In 1999, people were freaking out over Y2K. Limp Bizkit and Korn were a few of the dominant forces in the mainstream rock scene. The Euro, Spongebob Squarepants, and the now-considerably-less-cool Napster were all introduced. But in Des Moines, Iowa, possibly the unlikeliest of places, something big was happening — early 1999 saw the wrap up of recording for Slipknot’s self-titled debut album on Roadrunner Records.
The nine-strong crew have maintained their lineup since then– unlike most modern bands with no concept of dedication and who ultimately become a ship of Theseus paradox. In the decade that this group has been creating music — now four studio albums’ worth — some may be surprised that they don’t have a new release every time a charting hit gets stale. Is it a quality vs quantity issue? A commentary on hand over fist corporate production? Maybe.
In a 2008 interview with Metal Hammer, Drummer Joey Jordinson says of the band, “We wanted to create the kind of band of whom I’d be jealous if we went and saw them. We dug deep inside and pulled every ounce of creativity.”
The 10th Anniversary Edition of Slipknot was released on 9.9.09 (the original was released on June 29th, 1999), bundled with not-so-fresh set of demos of songs we already know, as well as “Snap,” previously off the Freddy vs Jason soundtrack. A wonderful addition is delightfully haunting “Purity,” finally back on disc (it was removed from the December ’99 reissue on the grounds of copyright infringement– inspired by CrimeScene.com’s faux murder tale of Purity Knight).
Looking back at Slipknot a decade later and comparing it to subsequent releases, we can see how much the band has developed and changed but one thing is certain: their dedication to creative perfection has not wavered.
Slipknot is more than just nine men in masks jamming out. It’s not noise. It’s cleverly crafted and much-toiled-after heavy metal– and perhaps a decade of reflection has helped to clearly define what it is that they do best: weave.
Each member has a role that’s both unique and vital. You can hear Mick Thompson’s growling guitar work just as readily as you can hear Shawn Crahan’s custom percussion. Sid Wilson’s spinning as resident DJ doesn’t overpower vocalist Corey Taylor. It’s always balanced. It’s more than they just play well together — it is their ability to play as a team that is commendable, especially when two limey brothers can’t even stick together to make mediocre Beatles rip-offs.
“Me Inside” (the substitute for the ousted “Purity”) returns on this release. Die-hard fans may be excited over the inclusion of early demos and mixes. You’d have to pay attention to get truly excited over the subtle nuances that differentiate mixes of “Wait and Bleed” and “Spit It Out” from the tracks you’re used to. The demos of “Despise” and “Interloper” are great for collectors but, again, nothing we haven’t seen before.
Their first single, “Wait and Bleed,” which arguably garnered the most attention until their 2006 Grammy win with “Before I Forget,” gets three nods on this release –leaving out the previously bundled “hyper” mix but giving us the demo and Terry Date mix. Furthering the frustration with repetition, tracks like “Only One” start to go sour after a few replays. There’s only so many times you can repeat “Only one of us walks away” before the point is driven home. A hook is supposed to grab you, not eviscerate you.
“Get This” instructs local bands, US bands, and bands across the globe to “suck these nuts” — and humbly request that they “Don’t drag our opinions, our opinions are great,” sparing none of the solipsism and all of the depth. Revisiting the early years, the slightly juvenile aspects of their efforts are easy to detect.
Pissed-off-at-authority metal works until you grow up… most of the members are now approaching 40.
The seething lyrics and undertones Taylor provides and Craig Jones’ downright eerie samples make their debut album an audio playground of dysfunctional splendor. Full appreciation of it requires resigning yourself into a B-movie wonderland. Some of us want to go there. Most prefer the comforting sandbox of pop music. If you enjoy head-banging, crunchy metal with lyrics that intend to rile you up, Slipknot is for you.
“Hot Topic” pioneers that have matured and are breaking out into the workforce now may welcome the reissue as a means of expelling energy when they’re frustrated that they can’t get a job– it’s a great, angry, powerful collection of songs. Those of us that have tossed our CDs and miss the sickness will be glad to have it on iTunes.
The bottom line is that, musically speaking, Slipknot has always delivered. Thematically? Even 2009’s Slipknot could stand to upgrade to the adults table. But should they have to? The environment we tackle on Slipknot’s first run is bloody, mangled chaos. That is what good metal puts forth for us. You don’t listen to metal if you want to hear about rainbows, unicorns and dreams being realized. You listen for the nightmare.
Will it introduce Slipknot to the next generation of nu-metalheads? Probably not. It’s a great keepsake and will no doubt go down in history as a significant release solely for its groundbreaking initial impact, but for those of us already familiar with their schtick, this is nothing to rush out to stores to get now. Sorry Slipknot– don’t expect this to be flying off the shelves. One reissue was enough.