Slipknot’s ‘We Are Not Your Kind’ is a dark and exhilarating return
Twenty years have passed since Slipknot’s debut album, Slipknot. Since then, the band has released five successful records and played hundreds of huge bombastic live shows. Slipknot became one of the biggest names in metal throughout the past 20 years with their nine members, unique sound, and pure rage and aggression. Five years have passed since their last album, .5 the Gray Chapter, and during that time, longtime percussionist Chris Fehn left the group due to a legal dispute earlier this year. All of the troubles the band have been through resonate perfectly through the record. The aggression and brutality returned along with the band’s experimental side working together perfectly. Slipknot used the same producer from the last record, Greg Fidelman. However, We Are Not Your Kind (WANYK) has a rougher edge to the production that .5 the Gray Chapter was missing. The songwriting is as strong as ever, the songs are heavy, and the album actually feels as if it were made by the entire band.
A full band effort
One of the biggest issues many people have with Slipknot is the confusion on where some of the members are in the mix. They have a DJ, two extra percussionists, and a samples/synth player along with the drums, guitars, and vocals. The first two records found their contributions necessary, but the last three…not so much. WANYK finds all the members at the top of their game. “Red Flag” shows off the tight riffs and strong percussion; but it also features ambient noises, turntable screeches, and a full percussive sound. Most of the songs on the record have those features and really show the full potential of having nine members. “Birth of the Cruel” is another great example. The song starts with an eerie sample that cuts right into a tribal sounding drum beat that could’ve been found on the band’s debut. “Spiders” also finds the band playing off each other well, with the creepy piano melody, weird samples, and a thumping bass and guitar riff. A criticism of albums past is that only five members of the band could really be heard, but on WANYK, the band digs deep and shows off each member’s contribution in a way that hasn’t been done in over a decade.
The strongest set of songs in years
There will never be another album like Iowa. Slipknot cannot go back and recreate a sound that was determined by their own personal lives at the time and I don’t think any group could ever do that. However, almost every single song on WANYK is strong enough to stand side-by-side with Iowa. “Nero Forte” (a soon-to-be fan favorite), “Orphan” and “Critical Darling” all contain the classic aspects of a Slipknot song. However, the band flips those aspects upside down with unconventional song structures and the presence of all nine members. “A Liar’s Funeral” is a really special track from the bunch. It goes from slow acoustic sounds, to heavy chugging, to a medley of both making it the perfect all-around Slipknot song.
The flow of the album is outstanding. The songs never get tiring or overstay their welcome, there aren’t any redundant tracks, and there aren’t any tracks that simply don’t belong. Each song has its place. Even the experimental tracks like “Spiders” and “My Pain” are extraordinary and do the job of portraying the emotions of the band. But nothing on the album compares to the second single and album closer, “Solway Firth.” It is a harrowing song that encapsulates all of singer Corey Taylor’s pain from divorce. The song structure is off-kilter and unlike any Slipknot single before. The song acts as an amazing closer and a truly emotional song. But the real blow comes from the last line of the album, “You want a real smile? / I haven’t smiled in years.”
The performances from the band really pop and make the songs what they are. The melodies and lyrics would not be as good if it wasn’t Taylor singing them and the instrumentals would not be anything without the rest of the group. The riffs are played with speed and aggression from Mick Thompson, the melodic notes pop from Jim Root. But the real talent here is Jay Weinberg, the band’s newer drummer. He delivered on all fronts for WANYK, creating thrashing drum beats that never get old. The passion can be heard in the performances of the band.
Some minor nitpicks
The album is still not perfect, unfortunately. The first single and song on the album “Unsainted” sticks out like a sore thumb. The song is the catchy radio hit like “Before I Forget,” “Duality,” and “Dead Memories.” It feels as if the band made it because they had to. The riff and percussion feel generic and it, of course, has a big catchy chorus that Slipknot have done a million times before. It certainly is not a bad song, but it is definitely Slipknot treading old water. Another tiny problem is that some parts aren’t as memorable as others. “Not Long for This World” has a great chorus, but the rest of the song isn’t very memorable. Again, very minor nitpicks.
A Liar’s Funeral
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