Release Date: Oct 21, 2014
Record label: Roadrunner Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Heavy Metal
There’s something almost unreal about listening to the new Slipknot album for the first time. Not so much the music itself (though some of that is indeed quite the mind-fuck, as well), but rather the fact that it even exists in the first place. After Paul Gray’s tragic and untimely passing in 2010, the question of whether or not the 'Knot would ever actually make another record without their fallen bassist and co-founder has lingered—and the possibility of it happening somehow seemed even more remote with the departure of drummer Joey Jordison last December.
The loss of Paul Gray haunts Slipknot's first record in six years. As it should. Up until his sudden death in 2010, Gray served as bassist, key songwriter and, in a band that aggressively embraces the idea of extended family like few others, brother. Throw in the firing of drummer Joey Jordison last December and the structural damage looked beyond repair.
While even a cursory listen to Slipknot's back catalog makes it clear the band are no strangers to working out their inner turmoil and pain through their music, never has that idea been so abundantly clear as it is on their fifth outing, .5: The Gray Chapter. Their first studio album since 2008's All Hope Is Gone, the album finds the band still recovering from the loss of founding bassist Paul Gray, whose death in 2010 hit them pretty hard. Rather than allowing their pain and anger destroy them, they were able to harness that energy and focus it, allowing them to create one of their most visceral and dynamic albums to date.
Given the circumstances surrounding the making of Slipknot’s fifth album – the death of bassist Paul Gray and the terse departure of drummer Joey Jordison – fans have been bracing themselves for disappointment. But despite a refreshed lineup and a six-year gap since fourth album All Hope Is Gone, there is little evidence that Slipknot’s focus has wavered or their sonic scalpel blunted. Although thematically tethered to the aftermath of their comrade’s passing, .5: The Gray Chapter is every bit as warped and explosive as previous records, with songs such as Skeptic, AOV and The Negative One harking back to the swivel-eyed thuggery of their early material.
Slipknot begins . 5: The Gray Chapter, their first album after a death and the departure of two original members, with the declaration, "This song is for the dead. " It's a fitting dedication, in tandem with the album title, to deceased bassist Paul Gray, whose death and the resultant emotional fallout serve as the muse for many of the album's lyrics.
Losing a close friend too early is something that no one should ever have to experience. It washes over you like an ice cold wave that instantly numbs your whole body. Once that wave recedes, you’re left with a multitude of emotions you refuse to accept. You get angry at the world or at your friend for disappearing, but then you get angry at yourself for ever thinking such an awful thing about someone you loved.
Slipknot were the craziest, and some might say funniest, band to come out of the early- 2000s nu-metal scene – nine children of the Iowa corn in horror-clown masks, like the demon spawn of Sepultura and the Blue Man Group. They've outlasted many of their peers, and their fifth album, inspired by the OD death of bassist Paul Gray, is quite the heavy-duty emotional enema, funneling the band's grief into speed-dirge explosions ("Custer," "The Negative One") and artier doom-wallows like "XIX," where Shawn "Clown" Crahan tells us, "This song is not for the living/This song is for the dead." It's highly recommended for the living dead too. .
Like most bands who have existed for a couple of decades, Slipknot's history is littered with trials and tribulations; from chart-smashing records (including a 2006 Grammy for 'Before I Forget') and massive headline shows/tours to the death of one of their founding members, bassist Paul Gray, in May 2010 and the recent dismissal of another, drum demon Joey Jordison. So, given the circumstances, the fact Slipknot's fifth studio album isn't a monumental clusterfuck is a surprise in itself. What's more surprising, however, is the fact that .5: The Gray Chapter sees the band instil some of the same incendiary emotion into their music that fuelled the hell-fire of their eponymous debut and terminally bleak second album IOWA.