moment, thanks to the ‘Here comes the pain!’ sample from Carlito’s Way. Besides that, you’ve got the band’s full percussive potential unleashed through the intro, all racing to the world-class sing-along: ‘You can’t kill me ‘cause I’m already inside you.’ No respite, no radio choruses, no bullshit – just three minutes and 20 minutes of chaos. That this opened the band’s headline slot at Download 2009 – widely credited as the best in the festival’s history, and the moment Slipknot became bona-fide worldwide headliners – shows just how expertly they can grab your attention, even when they’re being this pig-headedly harrowing.
8. Spit It Out (Slipknot, 1999)
The ‘jump the fuck up’ one – another moment chiselled into history at Download 2009. Spit It Out might lean more on the scene around them than most of the self-titled, but it proves that Corey can actually rap, for those of you wondering what on earth’s going on with his CMFT solo album. It’s a hyperactive nu metal titan that comes straight from their 1998 demo – they tried rerecording it for the album, but couldn’t recapture the magic. Probably for the best.
7. The Devil In I (.5: The Gray Chapter, 2014)
The Gray Chapter’s second single acted as a palate cleanser to The Negative One’s feral fury, all stomping, mid-tempo grooves laying the groundwork for the gargantuan ‘Step inside! See the Devil in I!’ chorus. Nestled in a back catalogue of festival anthems, it’s become something of a favourite among fans – whether you’re into the subdued Slipknot you get in the verses, or the all-out, grind-spattered beast you’re served in the bridge, there’s probably some aspect of the band past or present here for you. Jay’s clearly having an absolute hoot on the double-bass, too.
6. Before I Forget (Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses, 2004)
The first – and only, at time of writing – Grammy win for Slipknot in 2006, for Best Metal Performance, Before I Forget is one of Slipknot’s most popular numbers, and with good reason. It’s a classic metal song in every aspect – it’s got sing-along moments up the hoo-hah, the riff’s gnarly as a surfer who’s survived a shark attack, Corey’s screams are hard enough to placate dyed-in-the-wool metal fans yet accessible enough to reel in newcomers… and that chorus. During the vocalist’s never-ending crusade against Rick Rubin, whose production job on Vol. 3 irked him something rotten, he said: “Rick Rubin was convinced the chorus wouldn't work. I told him he was crazy. Lo and behold, it's one of our biggest songs and we won a Grammy for it."
5. Snuff (All Hope Is Gone, 2008)
All Hope Is Gone’s final single is poignantly haunting, being the last song the band released before Paul passed away and Joey left. It’s markedly different to the rest of the record, due to Snuff being written by Corey. "Corey doesn't really write music for Slipknot – but, when he came over to hear the songs Paul and I were working on for All Hope Is Gone, he showed me this,” said Joey in 2012. “I had him lay a scratch track down in the studio. Then I went in late at night, without telling him, and laid down some drums… When he heard it the next day, he started crying. It's Corey's masterpiece."
And is it really a Slipknot song? On one hand, you could argue it isn’t. It’s a Corey power ballad, which looks frankly bizarre when played by nine burly blokes in Halloween masks. On the flip-side, it’s another extreme for the band. They went as full-on as they could on Iowa and there was nowhere else to go, then Vol. 3 had them explore melody more adventurously – All Hope Is Gone is something of an amalgam of the two. Whether you think it’s shit or hit in the context of the Slipknot canon, you can’t deny that Snuff’s an emotional, pathos-drenched piece of songwriting.
4. Psychosocial (All Hope Is Gone, 2008)
Fresh from the banger bakery, Psychosocial is another of those ‘moments’ in the Slipknot live experience: ‘The limits of the dead!’ You know the bit. All Hope Is Gone’s second single is its most enduring, and it’s tricky to pin down just one exact reason why. Is it the hypnotic, wall-of-death-inducing snare/guitar breakdown at the 2:44 mark? Maybe the irresistible licks on display, from the slick solo to those pinched harmonics in the main riff? Or perhaps it’s just Corey’s knack for a clean-sung hook. Or the keg hits. Or any other bit of the song. Whatever it is, Psychosocial has become an addictive, unmissable staple in the Slipknot setlist, and will remain there until they hang up their boilersuits.
3. Duality (Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses, 2004)
The moment you know’s coming every time you see Slipknot. They live and breathe live music; they’re stunning on record, but their madness can only be truly appreciated when you can see the whites of their eyes. And whether that be in a dingy club in the mid-nineties or at Donington Park in 2009, one thing’s for certain: Duality is the ultimate modern-day metal anthem. When Corey starts with ‘I push my fingers into my…’ and the crowd bellows ‘Eeeeeeeeyes!’ – that’s the stuff legends are made of.
Duality is Slipknot’s single formula refined. The edges aren’t softened, though. The keg hits are still tinny as ever, Corey’s screams are enough to make a radio listener change the channel, and those verses just sound like a murderer expressing his innermost thoughts through a crappy Dictaphone. Through sheer willpower, Slipknot pushed themselves into the public consciousness with their first two albums – Duality kept them there.
2. People = Shit (Iowa, 2001)
Iowa is the first, and most certainly the only UK number-one album to open with a blastbeat. Likewise, it’s the only UK number-one album to open with a man screaming ‘Here we go again, motherfucker!’ People = Shit is responsible for this rather odd state of affairs, and whereas (sic) went for the jugular, this just cuts out the middle man and straight-up squashes you into the pavement. It might seem trite to describe it in such a way, but it’s just that heavy: those layered wails as Joey takes you away are hellish, but then the riff comes in and it’s just so… bouncy. With People = Shit, Slipknot confirmed that they were so much more than a nu metal band – they were, in fact, better than all of them.
1. Wait And Bleed (Slipknot, 1999)
This is it. Slipknot’s first single, off their first album, and a snapshot of everything Slipknot became known for.
The keg smashes aren’t isolated, pronounced moments like in Duality – they’re rattling through the entire thing. Corey’s vocals don’t flit from caustic to cuddly like Psychosocial – he sounds hungry for the duration, whether that be the triple-layered final chorus, the marble-losing bridge or the vein-popping verses. Sid’s scratching isn’t nu metal copy-and-paste – it’s so abrasive, almost comically so; in contrast, Paul and Joey’s interplay in the chorus is surprisingly upbeat, echoing the lighter, Faith No More-ish stuff they were trying on Mate. Feed. Kill. Repeat. Just heavier. With more craft. Better.
Slipknot don’t always play Wait And Bleed, but when they do whip it out, it’s enough to move the grumpiest of crossed-arm cynics at the back of the festival field. In two-and-a-half minutes, Slipknot set out their stall for more than two decades of unrivalled aggression, and achieved more than most bands do in an entire career.
Wait And Bleed is one of the greatest metal singles ever etched onto tape, and your favourite Slipknot song.