Friday, September 26, 2014

Slipknot: Slipknot (1999)


The history of how I came to be the metalhead I am today has been thoroughly documented on this site. But I don't think I ever explained just how much I loved Slipknot around the turn of the millennium. There was a time when Slipknot was, if not my favorite band, at least in the top three. They're not even close to that now, but to a teenager who had never heard anything more extreme (with the exception of Meshuggah) they really resonated.

So now they're coming to Omaha with Korn, another band I loved at the time, and my neighbor asked me if I wanted to go. Because I want to hang out with him, and for the nostalgia factor, I said "yes." That's right: two fathers of three going to see Slipknot. It's now officially "dad rock."*

But I haven't really paid that much attention to the band for a long time, and they're not really in my regular listening rotation. Hell, I barely know the songs on All Hope Is Gone. What better time, then, to revisit this catalog, to understand why I liked it so much and see whether any of it holds up. Now, a 15-years-removed look at Slipknot.**

"(sic)" was a suitably raging introduction to the teenage me. Throughout the album there's plenty of that rage, and it's still more than a little infectious. Examining the simple riffs now, though, I understand why so many people don't consider this metal. The rhythmic structures just aren't right for that. The percussion is still interesting, but it somehow takes three men to do a job that's not the equal of many black/death metal drummers. Not that it's important: To a younger me, the idea that it took nine people to make this racket was a point in their favor, whether the racket really should have taken that many to create was a question that never occurred to me.

Corey Taylor's seemingly effortless blend of singing and screaming has, ever since, been the template preferred by mainstream metal bands and metal bands with mainstream aspirations, and with good reason. "Wait and Bleed," in particular, holds up pretty well. (It's also one of the few songs I can still sing entirely from memory, a capella if need be.) "Surfacing" and "Liberate" also hold up remarkably well, and choruses to some of the other songs are pretty great ("Me Inside" for one). I also enjoy the attempts at dark and eerie mood, like "Scissors," "Tattered and Torn," and "Prosthetics."

But then there are the rap bits. Many metalheads enjoy at least some rap, and always want to tell the rest of us about it, but I am not one of them. I can handle the growl-raps of "Spit It Out," but the parts on "No Life" and "Interloper" are almost unlistenable. The latter, with its clumsy chorus, is the big stinking pile of shit in the middle of an otherwise pretty OK album.

Well, "pretty OK" might be a slight undersell. Despite its flaws, I still feel that this is a good record, despite its flaws. Maybe that's because I can't fully get away from feelings of nostalgia, or maybe not.

The Verdict: 3.5 out of 5 stars

* I'm really suspicious of the term "dad rock," and I don't think it's genuinely meaningful--it's more a way to half-assedly put down music for illegitimate reasons. But I do appreciate the irony of a couple of mostly conservative dads going to see a band whose legend was build on teenage rebellion.

** My copy does not have "Frail Limb Nursery" or "Purity."


  1. I never got into Slipknot. At the point in my musical journey when I would have really enjoyed them, I listened to Korn and Mushroomhead, and with the exception of a few songs I just kind of missed the connection.

    1. Korn was my first nu-metal band. I picked up Life Is Peachy as part of my Columbia House buy back in '97 or '98. Mushroomhead came later for me, like it did for most people (after lots of people pointed out the similarities to Slipknot, who were already famous) but I did/do still occasionally enjoy a few songs from XX and XIII.