Sometimes people spend their whole lives trying to find the perfect conditions to create, and sometimes people create when it seems like the universe gets in their way at every turn. Slipknot have weathered so much since the release of their last album, All Hope is Gone, that it seems easy to predict the failure of their latest output because producing something good seems near impossible.
But is that the case? Not even close. Slipknot have – somehow, against all odds – done it. The Gray Chapter is brilliant. An incomprehensible achievement for the remaining 7.
The first song, XIX, is a daring way to begin; the band’s harshest critics have complained about the similarities between Slipknot and Stone Sour, so it’d be understandable for Slipknot to begin with something as terrifyingly dark as Iowa’s . Instead, The Gray Chapter begins with haunting bagpipes and Corey singing instead of shouting. It’s exceptional.
Being perhaps one of the most consistent Slipknot albums for a long time, almost every song has potential to become Metal Anthem of the Year. Skeptic is heavy, but has an unforgettable chorus and a brutal bridge towards the end that is going to sound insane live; lyrically, it’s a touching tribute to Paul Gray.
Taylor’s vocal versatility is spectacular, and fans of early Slipknot will be grateful his old rapping vocal style is back on tracks like Custer, a song so merciless it has to immediately become a quintessential ‘knot track.
They always give us a slow song, but The Gray Chapter is so heavy that their slow song isn’t actually that slow. Grief is a common theme among these tracks, but they never really musically reel it in too much.Killpop and Goodbye come closest to the Snuff-like sombre mood but both come packing massive crescendos.
Slipknot without Joey or Paul has always seemed unthinkable, but the devoted fans will love The Gray Chapter and anyone who thinks Slipknot’s best work lies in Iowa and their self titled debut may just consider this a real return to form. It’s one of the most successful contemporary examples of pain turned into art and it’s already looking like the best metal album of the year.