2019 has continued to pummel the average Rock music connoisseur with release after release of solid quality albums and yet, just like all good sadomasochists in an illegal S&M brothel somewhere off the outskirts of Eastbourne, we take it with a grin and have the audacity to pay for more. August is being seen by some as one of the more bigger months on releases, with Tool taking the award for “how many metal elitists can we collectively circle jerk in one go?”. However, their day of reckoning will come, presumably because I am the only critic on this site with a death wish to actually not have a high enough IQ to review them.
However, today is Slipknot’s judgement. Slipknot have been teasing their album ‘We Are Not Your Kind‘ since last Halloween with their teaser song of the same name. The one thing Slipknot can lay claim to, is that when their albums are not just mere releases, but an event. An event that takes all fans of the genre through the motions of excitable fangasms to crushing bitter cynicism of how they are the last vestige of ‘derivative cookie monster rock’ being blamed for Screamo, Slam Metal and the presidency of Donald Trump.
The eighteen legged Iowan hate machine’s sixth studio effort lives up to the experience well, by making the album a seventy minute long experience. The difference between ‘We Are Not Your Kind’ and their last album ‘The Gray Chapter‘ is that the latter album had some solid songs, but felt disjointed in places. ‘We Are Not Your Kind’ forces you to listen to this album as a whole, as skipping even one track doesn’t make the puzzle pieces fit together very well.
Kicking off with the minute and a half long synth shifts of ‘Insert Coin‘ we are then taken to the bands first single of ‘Unsainted‘ a barn burner of a song that takes to every dark corner of your own psyche, before being dragged genitals first into ‘Birth of the Cruel‘ a song that does hark back to Slipknot’s older sound of down tuned groove guitar work that will make anyone head bang aggressively waiting in the queue for their bakery goods in Greggs.
What helps the album’s seventy minute experience is that every couple of songs we have little interludes such as ‘Death Because Of Death‘ and ‘What’s Next‘, a chance for one to catch their breath and try to comprehend what is exactly they are listening too. In some respects these songs give Slipknot the chance to explore their more ambiguous and creative sides, before giving the fans what they paid for and thrashing out mosh pit worthy anthems, that will have any fan screaming back to the stage.
My personal highlight came from the two songs ‘Nero Forte‘ and ‘Critical Darling‘, two songs that remarkably show different shades of who Slipknot are. ‘Nero Forte’ shows the Slipknot of old, it’s heavy, unforgiving, the marching drums will make you pound your chest in a tribal manner and Corey Taylor’s rap style screaming is still on point 20 years on; this could easily fit into their earlier bodies of work, such as ‘Iowa‘ or ‘The Subliminal Verses‘.
‘Critical Darling’ is the very next song. but a juxtaposition to its previous song, it’s still brutal to listen to, with the crashing intro of frantic drums and guitar word, but its belter of a chorus shows the more refined and mature nature we have witnessed Slipknot evolve to during the tragic aftermath of Paul Gray’s passing. This is where the ‘We Are Not Your Kind’ shows its true strength, it’s bridging of old and new is almost seamless that there is no earthly reason why fans should complain.
However, this is the Metal community. They’ll find a reason bitch about it because it doesn’t sound like Iron Maiden or some s**t.
Towards the second half the album, ‘We Are Not Your Kind’ goes down a more creative yet slower path, while songs such as ‘Red Flag‘ and ‘Orphan‘ still churns out pit anthems. Songs such as ‘Liars Funeral‘ and ‘My Pain‘ show something that Slipknot have tried to attempt in previous albums but just miss the mark – disturbing ballads, that make for uneasy listening, but for different reasons. ‘Liars Funeral’ has the that feeling of the death of a union or friendship, an uneasy experience for anyone to experience and its doom inspired feelings of despair does not soothe the ugly honesty.
‘My Pain’ is a love song. Yes, you read that right. A love song for those who are at their most desperate to piece together what is already ruined and its maddening final steps towards complete insanity. The musical style screams a dark Gothic/New Romantic style, but with far more predatory and unnerving lyrics and trust me, if you read some of those lyrics from that era, that’s an amazing feat in of itself.
After the final chord of ‘Solway Firth‘ you would be forgiven to think that ‘We Are Not Your Kind’ isn’t just a contender for album of 2019, but the best album Slipknot have ever done full stop and that is something not to be taken lightly. Every album Slipknot has given have always given us a high standard quality of work, but this the first Slipknot album you have to listen to front to back in order to understand the bigger picture.
‘We Are Not Your Kind’ still has that trademark aggression Slipknot are known for, but that aggression has been refined to the point it is a nuclear weapon. Every song is calculated cultural warfare to the world we live in, both outside and inside our heads and after six albums Slipknot has reached their zenith as artists. It is going to be hard for Slipknot to topple this album, its bold strokes shows why they are still seen favourably by the mainstream, despite being part of a genre that’s seen as the b*****d red haired step child.
We are truly not worthy to have an album at the level of ‘We Are Not Your Kind’.