Thursday, October 30, 2014

Slipknot: All Hope Is Gone (2008)

Or is it?

I’ve been going back over the discography of Slipknot, because they were an important gateway band for me. Finally I’ve come to the last of their previous studio albums. This one is a bit different to me personally. Whereas their first three albums got a whole lot of spins from me in an earlier time, and have a lot of nostalgia value, my view of All Hope Is Gone is not clouded by such feelings. By the time it came out in 2008, I was already hooked by Suffocation and fully into a death metal obsession. I listened to it, sure, but I was more interested in more extreme things by that point.

Without that familiarity, I’m really forming a first solid impression of the record here. And early on, I started to think it was better than its spotty, artsy predecessor. It doesn’t attempt anything pretentious, early on, but instead is Slipknot being Slipknot. “Sulfur” has a metal riff and a sing-along chorus plus a DJ part, and “Psychosocial” is more hard rock with a shout-along part. It doesn’t get much more Slipknot than that combination. I find myself liking the written-for-rock-radio “Dead Memories” (with metal parts but mostly a hard rock song with emotional chorus) despite myself. They follow that up by the absolutely-metal riff of “Vendetta,” which is a good way to keep it going.

But then the record goes into a terrible slump. “Butcher’s Hook” has an awkward riff that sounds like a bad Meshuggah impersonation, with a terrible chorus. It’s real shit; the nondescript “The Cold Black” and the uninspired “Where Lies Continue” aren’t much better. “Snuff” and “’Til We Die” are basically Stone Sour songs. The title track is good enough, but not on the level of the good early tracks on the record.

So, even though it got off to a good start, I’d have to say this is the weakest album in Slipknot’s discography. But I haven’t listened to the new one yet. I got it a day early for buying a ticket to their Omaha show (it’s a week from today), so I think now is the time to give it a first spin.

The Verdict: 3 out of 5 stars

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