Review: Slipnot – .5: The Gray Chapter

Slipknot - .5 The Gray ChapterSix years since All Hope Is Gone and down two of the original crew, Slipknot finally return in 2014 with this, their fifth studio release.

Without a doubt, this is one of the biggest releases of the year. The tour tickets that went on sale this morning sold at a ridiculous pace as well, doubtless because it’s the first time they’ve toured the UK since they co-headlined with Slayer in 2004 (I believe?). But does the album live up to the hype?

Bear in mind I’m writing this as a person who like Slipknot – not a die-hard fan, but one who’s not going to put them down for no reason – when I say “no, it doesn’t”.

.5 is not a bad album by any stretch. In fact, it’s pretty good. But it’s not awesome. It’s not the shattering piece of musical excellence one expects after a six-year layover. In honesty, I wasn’t that much of a fan of All Hope…  either, finding it a bit run-of-the-mill and .5 is much of the same. There’s just nothing really new here.

It’s recognisably Slipknot, of that there’s no doubt. The additional percussion, record-scratching and Corey’s voice are as distinct as ever. The song-writing is tight, and the lyrical themes dark and brooding. Everything’s in place except for a spark of originality.

If there is a change, it’s in the lighter material. Whereas I personally loved the slower stuff on Vol. 3, the equivalent numbers on here sound too much like Stone Sour. Not that I’m knocking Stone Sour at all, but there has – until now – been more of a dividing line between Corey Taylor’s two major projects. Listen to the backing “Ooo-oooh”‘s during “AOV” and tell me I’m wrong.

Diehard Slipknot fans won’t be disappointed, I’m fairly sure. On the other hand, I doubt it’ll bring in any new fans to the fold. Some of the tracks will work very well live, as well, so those who managed to get tickets for January will lap that shit up!

But for me… I still find myself returning to Slipknot and Vol. 3 over this release.

Stand-out tracks? “Lech” is one of the tracks that really sounds like Slipknot, rather than a Stone Sour side-project. Angry, creepy pauses and punishing heavier segments. “The Negative One” also, doesn’t let up and reminds me more of the classic material. A good choice as the first video.

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