‘Isn't this what you came here for?’ roars Corey Taylor on Warranty, a savage call to arms halfway through Slipknot’s seventh album. Five seconds later, a battery of drums and serrated guitars kicks in, leading to a whopping hook, and all hell breaks loose. It’s a rabid reminder that, after 27 years of misanthropic annihilation, the world’s most volatile, nine-man wrecking crew are as untameable as ever. That said, it does raise a question: what exactly do people expect from a Slipknot record in 2022?
Naturally, The End, So Far serves up plenty of maggot bait with frenetic singles The Chapeltown Rag and The Dying Song (Time To Sing), and the relentless H377 lunges straight for the jugular with demented yet methodical precision and colossal choruses. But 2019’s dark and experimental We Are Not Your Kind – a solid return to form after a period of patchy records – proved that almost three decades into their career, it’s impossible to predict where Slipknot will go next. Clearly, they have no intention of making it easy for fans this time around, either. Corey’s summation of this album as “a heavier version” of the band’s melodic and dynamic third record, Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses), rings true in that this is easily the most inventive, ambitious and varied album they’ve put their name to.
Quiet, contemplative opener Adderall starts out like a haunted take on Radiohead’s Kid A, complete with creepy keys and garbled FX, before veering into woozy Alice In Chains Jar Of Flies territory. It’s unlike anything The Nine have recorded before.
They pull a similar trick on Acidic, a track drummer Jay Weinberg talked up as the “heaviest blues song on Earth”, where Corey bellows and croons through clenched teeth over eerie drones and planet-devouring guitars. These songs play with layers, tones and new ideas, blending bags of melody with bloodied brutality. DJ Sid Wilson has a scratching solo amid Yen’s intense and claustrophobic serial killer balladry, Warranty’s stomping riff opens into a near-ambient choir-led bridge, while Medicine For The Dead twists itself into a ghastly nightmare with Corey roaring ‘DRINK ME!’ over a deceptively catchy chorus, wrapping up on a vocoder-ed refrain.
If there’s a criticism to be had, it’s that Heirloom’s swagger veers a little too much towards Stone Sour’s metallic anthemia; otherwise, the band break plenty of new ground. When they revealed the title of this album back in July, it sparked frenzied online rumours that the band were about to call it a day. They nipped such talk in the bud, of course, but this is their last album on Roadrunner Records – their home since releasing their incendiary self-titled debut in 1999. Yet the music speaks for itself. At this stage in their career, they could easily have phoned in something far more familiar and far less challenging to appease the diehards hankering for Iowa 2.0, but that’s never been the Slipknot way. Nihilistic, challenging and as euphorically destructive as ever, The End, So Far is the sound of a band still carving their own path of sonic carnage, right at the top of their game.
The End, So Far will be released on September 30 through Roadrunner Records
The new issue of Metal Hammer celebrates the return of Slipknot with nine collectable covers, plus an exclusive Slipknot patch and giant poster, and a bonus Stranger Things Eddie Munson art print.