Thursday, December 11, 2014

Slipknot - 05: The Gray Chapter Review



Slipknot - .5: The Gray Chapter has been out for a little bit over a month now so I wanted to take the time to write a review of the album.  Those of you that are fans of the site know that I occasionally like to talk about music as well.  Don't worry, this is not going to be something that takes over the site.  I'll be going right back to games again after this.  I just like to share some off-topic stuff from time to time is all.

I have pretty much made it known that I am a big metal-music fan at this point so it should come as no surprise that I also am a big fan of Slipknot.  I actually attended the concert for this album back on November 9th, 2014 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  I loved every minute of it!

Here is my review track-by-track of Slipknots newest album .5: The Gray Chapter!  Enjoy!

XIX
XIX is a really slow and sadly forgettable track.  In the 50+ times I have listened to this album I think more often than not I just skip this track on the album.  Having seen Slipknot live in concert I feel like this song was written with the intention of opening their concerts with it.  For that purpose it was really cool I will say that.  But to sit and jam out to it sitting at work--nah.  Not for me.  Not a bad song.  It just doesn't really catch me in the context of a Slipknot album.

Sarcastrophe
Sarcastrophe is the second song on the album, but I consider it the real opening to the CD because it starts off slow just like XIX did.  That doesn't last long.  About a minute into the track it picks up and you immediately know you're listening to a Slipknot album.  Corey Taylor's first lyrics "Wallow in the winter of it, Discover what you truly covet, Underneath and far above it, You slither in all kinds of shit!" are sung in a way that sounds like a hybrid from Vol. 3: Subliminal Versus and Iowa in my opinion.

It seems like every album that Slipknot makes has some sort of a battle cry track and Sarcastrophe is that track on .5: The Gray Chapter.  On All Hope Is Gone it was Psychosocial, Vol. 3: Subliminal Verses it was Pulse Of The Maggots, Iowa I would say it was The Heretic Anthem and on their debut album I would say it is either Surfacing or maybe even Spit It Out.  Sarcastrophe is hands down one of my favorite songs from the album though.  After the slow opening of the song it is heart-pounding all the way through.


AOV
I didn't know it until I looked it up recently, but the name of this track actually stands for Approaching Original Violence.  After seeing it I probably should of pieced it together in my head considering they use that phrase a handful of times on the track.   Ignoring my obviously stupidity on that one let me tell you this.  AOV is a great song.  Listening to the lyrics you can tell that the people involved with this album had a lot of built up anger going into making this.  Holy shit does it show in this song.  Basically they're singing about all the bullshit they dealt with in the last 6 years from outside influences and even members of their own band.  Presumably regarding the death of Paul Gray and them having to fire Joey Jordison due to reasons that have been speculated on for over a year now.

AOV is a great song that tells a pretty tough story of Slipknot and the last 6 years since they made All Hope Is Gone.  For that reason I would put it in one of the top 5 songs on the album.
The Devil In I
If there is a song on .5: The Gray Chapter that you hear on the radio or you've heard on the radio this is no doubt that song.  As I mentioned earlier there is one song on almost all their albums that I would consider a battle cry song.  Well there is also a song on every album that is very radio friendly and usually ends up being overplayed to death by every rock/metal station on the planet.  Well The Devil In I is that song.  That is not to say that it is a bad song though.  I absolutely love it!  It is just obvious that they made this song to be the advertisement for the album.  For the record--it does an amazing job!

The Devil In I has what is one of the more disturbing music videos I have seen in a very long time as well.  It is essentially a video of each member killing themself, or being killed, and revealing their new identity.  As disturbing as the video is I have to admit that I have contributed to probably 25+ views that the video has received.  I regret nothing!



Just like AOV I would say that The Devil In I is one of the top 5 songs on the entire album.  It could even make a run for the best song to be honest!

Killpop
Killpop is a song I have really come around to loving a lot.  When I first heard it I actually didn't care for it much.  It seemed to be a love song or something and the world has about 10,000+ of those.  Then I read an interview in Kerrang! where Corey Taylor explained what the song was meant to be about and it changed my entire perception of the song.  It isn't a love song about a girl at all.  It is about how completely fucked up the music industry is and how badly musicians are taken advantage of.  He is singing about having to deal with it and find away to love it because it is the way things work.

The one drawback of Killpop is that the song, with exception to the chorus, sounds very much like a pop song.  The saving grace for the song is chorus where Corey Taylors screaming brings the feel of the song back to what you expect from a Slipknot track.

Skeptic
Skeptic is a great song in that it is completely straight-forward what they are singing about.  They do not use metaphors or anything like that.  The song is about having lost their bass player Paul Gray. The chorus of the song pretty much sums up their feelings on Paul Gray. 

"The world will never see another crazy motherfucker like you
The world will never know another man as amazing as you"

The entire song is much more uptempo than the one that comes before it on the album.  That is a recurring theme throughout the entire album.  They have a slower song and then raise the tempo right afterward with something much more heavy.  That flow works out really well if you choose to listen to the album from beginning to end.  If you start in the middle though it seems a little weird, but that is just the music whore in me talking.

Lech
Lech is easily one of my least favorite songs on the album.  It just doesn't do much for me.  The words of the song come across as a rerun to the song The Devil In I.  The difference being The Devil In I has sick rhythm guitars and Lech sounds like something we've heard a few times before on prior albums.  Overall this track, at least for me, is very forgettable.

Goodbye
Goodbye is the song on the album that almost seems like it is two songs in one.  The opening half of the song is very somber and sad sounding.  It's another straight forward song in that you know they're singing about Paul Gray having passed away.    The last line of the song before it picks up is incredibly powerful when you listen to the song.  "So the last thing on Earth I am ready to do is say... Goodbye."  The song then picks up and turns into the band essentially saying nothing is going to break us, no one understands what we are going through and you never will.  

For a song that comes across as so sad and somber it leaves you with the feeling that Slipknot are telling you "Hey, we're gonna be fine!" which is why I like the song so much.

Nomadic
Nomadic takes the last half of Goodbye, pumps a shitload of adrenaline into it, takes the baton and sets itself on fire.  That is how I would describe Nomadic.  I love this song so much and it is primarily because of the chorus.

OK, I have to stop and pull back the curtain a bit here.  All the while that I have been writing this review what I have done is listen to the song, hit pause, write the short little blurb on the track and then hit play.  It seemed like the proper method for doing this.  For Nomadic I was curious about some of the lyrics as they were unclear to me so I went to genius.com.  On the sidebar of the page for Nomadic in which Corey Taylor did an interview with Kerrang!  The way he describes the song is identical to what I said and I swear to the deity I do not believe in that I did not read that before I wrote the first paragraph.  Here is it:

“Nomadic” is the other side of [“Goodbye”] – that’s when the anger starts up. And it’s almost like if “Goodbye” is slowly getting to your feet, Nomadic is the sprint that happens once you do get to your feet. And there’s almost a misogynistic kind of vibe to it, where it’s like men shouldn’t cry, or are afraid to show their true feelings, and this is the gnarly, aggressive repercussions of trying to hold it in, and standing out and trying to put on a sense of bravado when inside you’re really just sinking fast in the quicksand."

I think the proper thing to do is just leave it at that.  I love the song, its crazy and heavy.  Everything you want in a Slipknot song. 'Nuff said!

The One That Kills The Least
If Nomadic was crazy and heavy that means The One That Kills The Least must be a slower song.  That holds true in this case.  It is a slower song.  The chorus is very melodic, but the different verses of the song keep it from what I would call being a run of the mill slow song.  That being said; a slow song does not mean a bad song.  I love this song as much as any other on the album.

My favorite part of the whole song is the Jim Root guitar solo around the 3:00 mark.  What can I say.  I am a sucker for Jim Root.  Jim Root is like a Slipknot cowbell.  You can never have enough!

Custer
This song was fucking made to be played live.  Corey Taylor himself could tell me to my face that is was not and I would tell him he is full of shit.  This was hands down my favorite song when I saw Slipknot live back in November and it was my favorite song on the entire album even before then.

Custer is the song that is most like their work on Iowa.  It is crazy, it is very anthem sounding and it is everything that you expect from a Slipknot song.  I can honestly tell you that I do not know what the hell this song is about if there is meant to be some personal story within it and maybe that is why I like it so much.  The album is filled with reminders of the shitty 6 years they had before releasing this album so it is nice to hear a song that sounds like Slipknot are back on their feet, masks are on and ready to hurt my ears once again.  Custer is #1 on the album for me.  

Be Prepared For Hell
If anyone call tell me what the point of this song is I am all ears.  Shawn Crahan aka Clown is the one singing in this song.  Shawn I absolutely love your band, love you and love just about everything you guys do.  Except this.  This is a piece of hot garbage.  I was actually upset when I heard this song for the first time.  It felt more like something Clown could have done as a side project when Slipknot are done touring for .5: The Gray Chapter. Be Prepared For Hell--blows.

The Negative One
Whew!  Now that Be Prepared For Hell is over lets pick it back up again--as they do through the whole album.  There are two songs on the album that I would say are children of Iowa.  The first is Custer and the second is The Negative One.  I love this damn song.  It was the first single from the album and it is about choosing which version of yourself you want to be after suffering a tragedy.  The negative person or the one that is going to keep pressing on and thrive.  At least that is what I take away from it.

The Negative One is high tempo, hardcore and Corey Taylor's voice from Iowa gets transplanted into 2014 on this song.  The video for it is really fucking weird I will say that.  Two naked chicks convulsing around with dead goats....that's Slipknot for ya though haha.

This song also cracks my top 5 for the best songs on the album--with good reason.

If Rain Is What You Want
Since Slipknot to not want your damn heard to explode they put If Rain Is What You Want after The Negative One.  If The Negative One and Custer were transplanted from Iowa then it is pretty obvious that If Rain Is What You Want was transplanted from All Hope Is Gone.  All Hope Is Gone was my least favorite Slipknot CD which is why it should come as no surprise that this song doesn't do much for me.  It seems very much out of order too.  By that I mean the album seems to follow a tempo of saying:

"We're still here.  Lets address what happened.  Paul Gray died and we all had a tragically difficult time with it.  Lets bury the hatchet and get ourselves on our feet.  Paul was an amazing person and friend.  He was larger than life.  He was the essence of Slipknot.  We will miss him dearly.  Now it is time for us to pick ourselves back up and forge ahead.

Custer

Hey!  We're back and we're not going to go anywhere!  Nothing will ever stop us!

If Rain Is What You Want

We are still grieving.  We need time."

The song seems very out of order in my opinion.  I am not saying it is a bad song.  I just do not personally care for All Hope Is Gone as a complete album so maybe the beauty of this sons is lost on me.

  

Overall I would say that .5: The Gray Chapter does everything I wanted it to as a Slipknot fan.  It didn't ignore any of the music they made in the past.  Even though I do not care for All Hope Is Gone as an album it was nice to see them bring some of that to this album.  It has a little bit of everything that they have done in the past.  Some debut album, a couple songs reminiscent of Iowa a couple from Vol. 3 and a couple from All Hope Is Gone.

It is nice to see that they were able to make an album about the last 6 years while embracing everything they've done in the past.  If I had to give this album a grade I would say it is a solid B in terms of what I had hoped for from a Slipknot album.  There are a few songs on it that hurt the album.  Be Prepared For Hell, XIX and If Rain Is What You Want are far and away the weakest songs on the album.

The strongest points from the .5: The Gray Chapter are in those songs I mentioned being in my personal top 5:
  1. Sarcastrophe
  2. The Devil In I
  3. Custer
  4. The Negative One
  5. Nomadic
For anyone that is a fan of metal music .5: The Gray Chapter is a welcome addition to any music library.  Slipknot are back and it seems like everything is going to be just fine!  Just one last comment to make.  The album does not suffer in any noticeable way from Joey Jordison being gone.  Jay Weinberg fills in excellently on the album! Hoping for more in the future!


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