After a six year wait, Slipknot, renowned for their devout following, have treated their disciples to a brand-spanking-new album, entitled 5: The Gray Chapter. Corey Taylor has described the album as a cross between all-time classic metal album Iowa and the decidedly more artsy Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses record, and that seems to be a perfectly apt description of the record. Starting out on some Iowa-era, bone-melting brutality, tracks like ‘Saracastrophe’ and (the album’s top track) ‘The Devil in I’ will leave headbangers with a cheery little grin on their face. Corey’s (the vocalist) voice has a gristly bit of dust on it that gives the music an interesting twist – this could be perceived by fans as either progression or a mark of a band past its prime.
However, what can’t be argued with is the sheer aggression of the music and, as the album progresses, distinct diversity in the sound of the tracks.
The (admittedly predictable) aggression of the record that would otherwise be unrelenting is broken up into more manageable chunks of unadulterated, hateful angst by some more soft and measured tracks, namely ‘Goodbye’, a melodic track, which, surprisingly, brings the sound into an unfamiliar Velvet Revolver territory, and the equally measured ‘If Rain is What You Want’, which sounds a little bit like the unholy child of Slipknot and their softer, sister band Stone Sour. Loud, aggressive, Nu Metal; Slipknot are great, but it takes a bit of an effort to stomach it all in one go.
The album, towards the latter half, descends into ‘Wait and Bleed’, slightly more abstract, yet pleasingly unusual scratchy Slipknot sounds that allow for a slightly less homogenous sound that perhaps the earlier half of this record could be accused of.
The record leaves a positive, yet slightly empty overall impression. This shouldn’t be misinterpreted as a bad impression – the album has some strong tracks, and a well thought-out layout… However, expecting the same impact as the first time you heard Iowa, or even their 2008 album, “All Hope is Gone”, will leave a listener slightly short changed.