Thursday, October 23, 2014

Slipknot - .5: The Gray Chapter (2014)

It is almost ridiculous when you look back at the last 6 years of Slipknot's career and see everything that has happened to the band. Since the release of the 2008 album "All Hope Is Gone", Slipknot has lost their bassist Paul Gray who died of an overdose of morphine and fentanyl, they have gone through an infected break up with their drummer Joey Jordison, and there has been some struggles within between Corey Taylor and Jim Root when the later left Stone Sour. And to top it all off, the new drummer and bassist's identities have not been revealed and are not considered as full time members yet. The only good thing that Slipknot can take out of all this is that this kind of turbulence would have obliterated any other band in the business, but Slipknot are twisted enough to make it through all this and release another album.

I did not have much expectations for ".5: The Gray Chapter" before listening to it, but I was hoping that the band would take out their chaotic side as much as possible since it is that side I mostly associate them with. And sure enough, we get a good deal of chaos in this album, but we don't get the crazy attack we got in the band's early career, instead it is controlled chaos that is close to being wimpy, but chaotic enough to please the most of the fans on both side of the border (the fans that enjoy their more melodic style and those who like it heavy). There are only few parts of the album where the band really let it all go buck wild, like "Custer" and the opening to "AOV", which actually surprised me. Even though most things has pointed towards that the band has calmed down and tried to make more controlled music, I thought the band would really get together and really make a album that reminded them of their origin, as a tribute to Paul Gray.

One thing is for certain though, The band has definitely cut all of the ropes that tied them together with Stone Sour (except that Corey Taylor is still a member of both bands). You will find no "Snuff" in this album, which is a huge relief. However, ".5: The Gray Chapter" does still have their clean moments that mostly drags the album down. The awful "Killpop" is the only song in this albums that I could see in a Stone Sour record with its boring lyrics about jealousy and semi slow tempo (only thing keeping it from a Stone Sour record is the harsh vocals and the excesive amount of swear words), while "Goodbye" does nothing to catch my interest. Then we have those cleaner moments that just works out just because they are either catchy or because they still maintain the heavy attitude, like the infectious "Nomadic" or the groovy and catchy single "The Devil In I".

The main problem with ".5: The Gray Chapter" (besides from that hideous album cover) is a problem that Slipknot never really seemed to care about, which is that they put quantity over quality. The record has 16 songs and a playtime close to 1 hour and 15 minutes (bonus songs included), but I find only about half of the material in here enjoyable. They have had 6 long years since their last album and this is what they come up with? The tops of the album are definitely high and they match up well compared to the rest of the discography, but the bottoms are just dumb. I really wished that the band would some time in the future release an even album instead of a bumpy roller coaster. But then again, how easy is that when your band has a total of 10 members.

Speaking of members, how are the two newcomers holding up? Not surprisngly, they are doing a good job on this album. The drummer, who is rumored to be Jay Weinberg, may not have as unique of a style as Joey Jordison had, but his beats fits well with the songs and he really knows how to do a slamming blast beat, which is best heard in "The Devil In I". As for the bassist, who is Alesandro Venturella (who else could have the same tattoo as the guy in the "The Devil In I" video?), he does not really stand out that much in the album for me to give a proper opinion about him, but he does not make a fool out of him self, which should be considered as a fine compliment. The only thing those two are missing are some original masks, which they should be able to design them self if they become full time members of the Slipknot clan.

I am pretty sure that Paul Gray has observated the making of the album from heaven/hell/purgatory and is honored for this tribute that the band has made, because when it all comes down, ".5: The Gray Chapter" is ultimately a good album from the Iowa band. A good deal of chaos and some new ideas makes this album a worthwile listen, even if it is a tad bit too long. But the same problems that has haunted Slipknot before is showing again in this album. Too many fillers and no straight direction are aspects that keeps this record from becoming a grand piece in the Slipknot discography, but thanks to their unique, twisted style, Slipknot remains one of the bigger acts in the nu metal movement, which actually doesn't say much since most of those acts has been dismantled or lost the fan's attention.

Songs worthy of recognition: The Devil In I, AOV, Nomadic

Rating: 6,5/10 Skeptics

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