Few bands have left an imprint on the world in the way that Slipknot has. Since 1999, Slipknot’s music has been violently grabbing the throat of the metal world, whether it be to demand undivided attention, or to savagely smack down those who have dismissed them since their inception. Their influence is immutable, with bands today releasing music that undeniably channels the rage that Slipknot has created. Shawn ‘Clown’ Crahan has said it multiple times, “it’s not a band, it’s a culture”, and this statement will forever ring true. The life of the band has been something of a spectacle to witness, widening the eyes of even the most jaded; huffing decomposing birds in jars, self-mutilation during record production, almost drowning to death in barrels, breaking bones from falling 10 metres on stage, and loads, loads more.
It’s now 2022, and this group is still going strong. There’s been a lot going on for this band over the past decade, but with this album there is one word that I keep coming back to describe it. Resolve.
There is something in their latest offering, “The End, So Far”, that I haven’t heard from them in years, and it’s the passion within the energy and rage. “We Are Not Your Kind” had tonnes of energy, and it was heavy, marking the blossoming of a group that was still navigating the circumstances, but immediately these brand new songs are sticking with me more. There’s a heaviness for the sake of knowing that they can be if they want to, rather than being heavy to show that they still can be.
With that being said, heaviness is not the epicenter of this album, it’s merely an instrument, an avenue. The musical variation explored on this record surprised me a fair bit. The opening track, “Adderall”, is especially guilty of this. The ethereal synth layers and piano mixed in with strumming acoustic guitars, a steady pulsing bass-line from Alessandro Venturella and a simple rock beat carried along by Jay Weinberg, got me good. I was completely blindsided, however, by the angelic classic rock chorus that shrouds this track in its melodic expanse. Venturella’s bass melody in this moment is a real pleasant addition, and it tells the listener that he won’t just be providing a boring old bass line through this record. He’s gonna spend some time in the spotlight. It’s one thing to play bass well, but to do so whilst understanding and resonating with the direction that the band wants to go in, that’s the important bit. The late Paul Gray, the former bassist, was so in tune with what the band’s songs needed. When the band felt 2001’s “Metabolic” was missing something, and they couldn’t put their finger on it, Gray said “tune it down half a step.” and boom, the song was back in action. That kind of intuition towards the band’s direction is difficult, but it sounds like Venturella‘s attitude is very much the same, adding some awesome parts to the mix that are hugely beneficial to the modern sound of Slipknot.
One could argue that “Adderall” is the musical equivalent of meditation for the band. It almost feels like a cleansing; maybe also like watching the Pokémon you’re fighting use the move ‘Focus Energy’ (yes, this is the analogy I’m using). You stand there a moment after the fact, scratch your head, and ask “why?”. Its next move, however, lands a critical hit, delivering a tonne more force than you’re ready to handle. That is exactly how “The Dying Song (Time To Sing)” hits you.
Immediately harnessing the chaos that fuels the same energy as “Red Flag” from the previous record, almost feeling like a refined version of “(Sic)”, the listener is obliterated with the iconic Slipknot barrage of rapid vocal lashings from Corey Taylor, bolstered by the band going at full capacity behind him. Throw in some modern haunting melodies from Jim Root and Mick Thomson, as well as a catchy harmonised hook from Taylor and you’ve got a quintessential Slipknot track that confidently displays their tenacity and identity in the present day. Venturella’s snazzy little bass moment in the bridge further proves my point about him standing out on this album.
“The Chapeltown Rag” is the group following through with zero loss in momentum. The blast beat section is a furious explosion. DJ Starscream himself Sid Wilson scratches hard on this track as well. The listener will be more than pleased to know that he stands out a whole lot on this album. It almost feels at times like him and Taylor are sharing the front of the stage, almost like a human-cyborg duet. His additions to the tracks in general are seriously unique, easily standing out as a highlight of this album.
With all of these members deserving time in the spotlight, and thriving in it, it must be said that Joe Baressi did a top job in producing “The End, So Far”. Whilst the mix doesn’t pack as much of a sonic punch as his mixing efforts in “We Are Not Your Kind”, it shines in a different way. The mix is crystal clear and intensely dynamic. The mix possesses a huge similarity to “Vol. 3 The Subliminal Verses”, and as a result the songwriting and theatricality that is Slipknot stands out with bright and violent colors.
“Yen” is a bit of a change of pace, but considering the relentless assault we’ve received so far, it’s a welcome feathering of the brakes. It’s a sombre serenade from Taylor and it takes me back to similar feelings elicited by “Vermillion”, but with a modern energy that pushed along more ‘recent’ endeavors like the slow burning “If Rain Is What You Want” from “.5: The Gray Chapter“, or “A Liar’s Funeral” from “We Are Not Your Kind”. “Yen” is a track that gets deeper and deeper each time you listen. I kept coming back and hearing more layers, more little things here and there that I didn’t pick up on before. There’s a world of noise in there. I shudder to think of how many tracks Baressi had to handle when producing this record.
“Hivemind” picks up the energy. The destructive ennead deliver a tonne of blast beats and more trash can hits than a disgruntled garbage truck driver. The chorus stands out a lot in this track, mainly due to how melodic it is in comparison with the flurry of violence that surrounds it. Feeling like a moment of clarity during a violent outburst, it shows how comfortable Slipknot are in delivering melody and massacre in one track.
“Warranty” is a straight-up bombardment that easily rivals something like “Welcome” from “Vol 3. The Subliminal Verses” in the way of focused rage, or any song off that album, for that matter. Furthering the idea that theatricality and entertainment is embedded in this band’s DNA, a choir comes through in the bridge and lifts you up for a moment, before you’re hurled back towards the earth for the final crushing breakdown.
“Medicine For The Dead” is the track that got stuck in my head the most. Wilson’s electronic layers that whirl around your head are hypnotizing, and Weinberg’s rhythmic unity with Root and Thomson’s progressions almost felt like a ritual. The intimidating first roar from Taylor takes me all the way back to similar efforts of his for “Gently”, recorded for “Iowa” back in 2001. Is it then a coincidence that that clip of Taylor recording vocals for “Gently” randomly resurfaced across the internet over the past month? I think not! Even if it is, it’s proof that after 21 years, Taylor has not lost that iconic sound.
Have you heard them live recently? Taylor’s stamina is next level. When half your life has been live performances, it makes sense, but there’s no loss of energy at all. Going off of their recent show at Blue Ridge Rock Festival, his vocals sound like they’re moving further and further back to the rawness and insanity of the “Iowa” era, which is a vocal sound I still see no one being capable of replicating.
Instrumentally, the performances feel deeply human. Modern metal bands nowadays are focused on everything being perfectly in time and polished, but there is an overwhelming feeling of personality and realness that comes through the natural performances of Weinberg, Thomson, Venturella and Root. Hands sliding off the neck at the end of a track, chugs and leads not immediately cut off to abrupt silence, drums not quantised into robot-level accuracy; all these things are to be celebrated, and bands should be encouraged to move this way. Tallah, an up-and-coming group, took this attitude to production for their debut album “Matriphagy” in 2020 and it was one of the best albums of the year, and perhaps in the genre of nu-metal. Big call? Check out the album and then come back to me, and yes, I’m partial to ‘thank you’ cards.
Digressions aside, Slipknot really dive into new sounds on “The End, So Far”, something that feels like it was as spiritually fulfilling for them as it was just plain fun. The next song “Acidic” is probably what Weinberg was referring to when he was alluding to “the heaviest blues song on Earth”. Venturella shows off his sultry self with a delicious bass line that underlines Taylor’s bluesy ballad. The chorus has this massive Soundgarden feel to it, something we haven’t heard from Slipknot before. I can’t speak for the late and great Chris Cornell, but I’m confident he’d be more than approving of Taylor’s catchy melody in the chorus.
“Heirloom” has an unfortunate place on the album, as it would be hard for any track that isn’t immediately grabbing to follow on from “Acidic”. It doesn’t possess as much of the energy as the other heavier tracks, yet it has this old-school metal personality that is different to the rest of the album. Even after a handful of listens, it was still difficult to accept this track as an appropriate stitch in the larger tapestry that is “The End, So Far”. The personality of this one track feels like it’s at odds with the rest of the album, but then again, that’s just the opinion of one dude.
The next track, however, is not asking for a place on this album, it’s forcing itself onto the track-list with an insurmountable aggression. “H377” is savagely rapid, with Taylor whipping his tongue at light speed. Taylor hasn’t rapped this intensely and quickly since the debut album, especially on tracks like “Spit It Out”, “No Life” and “Only One”. The line in “H377” screamed by the whole group “one of us knows who hates me, one of us loves it”, takes me back to a line in “Only One”, where the he screams “only one of us walks away”.
“De Sade”, the second last track, begins in an eerie and dark atmosphere, but slowly opens up to become a big melodic rock ballad. Weinberg’s snare pops like crazy on this track, and Venturella’s bass lick in the otherworldly sequence is his last little spotlight moment we can appreciate. Call and response solos from Thomson and Root are a welcome addition which listeners will never get enough of.
“Finale” has a larger-than-life cinematic atmosphere to it. It’s a dramatic performance from Taylor, and this is supported completely by the band. From simple melodies by Root and Thomson, to the easy staccato scratching from Wilson, it’s a group effort to put a huge arrangement together for the curtain call. The choir jumping in at the end is the final symphonic layer to this movement, and even though I can imagine some people not being fully on board with this track, it’s hard to disagree that Slipknot have thrown their creative heart and soul into this record.
“The End, So Far” is certainly going to ruffle some feathers, but mostly it’s going to wake people up to the present. This record feels like a total departure from the group’s responsibility to prove that they still have that grip on the exact same chaos that fans loved about their early career. The songs are seriously creative, exploratory, and most of all they’re just straight up enjoyable to experience. It sounds like the band had a damn great time recording this album, and you can hear it in the energy that comes through the songwriting, the melodies, even the lyrics.
Moving as one solidified force that appreciates all of its components, Slipknot are delivering a beautifully forceful blow that reminds us why they’ve been sitting on the top of the metal world for so long.
Released On: September 30th, 2022
Released By: RoadRunner Records
- Corey Taylor / Vocals
- Shawn Crahan / Percussion/Backing Vocals
- Mick Thomson / Guitar
- James Root / Guitar
- Alessandro Venturella / Bass
- Sid Wilson / Turntables/Samples
- Craig Jones / Keyboards/Samples
- Jay Weinberg / Drums
- Michael Pfaff / Percussion/Backing Vocals
“The End, So Far” Track-list:
- The Dying Song (Time To Sing)
- The Chapeltown Rag
- Medicine For The Dead
- De Sade
If you’re here for a band that hasn’t moved on since 2004, then you’re looking in the wrong place. Slipknot have coloured well and truly outside on the lines on “The End, So Far”, and it’s worked out for them in big ways. There’s an overwhelming confidence that emanates from each track, even more so from the tracks that one wouldn’t generally expect from the 9-man group. “Acidic” and “Medicine For The Dead” are personal highlights, but I think listeners will have a great time exploring this record and finding their own favourites.