Iowa Is Close to HomeFor nostalgia’s sake, I’m going to go see Slipknot next month. In anticipation of that, I’m trying to figure out how 32-year-old me feels about the band that the 22-year-old me loved so much. I began that with a review of the debut, which left me with an understanding of why I loved them, but not really feeling it the same way I used to.
Iowa, on the other hand, holds up pretty damn well. Most other bands I was into at the time released their angriest albums first, then softened up after the fact. Korn, Static-X, Disturbed, and fucking Staind. (I can’t stand thinking about myself listening to Staind, easily the worst offender of that bunch.) Slipknot’s sophomore release, on the other hand, is their most ripping and violent.
The riffs are more aggressive, faster, unrelenting, and just more metal. Where I understand why some don’t find the first album to be a metal album, I simply can’t agree that Iowa is not metal. The DJ and other crap is toned down substantially; the rapping is mercifully absent. But while the Iowans amputated everything that didn’t work, they kept what did: Shout-along choruses, like “People=Shit” and “The Heretic Anthem,” sung choruses like “My Plague,” even whole shout-along songs like “Everything Ends.” Yes, that’s the key to Slipknot’s success: People want to sing/shout along and get angry. It’s catharsis. While that might not be the highest of extreme metal aims, where the band sometimes wants you to stay twisted-up inside after the record’s over, it’s something that we often need. And Slipknot feed that need with few peers on their 2001 record.
They still like to throw in the eerie, brooding stuff like “Gently,” “Skin Ticket,” and “Iowa.” But the meat and guts of it are things like “My Plague,” as brutal as nu-metal has ever been (still not death metal levels of brutal, but they are acceptable). A couple of misses come in the form of the very nu-metal “I Am Hated” and the breakdown-featuring “Metabolic.” But with favorite “Left Behind,” a song I still must write in all-caps to let you know how much I FUCKING LOVE IT, those can be overlooked.
A few years ago I placed this as one of the best metal albums of the decade. I wouldn’t quite put it there if you asked me today, but I’m not ashamed of it. It was a respectable decision. Also: Goat on the cover. Can't go wrong there.
The Verdict: 4.5 out of 5 stars