Slipknot - .5: The Gray Chapter (Roadrunner)

Release Date: 
20 Oct 2014 - 11:30pm

Since the untimely death of bassist Paul Gray in 2010 – hence the name of this, Slipknot’s fifth studio full-lengther – a miasma of rumour  and debate has surrounded Iowa’s favourite sons, the self-fulfilling culmination of same apparently coming in the acrimonious departure of the previously seemingly unsackable drummer Joey Jordison last year. Such washing of dirty linen – albeit without the actual reasons ever really coming to light – has had something of a tarnishing effect on Slipknot, reducing them in standing in the public eye from masked marauders, larger than life and twice as metal, to something approaching just another metal band, mired in the normality of everyday tedium and triviality just like the rest of us.

There’s no denying that Jordison was a big – maybe too big – influence on the ‘Knot sound, so it’s justifiable to ask whether his departure has had a deleterious effect on …Chapter. The answer, unequivocally, is no. .5: is a seething, febrile beast of an album, barely holding itself together at times under the sheer weight of rage being unloaded by the band’s remaining members; Mix this in with some of Corey Taylor’s signature post-grunge crooning – the band reach heights of melody at times that even in their most blissed out reveries they can’t have imagined they’d manage to shoehorn into a slipknot album – and what you have is easily their best album since 2001’s gargantuan Iowa

Iowa in fact is probably this album’s major touchstone. The whole feel of .5: seems to be one of yearning to get away from the increasingly one-dimensional death metal thud of albums like All Hope is Gone and back to what made this band such a viable proposition in the first place. Hence the sound, is at once both rawer and more processed, the raw coming from the gratifyingly basic- sounding production job of Greg Fidelman, the processed sounds coming from a seemingly re-energised Craig Jones, who looms large throughout, adding to the air of claustrophobia and rage that bubbles just under the album’s surface aat all times.

Tracks like the superb The Devil in I and Killpop really are fit to take their place in the first rank of the Slipknot oeuvre, whilst the schizophrenic If Rain is What You Want sees every part of the Slipknot palette coming together in a vicious synchronicity that many bands hanker after but few ever attain.

This then, is Slipknot for a new era, overcoming tribulations both man-made and natural in triumphant, not to say devastating style. .5; is the sound of victory – and it sounds good.