2014’s .5: The Gray Chapter found Slipknot at a crossroads. The album itself served as a monument for late bassist/friend Paul Grey and a testing ground to see if the band could continue forward. With losing Gray, the departure of drummer/founding member Joey Jordison, and the inclusion of two new members, (drummer Jay Weinberg and bassist Alessandro Venturella) you would think that the band would lose the rebellious spark it once had. Songs such as ‘Goodbye’ and the funeral pyre-like opener, ‘XIX’ showed a band in mourning – while ‘The Negative One’ and ‘Custer’ showed that the band still had some guttural venom to boast.
Where The Gray Chapter saw the band figuring out a new shared experience, We Are Not Your Kind integrated a new creative spirit with old themes. The single, “All Out Life,’ released on Halloween of 2018 was the first shot across the bow. ‘We Are Not Your Kind” has been an unspoken mantra of the band since it’s inception and prevalent throughout their history. Slipknot fans had long identified themselves as ‘maggots.’ One of the reasons why the band has endured over the years is because they welcome those who feel broken and discarded – then turn that into something beautifully chaotic. 2004’s ‘Pulse of the Maggots’ gave fans an anthem – ‘All Out Life,’ a frenetic, pulsating rallying cry provided a call-to-action. Slipknot was renewed, had something to say, and rested heading into the making of their next album.
If there was one word to describe WANYK – it’s eclectic. The album has DNA from all their previous efforts; whether it be the furiosity and dread from 2001’s Iowa (‘Red Flag‘, ‘Birth of the Cruel’) or the eerie and almost macabre instrumentation from 2004’s Vol. 3. (‘Spiders‘, ‘My Pain’). It’s an album that has the band sound more together as a unit. Something that may have been missing in parts of The Gray Chapter.
Jay Weinberg asserts himself on this album – especially on ‘Orphan’ and ‘Critical Darling.’ You can hear the guitars of Jim Root and Mick Thompson converge nicely with the bass of Venturella. It’s an album that everybody in the band sounds like they’ve made a lasting impression on. Also, it’s the little things that make Slipknot records take on an identity of their own. On “Not Long For This World,” there’s a part at the end where sample Craig Jones and turntablist Sid Wilson trade-off twisted scratches and warped vocals. Percussionist Shawn “Clown’ Crahan put his custom touches on songs like “Birth of the Cruel.”
Interludes like ‘Death Because Of Death” and What’s Next” serve as guides through a haunted house with the tracks that follow them. That’s not to say that this album is all doom and gloom. ‘Unsainted’ and ‘Nero Forte’ are proof that the band is more conscious than ever about making more alternative rock stylings with an edge. Singer Corey Taylor has an urgency to get things off his chest. He described the lyricism as ‘the most he’s shared in years.’ WANYK finds him very much working through this, both as a look inward and outward in what he sees occurring in the world. As he goes into a more melodic territory in the chorus of ‘Critical Darling,’ there’s still a punch to it. ‘A Liar’s Funeral,’ a slow, grinding echelon of the degrees of Taylor’s stress shows this perfectly.
If you’ve listened to previous albums except for Iowa and All Hope Is Gone, Slipknot has generally slowed down the tempo with tracks like ‘If Rain Is What You Want’ and ‘Danger – Keep Away.’ ‘Solway Firth,’ the third single from WANYK does away with that. Subtle guitar chords play as Taylor drifts off in his own melody just to snap back in a feverish scream once the track kicks in. As the final track on the album, this song is both a definite statement of Taylor exorcising his demons and the band putting a blistering stamp on a strong, distinctive album.
With their sixth album, We Are Not Your Kind is the sum of all Slipknot’s parts. It’s art, pain, and rage mixed up into a sonic maelstrom. In 1999, nine men from Des Moines, Iowa wearing red jumpsuits, and tattered masks released their self-titled debut album. Armed with a mission to piss off the world and brand their names on the hide of metal music. One year later after the release of their sixth album, Slipknot is older, wiser, but still angry and just as needed than ever.