Thursday, October 2, 2008

Slipknot: All Hope Is Gone - A Review

UPFRONT ANALYSIS:
If there ever was a reason for me to get of my ass and go downtown to purchase a CD, the time was now. I walked into the new "HMV" in the new Sudbury Centre and passed the cardboard sign at the entrance featuring the newest dish from Slipknot, "All Hope Is Gone". The cover is the band out in a farmer's field with their latest headgear. Oh yes, must not forget the pentagram on the cover only visible when the light shines on it in a particular way.
After recording and touring for the "Iowa" section of the Slipknot legacy members separated and went the ever-popular, side project route. Instead of Slipknot, we got Murderdolls and Stone Sour. Murderdolls fell into the typical sound common in metal today with a few standout tracks. Stone Sour exposed a mellower and cleaner side of Corey Taylor and friends who followed. The music was like the radio friendly rock heard on the hard rock radio stations with an extra edge. Mr. Taylor chose a more melodic vocal approach instead of the harsh barks and growls he was previously known for. It wasn't a surprise that Corey had vocal abilities outside of the metal howl and Stone Sour made some great songs because of it.
Bring it all back together again for Slipknot's newest album and we get a more structured Slipknot with a singer who is expressing more vocal talent. Instead of the confusion and chaos the band made their name on, they became a more sophisticated band trying to making more serious music. The individual musicianship has improved, and more came to light. So what does this all mean? When you throw this disc in you get the heavy driven sounds that brought Slipknot to life with a more thoughtful vocal approach laid over top. Some fans of the hardcore metal genre may say Slipknot is falling from their pedestal, but it's my belief they are just climbing a different tower now.

THE BONUS DVD "Nine: The Making Of: All Hope Is Gone"
Add some quirky shots of the band members wearing masks of disproportionate values of their true faces, a bit of fireworks and some "over the shoulder" views of the studio and it makes, "Nine." It does a great job of showing the bands darkened perspective of art with a combination of showing a group of guys in the studio making an album. Don't expect any of Metallica's "Some Kind of Monster" drama here, just a simple "making of" dvd, like the title says.

TRACK-BY TRACK:
"execute"
A typical mix of noise and percussion like the starting tracks to previous albums.

"Gematria (The Killing Name)"
Fans of the "Iowa" album are going to enjoy this number which is quite reminiscent of the work on that album. Quick blasts of percussion with some of the signature riffing they became known for. Also one of the tracks on the album where Corey remains aggressive in nature.

"Sulfur"
Double bass drumming, heavy chording with a very fast overlay. The energy of the first song continues onto this track with this familiar sounding song. Barking verses and a sung chorus.

"Psychosocial"
I like the playing around with timing with this song, fast, pause, fast type stuff. There is also a pulsating drumbeat to really drive this song along. It has that "Before I Forget" kind of groove going on but dare I say the bridge after the chorus sounds a little cheesy.

"Dead Memories"
This song seems to remind me more of a Stone Sour song than Slipknot. Oddly timed guitar with random squeels and very cleanly sung by Corey. All those hard rock radio stations are already queuing this one up. I'm not saying it's not a good song, in fact it's a great song. It just seemed a little too "hooky" after the previous songs. I'm not aware of how this album is being promoted but I can smell a single.

"Vendetta"
I love it. A galloping drumbeat to a some tremolo picking bringing you back to the old days of metal. It changes to some solid riffage and becomes a song that would of been a suiting bonus track for "Vol. 3: Subliminal Verses."

"Butcher's Hook"
Very jumpy intro that demands your attention which brings you into one of the angriest tracks on the album. The song sounds like it's going through a meat grinder and if you are a fan of Slipknot, then you know this is a good thing. "Good ahead and disagree / I'm giving up again."

"Gehenna"
Dark, slow grind, weird lyrics. It will be interesting to see how this song comes across in the live format. Takes the electronics out of Slipknot and just becomes a heavy, slow, dark song.

"The Cold Black"
Enter heavy metal band with strange noises in the background with an angry singer snarling out his vocal input. Heavy, fast, rocking song. See ya in the pits for this one.

"Wherein Lies Continue"
I love this intro. A nice and thick chunky layer of riffage with Corey's signature growl.

"Snuff"
Circle, Vermillion, Bother, Sillyworld. There's a mellower side of the craziness that becomes Slipknot and this nice little song shows it. Crooning Corey about a previous loss, some acoustic guitars with weird background noises.

"All Hope Is Gone"
The last song of the cd is title track and it is another fast paced, pulsating number which should please Slipknot's even most hardcore of fans. Speed is mandatory until the breakdown where the warning to the world is belted out, "All Hope Is Gone".

You need to pay your extra $4 to continue.

"Child of Burning Time"
Slayer-esque riffing introduction with squealchy guitars. That tribal timing kicks in a Corey's softer voice lets loose. I was kind of waiting for the heavier part that didn't come, but still an enjoyable song with a nice instrumental "rock out" for the ending.

"Vermillion Pt 2. (Bloodstone Mix)"
Another version of Vermillion. This one is very mellow with a digital backing with Taylor's singing with some extra reverb and echo. Any more versions of this song are made and the next cd could be nothing but Vermillion songs. A decent song but two versions on the last album was enough for me.

"'Til We Die"
Another slow one with some weird song effects and a guitarist who likes playing around with his fx board. It may be disappointing to the more hardcore of Slipknot fans, but it's also a song that can reach out to a newer audience.


THE WRAP-UP
The chaos they are known for mixed in with some newer attempts of originality and some mellow songs to ensure a little extra radio play make this album a worthy purchase. HMV sold me the bonus version for 18.99 with the the dvd and the extra songs. The standard version is 14.99 and if you are a card carrying member of the Slipknot army you might as well go with the bonus and get the extras for $4.


Corey J. McKenzie

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