October 23, 2014 Slipknot – .5: The Gray Chapter (Album Review)
Back in 1995, one of the most recognized bands in modern Heavy Metal was spawned in the most unlikely location of Des Moines, Iowa. Initially called The Pale Ones, the band was founded by percussionist Shawn Crahan and bassist Paul Gray. After many line up changes, this band would soon become known as Slipknot, a nine piece monster unlike anything many had seen before. After self-releasing Mate. Feed. Kill on Halloween in 1996, they received a limited amount of airplay on local radio stations. This however, did not spark interest from any popular labels. Reluctant to give up, they went back to the drawing board adding more melodic vocals to their sound by recruiting Corey Taylor as their frontman. Corey was the lead singer for a local band named Stone Sour at that time. In early 1998, the band then produced a second demo with tracks exclusively for record labels. In late June of the same year, Slipknot received a $500,000 seven album deal from the Metal label, Roadrunner Records. After signing publicly, the band then traveled to Malibu, CA to work on their debut album shortly after scoring their first tour as part of Ozzfest in 1999. This was a big year for them between the tour, their self-titled album, the home video ‘Welcome to Our Neighborhood’ and their two hit singles; “Wait and Bleed” and “Spit It Out”. In 2000, the fans grew as well as the airplay on the radio and Slipknot went platinum with much buzz floating around the masked rockers.
Upon releasing their sophomore album Iowa in 2001, Slipknot’s success continued with peak a position at number three on the Billboard album charts. After some conflicts following their quick rise to stardom, the band went on a hiatus without giving their fans any indication if the band would make a come back or not. In the middle of 2003, the band did regroup themselves and record what would be their third studio album released in 2004 titled Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses) to much fanfare. Once again going on a brief hiatus, it was not until the end of 2007 that they would get together for the band’s fourth album All Hope Is Gone (2008). Slipknot took another break in 2009 so that some of its members could work on popular side-projects such as Stone Sour. Unfortunately, tragedy struck the band on May 24th 2010 when Gray was found deceased in his hotel room. After many conflicting statements and feelings about keeping Slipknot a band, they decided to regroup and tour through Europe. With no plans of replacing Gray, Slipknot had to do their best to carry on with him. As a way to keep themselves busy, they developed their own festival called Knotfest. When the announcement came down in late 2013 that Slipknot would in fact be working on a new album, fans pulse rates accelerated in excitement. Titled .5: The Gray Chapter, this album marks the first release without long-time drummer Joey Jordison, reunites the band with producer Greg Fidelman for the first time since 2004, and after high anticipation, the album is finally unleashed here fittingly a little more than a week before Halloween 2014.
Beginning with a heart felt intro of “XIX” listeners can feel the trials and tribulations that have been endured through the grungy sounding and powerful lyrics. With a slightly new sound coming from the drums, “Sarcastrophe” nails that well known and loved sound of Slipknot. Heavy guitar riffs and intense vocals break the ground for everything the album has in store. “The Devil In I” sends you spinning through a whirlpool of mellow dramatic emotions that can be felt in the wading pool before sending you on the ride all over again. Memories of Gray tug your heart strings with the masterminded track “Goodbye”. “Maybe we can all recognize a moment of silence, Maybe we can all agree on the same point of view. Long time ago we believed we were united, so the last thing on earth I’m ready to do is say goodbye.” Memories of loved ones will forever remain in your heart when hearing this song.
With emotions running high, the album picks back up and sends the listener into a trance yearning to hear what is yet to follow. The double bass in the drumming and intriguing sound effects to “Custer” are a brilliant combination to Slipknots distinct sound. On “If Rain Is What You Want” a downpour of heavy rain fills the ears and mind of listeners. The rain sprinkles nice and easy at first before the flooding to follow through to the special edition bonus track “Override.” Wrapping up the special edition of .5: The Gray Chapter is “The Burden”, which keeps the downpour between lyrics and the musical spine holding them together creating a perfect ending.
Do not forget to grab an umbrella for the monsoon of emotion which is .5: The Gray Chapter. Slipknot has overcome the devastating reality of losing one of their founding members and dear friends. In the way the album plays out, it is an experience the fans have to overcome as well. With every intensely written note and heart felt lyric, CrypticRock gives .5: The Gray Chapter 5 out of 5 stars.