It’s now time for my second ‘best to worst’ list (or best to least best, if you’re not pessimistic), of the year. If you haven’t seen my first one, make sure you go and check it out. It’s about Slayer, which automatically means it’s worth reading, but for now, the band in question for today is Slipknot, arguably the single most popular band in contemporary metal of the 21st century.
- ‘Slipknot’ (1999)
The Slipknot album that scores the #1 position on my list is none other than their eponymous 1999 debut album. At a time when nu-metal was definitely more than just a temporary fad thanks to Korn, Incubus, Deftones, System of a Down etc, Slipknot comes along with this monster of an album. Try and name me another album that has as good a first 5 consecutive songs as this one, and I’ll be impressed if you can. “Sic”, “Eyeless”, “Wait and Bleed”, “Spit it Out” and “Surfacing”, as well as lesser appreciated tracks like “Liberate”, make ‘Slipknot’ the obvious pick for the top spot on this list.
- ‘Iowa’ (2001)
The difference in quality between ‘Slipknot’ and ‘Iowa’ is very small indeed, but despite that ‘Iowa’ takes the runner up slot on this list of best Slipknot records. Without a doubt the most ferocious and spiteful of everything they’ve put their name on, ‘Iowa’ is the direct reaction to nine musical maniacs being told to soften their sound to appeal to a wider audience. While the group adopted this approach to varying degrees on future releases, ‘Iowa’ depicts Slipknot at their darkest, with “Disasterpiece” at the centre of it all with its direct threat to ‘slit your throat and fuck the wound’. What other line in any Slipknot song sums up the band better than that? NOTHING.
- ‘Vol 3: the Subliminal Verses’ (2004)
Apologies if I’m coming off a bit stereotypical here by appearing to rank their albums in chronological order, but the first 3 Slipknot albums really are that damn good (even though I like everything they’ve done). ‘Vol 3…’ is when the band put an end to their initial wave of ‘I want the world and everyone on it to set on fire’ angst that was particularly prevalent in their first two albums. However, what they replaced that violent lyrical dependency on was anthems. Having seen Slipknot play “Before I Forget” and “Duality” back to back in an arena with 15,000 other people, let me tell you this. Those songs are the absolute pinnacle of that sort of thing. The rest of the album’s pretty fantastic as well, but ‘Duality’ being on it is enough, right? “Vermillion”, “Pulse of the Maggots” and “The Blister Exists” also rule.
- ‘.5: The Gray Chapter’ (2014)
Time to talk about Slipknot’s most recent studio release, and the first without their classic rhythm section of late bassist Paul Gray and former drummer Joey Jordison. Losing two key members can obviously be catastrophic to any band when it comes to the quality of songwriting and general musical output, but despite this undeniable setback, some of the material on this album is definitely up to the Slipknot standard of creative quality. “The Devil in I”, “Sarcastrophe” and especially “Custer” are all fantastic. Perhaps the most underrated album in their entire discography to date.
- ‘All Hope is Gone’ (2008)
And now we come to the bottom pick of the list. ‘All Hope is Gone’ is by no means a bad album – it’s just like putting ‘Hell Awaits’ up against ‘Seasons in the Abyss’. I consider this album to be the closest Slipknot has come to venturing into extreme metal (even more so than ‘Iowa’) and the musicality and the instrumentation on stuff like the title track of this album is exactly what I mean. For a band that sounded so heavy in their original incantation (I know Slipknot don’t actually sound as heavy as Incantation), the fact that they wrote a song like “Snuff” is mindblowing. It goes to show that even on a band’s least revered album there is still so much good stuff to enjoy.