Album Review: Slipknot – The End, So Far

It’s quite a bit of pressure when you’re reviewing an album from one of the biggest bands on the planet. I mean, there are people who’ll lynch you if you even suggest it sucks. Then you have people who think you’re on a payroll or something to say it’s yet another masterpiece. It’s confusing. Which is handy, because so is The End, So Far.

I’ve listened to it right through about a dozen times and I’m honestly not sure what I think of it. To give you a frame of reference, I absolutely love The Subliminal Verses. I pretty much like the first two albums, but think they peaked with Vol. 3. I also like Stone Sour, though again it’s the earlier material that I really got into. This is relevant because opener “Adderall” sounds more like a song from Corey Taylor’s spinoff than from the mask-wearing nine-piece. I know Slipknot do melodic songs, but this one’s just so far out there that it wouldn’t be out of place on a Beatles album. Putting it front and centre as soon as you spin the disc is a bizarre decision. What the hell is the rest of the album like?

Familiar territory is once again stomped upon with “The Dying Song (Time To Sing)” (the video’s been out for a while) though it does open with a deceptive clean intro. Harsh roars? Check. Absolute thudding percussion? Yuppers. Clean singing breaks and chorus? Present. Discordant guitars? You betcha. It’s a good track, but is it a little bit too much like their older material? Given the completely left field opener, are we just going to get an album otherwise filled with unoriginal standard Slipknot material?

Balls-out furious and chundering along non-stop, “The Chapeltown Rag” (released on YouTube a whopping ten months ago, with a proper video three months after) really hits home. Percussion-led from the off, intertwining guitars and Taylor at his throat-shredding best, this is one of the heaviest songs I think Slipknot have ever done. Yet they still manage a sing-along chorus.

“Yen” comes up next and, yes, the video’s already out for this one as well so you may as well have a listen. It’s more of the standard Slipknot slow and heavy, yet pretty atmospheric fodder. Definitely more their kind of sound than Stone Sour with the bass absolutely thrumming in places.

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Finally we reach more songs you won’t already have heard.

“Hivemind” is right back into it with the well-known drum barrage that rattles the walls and the fillings in your teeth. The guitars shriek when they get the chance to play and Taylor again sounds like he’s been gargling paint stripper, with his alter-ego taking over for the clean singing around the chorus. It’s followed by “Warrant” which is a definite foot-stomper, and contains some guitar breaks the like of which I’m not sure I’ve heard from Slipknot before.

“Medicine For The Dead” slows the pace again, and the vocals are again predominantly clean. It’s a trippy little number, with a lot of layers to it. Listen out for the keys/synths/samples in the background. The trippiness continues with “Acidic”, Taylor’s vocals being distorted in a somewhat wobbly fashion. This is one of those odd numbers that seems very experimental and I’m sure that some people will love it, but it’s a bit disjointed for my liking. “Heirloom” is another anonymous track. It’s not bad, but despite quite a few listens it’s just not sticking.

“H377” take a while to get going with the extended, squealing intro but once it does we’re back into standard face-pounding mode. Less pretensions that the previous couple of songs, it’s just out to crack heads and it does a decent enough job. The melodies are back for “De Sade”, on the whole an unusual lilting yet heavy ballad (you know the kind that Slipknot do so well) which… again falls a little flat. It’s quite grand and definitely trying to be emotive, but the best bits by far are the wall-shaking drums and the more intense section that kicks in around 2/3 of the way through. Oh, yeah, make sure the bass is up for this album on the whole. Worth it.

The appropriately-named “Finale” plays us out and it’s another clean-singer, but it just feels very drawn out. It is the kind of song to run an album out on, in that it meanders and lets you collect yourself after the previous bunch of songs, but I’d have preferred a bang to a whimper.

Second opinion (Ross): Let’s be honest, Slipknot haven’t made a truly good album since Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses. All Hope is Gone had its moments and The Gray Chapter had “Custer”. And We Are Not Your Kind was a Slipknot album in the same way the last Star Wars trilogy had anything to do with what came before – in name only. The End, So Far, doesn’t quite hit those heady heights of the first three albums but it does get the awful taste of the last album out of your mouth. Whilst everyone’s favourite masked nine piece band have always went for left-field opening and closing tracks on every album thus far, here, Corey Taylor, Clown and the gang have opted to write a couple of Stone Sour songs as the bookends, rather than something like “515”, “Prelude 3.0”, “‘Til We Die” or “Danger – Keep Away”.However, in-between all that, this album sees them on furious form. Lead single “The Chapeltown Rag” channels the darkness of “Iowa” whilst “The Dying Song” has Taylor sounding like he’s gargling shrapnel. “Yen” is loaded with more drums and percussion than some whole album do. And it’s by this point you know it’s business as usual for Slipknot. “Warranty”‘s chunky opening riff hints at “Before I Forget” before turning into something far more darker. “Medicine for the Dead” and “H377” are the traditional oppressive wall of sound numbers you’d expect from Slipknot as they lovingly beat seven shades of shit out of your speakers and eardrums.

Whilst the album isn’t flawless and its experimental moments feel tacked on for the sake of experimenting such as “Acidic” and “De Sade”, largely, this is Slipknot at their brutal best, showing when they’re at the top of their game, they’re untouchable. It may not scream with obvious classics for future setlists in the same way those early albums do but they’re a far older, and far different band than those early masks who frothed with rage.

So. Production-wise this is superb (though some would have a case for saying it’s over-produced). The bass, as I’ve mentioned, is monster. I love the drums and the four-string which really shake you to the core throughout. There are some great songs, and there are – to my ear – some that just don’t click. I seem to be clinging to the Slipknot of old with my preferences, and I find the more experimental tracks leave me a little cold. However, I accept the argument that a band can’t stand still and has to be throwing down tunes like these to stay fresh.

And I still can’t get over opening with “Adderall”. As a bonus song… maybe? But the first track? No. It just doesn’t set the right tone for what comes after. So we’re left with a bit of a mish-mash. The best songs are up there with some of the old classics and I know will pound audiences when they’re treated to them at a live show. But the other material is throwaway and smacks of trying too hard.

Overall, it’s good. Probably the best album out of the last three or four, which may be damning with faint praise. But its oddball tracks are so oddball that you need to listen to it to form your own opinions. I think The End, So Far is going to be quite divisive.

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The End, So Far is out on September 30th

Check out all the bands we review in 2022 on our Spotify and YouTube playlists!

Header image by Jonathan Weiner

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