Slipknot‘s long awaited return has finally come. Sadly lacking a different line up to the last release, with the departure of Joey Jordison and the unfortunate loss of Paul Gray it’s no surprise the latest release took a while to come together. Not that the other members haven’t been busy, Stone Sour being the obvious work horses, but the timing they felt was finally right to release something new. Presumptions will be similar to that before Avenged Sevenfold‘s “Nightmare” and the album will in line with a tribute to their lost friend, the title alone indicates this.
By the time ‘The Devil In I’ hits there’s a different vibe to Slipknot‘s signature sound. It’s dirty but restrained enough to retain a solid melody, this doesn’t stop the album from hammering away like SK do best. The band do well to tribute Gray but not overly saturate the album in grief, allowing room for a new SK to grow in this wake whilst still retaining what made SK such a success. The softer dynamics the band have adopted are clear in a song like ‘Killpop’ but though many people complain this is because of Stone Sour it is actually balanced differently to SS and has set itself aside clearer than the case may have been on “All Hope Is Gone”.
Despite the obvious addition of “softer elements” the album remains relatively unrelenting and asides from a few dives into cleaner guitars and emphasis on other instruments it’s predominantly fast guitars and drums and harsh vocals. Definitely one point for the Taylor critics, his voice has definitely changed but he can still perform well in SK whilst also adapting his style to suit that more of a “singer”. The sadistic ‘Lech’ captures the albums sound pretty well whilst ‘Goodbye’ understandably changes the theme completely. This change however almost ushers in the second half of the album, splitting this quite long release well.
‘Custer’ injects a burst of adrenaline again before ‘Be Prepared for Hell’ divides the closing tracks from the remainder of the album. The haunting intro to ‘The Negative One’ is actually one of the most memorable things in an album full of great moments. ‘If Rain Is What You Want’ closes the album and begins in a totally different way to any track of the album. It feels more spiritual and definitely deeper emotionally than any of the preceding tracks.
“The Gray Chapter” in itself begins a new chapter in the life of Slipknot. Should they feel like continuing after this then this will definitely have been the defining release for them. It’s a shame on which the circumstances of it’s release occurred but it is definitely a fitting tribute to a fallen brother. It sounds like it’ll wheel back in the hardcore fans who have have been lost in recent years whilst ushering in a whole new generation of Slipknot fans.
Verdict: 8/10 – It’s a new chapter and a very important time for Slipknot; they’ve tred exceptionally carefully and it’s paid off in the form of a tribute album that doesn’t dwell on the past too much, rather looks to the future.
Release Date: October 17th 2014 (Australia & Netherlands) & October 21st 2014 (USA)
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