Like the Michael Myers of metal, Slipknot returned on Halloween to unleash hell. Yesterday, out of nowhere, the masked maniacs proved why they’re such a formidable force in heavy music with All Out Life. A song that harks back to the earlier, rawer edge of The Nine but manages to sound more vital than any metal band has managed all year.
But what does this mean for the new Slipknot album?
Earlier this year, Corey Taylor said that we can expect the upcoming sixth Slipknot album to be “Iowa levels of heavy.” This phrase, unsurprisingly, sent the internet maggot contingent into meltdown. Iowa is Slipknot’s heaviest album to date, fuelled by a vat of piss and vinegar, assaulting listeners with blast beats, barbed-wire vocals and thick, tar-like instrumentals. And All Out Life certainly recalls those nihilistic days.
While the production is akin to Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses), the pace is more reminiscent of the death metal mentality on Gematria. Throw in some maniacal vocal patterns from Corey that call back to the debut album, some gnarled scratches and whirrs from Sid Wilson, the military drums of The Blister Exists, the bounce of Custer, Clown twatting a bin and that guitar tone: it’s a Slipknot greatest hits in five minutes.
But there’s more at work here than just what All Out Life sounds like. This is a band firing on all cylinders and clearly fucked off at the world. A lot has happened since 2014’s .5: The Gray Chapter, and that album was such a personal journey, they rarely turned their gaze to the outside world. Now, judging by the new track, Slipknot have looked outside and hate what they see. It’s that same biting, caustic attitude that made them heroes to the disaffected youth at the turn of the millennium, the sentiments of Surfacing are very much alive. Fuck it all indeed.
In fact, the All Out Life’s subject matter echoes Get This from 1999’s Slipknot, a song that points the crosshairs at “your shitty fuckin’ band”, and that other bands “can suck these fuckin' nuts”. Now, almost 20 years later, the focus has shifted from bands to the industry, and the minuscule attention spans of the general public, always wanting to be first, forgetting about the superior music that came before.
But you can’t forget about Slipknot. As Corey bellows, “old does not mean dead, new does not mean best,” backed up by eight more madmen, creating a beautifully brutal racket, it is a stark reminder of just how good Slipknot were and still are.
Speaking exclusively to Metal Hammer last month, Corey told us that Slipknot have written the heaviest song of their career for the forthcoming album. It’s unlikely this is it, because let’s face it, it’s not as heavy as Eeyore, and you wouldn’t want to give the game away with your comeback single, would you?
But the ending is all-out war. The punishing percussion and frantic mayhem at the climax, with Corey barking out “We are not your kind,” we’re again reminded of that early Slipknot mentality. No care for mainstream relevance, it’s music for outsiders written by outsiders, and it will always be that way.
And that is what we can take away from All Out Life for the new album. The more things change, the more they stay the same. We’ve been craving a Slipknot return, crying out for that hostility, that primal urge to destroy, and it's back in full affect.
They are Slipknot. Don’t ever judge them.