While the identities of Slipknot‘s new drummer and bassist are widely believed to be Jay Weinberg & Alessandro ‘Vman’ Venturella respectively - the band themselves may never fully confirm it. Guitarist Jim Root told Guitar World:
“We’re not saying who the new drummer is. Even if people find out beyond a shadow of a doubt who the new drummer is, I think we’re always going to deny who it is. He might not last. He might tour with us a year and figure out we’re all insane and he can’t handle being around us. Or we might shut him out. Who knows? For Slipknot, I’d say drumming is only 50 or 60 percent of the job. The rest of it is who you are and what your personality is. Will you clash with guys like me, Mick, Clown, Corey, Craig and Chris? We all have these strong alpha-male personalities.”
On the bassist front, Jim Root stated that both he and fellow guitarist Mick Thomson handled the bulk of the playing in the studio. At one point touring bassist (and former guitarist) Donnie Steele was involved with the studio sessions for the bands new album “.5: The Gray Chapter“. However, things didn’t pan out, as Root explains:
“Donnie’s a great guy. We brought him in to help us out in the studio for a while. But it wasn’t really jivin’. He wanted to go home and get married and do all that stuff. It’s just better off for us to kinda move on from Donnie.”
Posted on: 09 Oct 2014
A new Slipknot album is always going to be an event, but this really is something else. A whole lot has changed in the six long years that have passed since the 'Knot's last record, All Hope Is Gone. They're two founder members down, for a start: Paul Gray, of course, tragically passed away in 2010, and Joey Jordison, the diminutive percussive powerhouse, was ousted last year.
1. The mystery drummer
Ok, so we start with the one thing we didn't learn - who the hell is playing drums?!
While rumours persist that former Against Me drummer Jay 'son of Max' Weinberg is the man at the kit, there has been no confirmation from the Slipknot camp, and it seems that the band have no plans to officially unveil the identities of their new drummer or bass player.
2. They're not hiding the mystery man's playing
Whoever it is at the kit, they have done an incredible job. It would have been easy for Slipknot to have come out and hidden their new drummer's work beneath Corey Taylor's roar and the monstrous guitar work of Jim Root and Mick Thomson, but instead, the new boy is put right up front and centre and basically told to give it his best. It's a brave move - Jordison is so adored that the playing by his replacement on this record will be picked apart - but we think it's one that pays off.
3. This guy brought his A game
The real drumming action starts on the record's second track, Sarcastrophe. It's got the lot, kicking off with big, high-pitched toms, before an almighty wave of crashes. We're smashed around the chops with pummeling double bass and scattergun fills all over the kit, but there's plenty of light to go with the shade thanks to some neat snare, kick and hat interplay, something that becomes a theme that runs throughout the drum work on the record. This is the sound of a drummer keen to impress, and one who has the chops to back up his lofty ambitions.
4. It's lyrically dark
To be expected, but The Gray Chapter is most definitely a dark, uncomfortable listen when it comes to lyrics. Opener XIX is dark, brooding and - when it comes to drums - sparsely populated. Taylor gives us the first glimpse of the raw lyrical journey we're about to set out on by screaming, "Don't let this f***ing world tear you apart".
The shadow of Paul Gray's loss clearly hangs heavily over the band. Skeptic is centred around the lyric, "The world will never know another man as amazing as you, the world will never know another crazy mother f**ker like you," while Goodbye's, "No one is bulletproof" could be a nod to either Paul Gray or Joey Jordison.
5. Musically, it's not quite so dark...
While The Gray Chapter may be punishing lyrically, it has its fair share of lighter musical moments. Stone Sour-ish melodic choruses dovetail with brutal, double kick-led verses on tracks like Killpop.
6. Joey will be missed
The six years between Slipknot records have been crushingly difficult for the band, and they sound like they're very much in transition. The new man at the kit has done an impressive job, but it could be argued that The Gray Chapter misses the spark of Jordison's signature drumming.
“.5: The Gray Chapter” is due in stores October 21st on Roadrunner. Pre-Order the brand new album now from iTunes / Amazon.com.
Posted on: 06 Oct 2014
"XIX" opens up with a distorted bagpipe-sounding keyboard patch, a glockenspiel and an acoustic guitar in the background. Corey Taylor's vocals come in over the eerie soundscape alongside muted drums quietly keeping the beat and Taylor's voice just sounds strained in a fed up, pissed off way. "XIX" is interesting because it keeps building on a lot of additional instrumentation, volume increases and layered vocal harmonies seeping into frame. The main scratchy, sickening soundscape remains constant and you can almost feel Taylor glaring at you. It seems like Slipknot is trying to make you feel uneasy and scared with this track.
The song builds and builds, edging toward total paranoia, and finally arrives at… nothing. Everything falls apart and you're left with the original soundscape in extreme disrepair. It’s you're expecting something to jump out at you from behind a curtain. You reach toward it and there's nothing behind it, but you're pretty sure there's someone breathing down the back of your neck now.
"Sarcastrophe" picks up where "XIX" left off in terms of mood. There’s light percussion, effected clean guitars and a bubbling static noise. Things pick up with the addition of cymbals and distorted guitars. Then, out of nowhere, a drum fill and you're thrown into the midst of Corey Taylor growling his fucking face off. The heaviness arrives in the same way the band did heaviness on their debut record- plenty of heft in terms of a traditional metal band, but with more percussion going on and the added madness of DJ electronically adding layers of insanity.
It’s immediately noticeably that this is not the Slipknot you think you're getting. This is a Slipknot that is righteously pissed off. There's blasts, there's tremolo-picked riffs and there's non-conventional breakdowns that include sampling and keyboard work and aren't drum centric. There's a strange, airy quality to the heaviness of this song. It's not this laser-focused precision that's cut and dry. It’s haunting, terrifying and larger than life. It's as if Slipknot were this spectral being here to kill you, but slowly… painfully.
"AOV" is driving in the same way the members of Amon Amarth are just kind of vikings. The combination of double bass and percussive attacks on the downbeats give the song a militaristic stomping quality while guitars simply drive like tanks through your speakers and keyboards sound the air raid sirens as if it were the end of days. There's a big hooky chorus that pops up between the bursts of violence that's going to get stuck in your head, and that's just the first half of the song. What surprised me was the interlude toward the middle of the track.
During the interlude, the majority of the band fades off and featured prominently, providing the melody aside from a tinkling piano and dreamy, swirling guitars, is the bassist. I'd go as far as calling this a bass solo. It’s melodious and has a sense of direction in that it touches on what the guitars are doing in the background but doesn't stick to them. With the band still mourning former bassist Paul Gray, I wasn't sure if this was going to be Slipknot's …And Justice For All.
It is not.
Everyone knows this song already, so I'll keep it brief. This is straight up classic Slipknot via their Iowa days with a heavy dose of that unsettling heaviness I’ve mentioned. It's also the slowest song up to this point (barring the introductory track) and I'd even say the least heavy.
Do not underestimate how much heavier this band has gotten.
The intro to "Killpop" brings back that "XIX" phantasm keyboard sound along with plodding drums doubled up by what sounds like an electronic drum kit. The best way to describe "Killpop" is a ballad co-written by Satan himself and someone who is just totally empty inside. It's cold, it's slow and it seems to deal with drugs, the issue of addiction and someone taking advantage of them. "Killpop" is interesting because it relies on keyboards and alternative percussion as the main focus the song, barring the blistering guitar solo and blastfest in last forty seconds of the song.
As a quick refresher, Craig "133" Jones is listed as doing media and sampling in the band, Sid Wilson on turntables and Chris Fehn on percussion for the group. The trio has always been a part of the group's sound and a big part of the live show, but they shine in a huge way here. After listening to the record in full, I can honestly say the three have a big hand in .5: The Grey Chapter terrifying. In fact, they’ve the backbone to two of the five songs we've looked at so far!
There's a lot of references to someone dying and some else being arrested for it in “Skeptic.” I’m near positive this one is directly about Gray’s death. The chorus of the is particularly touching in both inflection as well as lyric, reading-
"The world will never see another crazy motherfucker like you.
The world will never know another man as amazing as you.”
"Skeptic" is an interesting song musically. It starts off with the typical Slipknot stomp and then launches into a Soilwork-worthy melodic death metal chorus, even using a pre-chorus section twice in two different formats that gets blindingly fast and uses a lot of chromatic, dissonant tonal work. "Skeptic" opens up the sonic space a lot throughout its runtime to be filled out entirely by (we assume) Jay Weinberg's drumming, giving the song this very punk rock feel with grindcore sense of anger.
“I know why Judas wept, motherfucker.” Those are the words that seem to boil out of Taylor’s mouth at the beginning of “Lech.” There’s no instrumentation backing him up, there’s nothing. This is between you and Taylor, and so help you he’s going to make sure you heard him.
“Lech” takes the punk feel of “Skeptic” and heaviness of “AOV,” and marries them into the sound of ten thousand soldiers with Doc Martens and six-foot mohawks curb stomping everything. There’s a few passages in the song that use effect-laden guitars that sound like broken machines and even some glitched audio that serves as a vehicle for the band to essentially make sure you’re feeling the violence. At this point, I’m noticing the main focus of Slipknot’s songwriting seems to be the flow of energy in a song- how can they make people feel something during this song, or beat the shit out of each other or even we make their pain evident.
That attention is obvious and well noted.
The bass is high up in the mix again, the creepy synths are back and there’s orchestral bells, timpanis and what sounds like a choir that got all of it’s treble and high mid frequencies stolen. The first half of the song is an ambient ballad and then about half way through the band takes the themes from the first half and transposes them onto guitars, drums, and everything else we’ll define here as the “traditional metal band.” It’s cool to hear the original themes go from these airy instruments onto heavily distorted guitars, not necessarily because it translates well, but because the contrast works amazingly to close out the song. Everything gets faster, heavier, darker and louder until there’s a brief band unison and then silence.
I’m glad this wasn’t a ballad. It would have worked just fine as a ballad, but this is Slipknot in 2014 on .5: The Gray Chapter. Fuck the rules.
This is probably a good place to mention the differentiation between keyboard patches and samples used on the record. While a lot of them are indeed terror-inducing and generally have this feel to them that can be described accurately as “nausea-inducing,” each song that uses them in whatever massive instrumental arsenal being employed uses them differently. It’s as if the sounds are tailored to each song, which harkens back to the notion that this record was meticulously written.
All this talk of the “new Slipknot heaviness” goes right out the window on this one. If you told me this was a song from Iowa that was just a little too weird to be included on the record, I would believe you. The main riff is this chunky stop-and-go kind of thing that breaks out into an odd, somewhat off-kilter melody in the chorus. “Nomadic” is a really straight forward song that employs probably some of the strangest melodies the band has used up to now. It has this seasick, chromatic feeling to it with low-toned spoken word parts here and there and another ripping guitar solo.
It’s the chorus that gets me more than anything else in this song. That angular riff that Taylor’s singing over has this counterpoint quality going for it with the riff underneath and it’s just infectious. If you could hear the instrumental version of this song, there are points where most vocalists would be left scratching their heads wondering what would fit overtop. Then again, most vocalists aren’t Corey Taylor.
“The One That Kills The Least” starts off with a riff that should signal something heavy, but instead the song stays mid-paced and gets pretty anthematic and slow touring the chorus. For some reason this song reminds me of “The Heretic Anthem” at a slower tempo, or basically any of the lighter songs from Vol. 3. The kicker to this song is that even though it’s slow, it has this anxious feeling like it wants to speed up at every turn, but just keeps backing down instead.
One of the cooler aspects of this song is the recurring guitar theme. There are a few variations of it presented throughout, both as low-down riffs and higher-up melodies or leads, but in the end it’s all still this descending pattern that seems to trip over itself initially and then tumble into place. Upon my first listen through the album I was floored at just how much fantastic guitar work there is throughout the album, with “The One That Kills The Least” being the song that finally made it click that both Mick Thomson and Jim Root are ridiculously capable at their instruments.
“Custer” starts off quickly with the band playing a hooky unison riff before breaking down into a bass drum, distorted bass and the occasional tom. Enter Corey Taylor, who starts off with a seemingly Lamb of God-influenced spoken word section before going flat out lunatic status. Right as the song explodes, there’s a quick change back to spoken word and then this four-on-the-floor chant that has everything come crashing down around you and ends on a scream that decays a little more every time it echoes off into the depths of the abyss.
This is the song that will have every single person at every single concert screaming at the top of their lungs for the chants before beating the everliving shit out of each other for the remainder of the song. This is the song you’re going to be blasting in your song when it comes on and scaring the piss out of the poor grandmother in the Buick next to you. There aren’t too many components to this one. It’s a pounding sound that takes on that electronica aesthetic of beating you submission.
Another interlude, but it’s interesting. There’s distorted speaking in the beginning that sounds like a distant voice in a tiled chamber while something is intermittently being crunched around you. That atmosphere gives way to a singular, theremin-sounding keyboard (which was there in the first place but quieter) with a much louder voice that seems to add pitches into its timbre as it continues speaking. Other than that, it’s just a break between songs.
Another song we’re all familiar with. “The Negative One” is actually a really solid example of what this album is all about and showcases a lot of the sounds I’m referencing here. It has that classic Slipknot stomp to it, it has all the hallmark DJ sounds, screeches and scratches from their earlier days and it has the hellishly nimble drumming you’re going to hear non-stop throughout the record.
I know Slipknot said “The Negative One” wasn’t technically a single off the record, but it’s a great representation of the record. Not necessarily what the whole record sounds like considering how varied it is, but it gives a pretty good idea.
“If Rain Is What You Want” is a slow burner and an excellent end to a record. It builds slowly upon the blocks of muddy guitars and vocals that seem to be sung through a blanket up to the full band mournfully culling the apocalypse one last time. Everything you have heard up to this point on the record in terms of instrumentation and mood is encompassed in this one. Whether that was purposely done or everything just happened to fit is a mystery, but much like the rest of the record everything seems to have been planned out in terms of its place in this sonic portrait.
The song isn’t trying to crush you to death anymore- the rest of the record has done that just fine. Instead, this is the song that plays over the montage as they find your body and eventually lower you into the ground as the frame widens and everything goes skyward. Even as the song reaches the apex of heaviness, there’s a very sorrowful quality to it that floats down into noise and one last verse sung before its lights out and once for all.
If it hasn't been made abundantly clear by now, let me reiterate the irrefutable fact that .5: The Gray Chapter is an extremely coherent album that will please fans who have waited and probably garner multitudes of new ones. The sequencing of songs on the record ensures a smooth listen, the writing is impeccable, the lyrics range from straightforward and emotional to sinister and cryptic and the new members fit into the group perfectly and even shine through with their musical personalities.
To sum it all up, .5: The Gray Chapter is an album that retains the classic Slipknot sonic signature while adding new flourishes and finishes the stroke with a solid stab right through the paper.
“.5: The Gray Chapter” is due in stores October 21st on Roadrunner. Pre-Order the brand new album now from iTunes / Amazon.com.
Review Credit: http://www.metalinjection.net/reviews/slipknots-5-the-gray-chapter-review-track-by-track-first-impressions
Posted on: 02 Oct 2014
Slipknot first shown their brand new masks in their new music video, 'The Devil In I'. Each day, Slipknot will be releasing a photo of each members individual mask.
This content will be updated with the release of each new mask*
“.5: The Gray Chapter” is due in stores October 21st on Roadrunner. Pre-Order the brand new album now from iTunes / Amazon.com
Posted on: 16 Sep 2014
Late Slipknot bassist Paul Gray plays a large role on the groups forthcoming new album “.5: The Gray Chapter“. Band guitarist Jim Root relayed one possibly otherworldly experience in the studio to Revolver as part of an upcoming cover story:
“It’s weird, man. I’m not a very spiritual person, and the whole religion thing, I’m kind of on the fence about a lot of that stuff. So when somebody loses someone who’s close to them and says that they’re still with them, I’ve always thought that was bullshit or whatever.
But I was out in the garage and working on an arrangement for a song that turned into either ‘The Devil In I’ or ‘Sarcastrophe.’ Normally when I write, I throw down the first thing I come up with, then I double it, then I throw a bass on it, and then I put the drums around it. But on this arrangement, I noticed that I wasn’t just throwing the riff down—I was trying different variations on it, trying different positions on the neck, and thinking about melodies while coming up with what the chord progression was going to be…
I suddenly realized, Fuck, man! That’s what Paul used to do! Paul was so meticulous. He would overthink everything, even if it was just how to get from one chord to the next chord. He would explore every possibility on the fretboard, especially if he was writing it on the guitar. And it made me go, He’s here, man—he’s helping me write this shit! And it blew my fucking mind. I had to put my guitar down, and I put my head in my hands. I was like, You fucker!”
Band frontman Corey Taylor also added of the effort:
“There’s a lot of pain on here, there’s a lot of honesty, there’s a lot of insight as far as what we’ve been through. There’s some anger, too. I mean, when you lose someone, there’s naturally part of you that gets really angry that you lost them. At the same time, you kind of have to concede that you have to be happy for the time you got with that person. A lot of stuff is pointed inwardly, as well, because naturally there’s a lot of survivor’s guilt going on, like, ‘What could I have done?’ That’s the burden of people left behind. You never get a good answer. All you can kind of do is make peace with it. And that’s what a lot of this album is about—making peace with the loss that we’ve suffered.”
Posted on: 16 Sep 2014
Corey, change is never easy but necessary sometimes to produce spectacular results. What was the most uncomfortable part of recording ‘.5: The Gray Chapter’ and how did that discomfort affect the music in a positive way?
I don’t know if it was uncomfortable, but the big difference was that it was the first album that we were doing without Paul, without Joe, and you know when you find yourself in a situation like that you either fall back on your heels or you rise to the occasion and you ask yourself how can we kind of fill in those blanks and still make the kind of music we want to listen to? So I think that the biggest thing for us was to just fill in some really big shoes. Luckily we really rose to the occasion and really kind of went above and beyond as far as musically. I’m loving this new album. I mean just as not only as a person who’s in Slipknot but just as a fan of music like this. I really love what we’ve done on this album.
It’s been four years since Paul Gray passed away. What did you need that time to do in order to get to a place where you were ready to write and record Slipknot music?
It just took us a little time to kind of figure everything out. Even though we were doing tours here and there as a collective just trying to get back on our feet, the thing that people don’t even realize is that we hadn’t even really had a chance to talk about it. That was one of the cool things about being in the studio. We were able to kind of share and talk about what we had felt that day and the days after that and just being able to share that and realizing that we’re not the only ones in that situation and it took a long time for us to really kind of get to a point where it felt like it was time to make music again. I think because we waited we were able to kind of deal with all the feelings that go into losing someone as important as Paul was.
It’s cliche to say, but, the truth is music is cathartic - both listening to it and creating it. How did writing these new songs and making this album help all of you come together both as a band as people?
The great thing is it helped us reconnect as a unit. We really all kind of stepped up and came to the table with a lot of great ideas. Clown and Jim had done a lot of legwork as far as getting a bunch of the demos and stuff together and I had written some stuff, but it wasn’t until we kind of all got our hands on the music that we really kind of started to coalesce in a way that felt like Slipknot music again and there was just a real excitement that came from all of us getting the stuff together. It felt very positive again to be making music and not only making music but making music we were stoked about and realizing that we had an opportunity to kind of let go of a lot of the heaviness that accompanied the last four years. I mean the album is really the story of the last four years of everything that we’d had to deal with as far as losing Paul.
There were some very human emotions going on with feeling guilt for being angry and feeling guilt because you get in those very vulnerable situations where you don’t know who to blame so you blame the person that you miss the most, you blame yourself because you felt like maybe you didn’t do enough. I mean, these are real emotions that maybe not a lot of people talk about and that’s some of just a little bit of what we’re talking about on this album is just helping to deal with that and really kind of getting to a place of acceptance and moving past the tragedy of it and holding onto Paul’s memory and just remembering him as a person that we deeply loved.
Which song on the new album ‘.5: The Gray Chapter’ was most difficult to get to completion and why?
As far as from an emotional standpoint, the one for me that really rung my bell was the last song on the official album, a song called ‘If Rain Is What You Want.’ That song is really a reaction to the album that people expected us to make or thought that we were going to make. Anyone who’s dealt with the kind of loss that we’ve dealt with realizes that there’s no one side to this story. There are so many different sides to it that enable you to be able to tell it honestly. You have to come at it from all these different sides and talk about some of the ugliness of losing a loved one. So, ‘If Rain Is What You Want’ is really a response and an opening up. You talk about catharsis, it was a way to let go of a lot of what we were sitting on as far as trying to get to the point where we could, I don’t want to say cry about it, but just make amends with it, really. That song is really special for that. It’s got some of my favorite lyrics in it.
Corey, you’re a KISS fan so you know they brainstormed character ideas before revealing their new drummer Eric Carr as The Fox in 1980. Has there been similar brainstorming in the Slipknot camp about creating the right onstage persona for your new drummer?
Kind of, but not really. We wanted to make something that still looked unified but still stayed with the spirit of what the band is all about. Instead of trying to find something that was individualistic, we designed — well, Clown designed a mask that the drummer and the bass player will both wear. On one hand they get a mask but at the same time, it’s not the individual mask that we in the band use. We knew that any attempt to do anything like that might be taken as disrespectful, but at the same time it’s part of the way of moving, getting past the hardest steps, which is just moving on. So, we decided that we would come up with a mask that works for both the bassist and the drummer and that’s what they’ll wear on stage.
The touring cycle for the new album kicks off with Knotfest and the lineup this year is amazing. How much is the band involved in choosing what bands to book? What criteria makes a band best suited for Knotfest?
We were very, very involved in putting this package together. The cool thing was, there was absolutely no lack of bands that were lined up to be a part of it. That was lucky for us. We were given a list of bands who were available and we went through and picked the ones that we wanted to put something together with. Then as soon as word got out that we were putting something together, we had all these bands coming out of the woodwork that wanted to be a part of this. It was the best of both worlds for us.
At the same time, it’s also a testament to the fact that we’ve been able to create something now that when we put our name on it, people understand that this isn’t something that’s put together just for show. This is quality. This is for the fans, something special, unique and it’s something that we’re always going to try and top ourselves. When bands see that we’re putting something like that together, one of the reasons why they want to be a part of it is because they know we treat it very special. We treat it in a way that maybe not a lot of other bands treat the things that they put their own name on.
Posted on: 10 Sep 2014
Slipknot .5: The Gray Chapter Confirmed Songs:
4. The Devil In I
10. The One That Kills The Least
12. Be Prepared For Hell
13. The Negative One
14. If Rain Is What You Want
15. Override” (bonus track)
16. The Burden” (bonus track)
Posted on: 25 Aug 2014
The new Slipknot album can be seen on the iTunes Store!
A special edition of the album will be released and will feature 16 tracks
The normal edition will feature 14 tracks.
iTunes Uk has a release date of October 20.
October 21 (USA)
Posted on: 25 Aug 2014
Slipknot are due to film a music video for their official first single, “The Devil In I“, from their new album this month.
The music video will be filmed in the Los Angeles, CA area on August 22nd-23rd with the band having recently fulfilled a casting call for “human maggots” to appear in the clip. Slipknot‘s new album is presently expected out in October.
Posted on: 25 Aug 2014