At the beginning of the last track, ‘Finale’ on Slipknot’s seventh album, The End, So Far, lead singer Corey Taylor sings, “Oh, I know it’s a shame, but I gotta stay/’Cause I like it here.” Those lyrics, sung against a crescendo of electronic orchestral arrangements and baselines from Alessandro Venturella, illustrate the exact juxtaposition of why this band is still needed. For over 30 years, Slipknot has been an outlet for aggression, inner turmoil, anger, unity, and experimentation for the band members and the fans they ordained “maggots.”

Finality has always been a looming attachment to this nine-piece metal band from Iowa. If you think about it, how could a band with so many personalities continue for so long? It’s in their trademark mask changes and musical evolution. They’ve tasted the bitter heartache of loss. Founding members Paul Grey and Joey Jordison passed away, percussionist Shawn “Clown” Crahan lost his 22-year-old daughter Gabrielle, and second percussionist Chris Fehn left and was locked in a legal dispute with the band. More so than ever, each release since 2014’s The Gray Chapter has been a painful but necessary repeating of the shedding of skin and healing.

To adequately describe The End, So Far, is to take a proper walk of all the sounds the band has visited throughout their discography. It’s both a funeral pyre (this is their last album contracted to Roadrunner Records) and also an awakening of what’s to come. 2019’s We Are Not Your Kind ended with the furious, knock-out, drag-out purging with “Solway Firth.” ‘Adderall’ feels like a jazzy, grove-oriented re-entry into Slipknot’s world. Drummer Jay Weinberg slows the tempo, allowing Michael Pfaff’s piano, Venturella’s bass, and Taylor’s vocals to take the lead. Just as you fall into this dream-like state, Slipknot turns up the volume with “The Dying Song (Time To Sing)” and “The Chapeltown Rag.” This is where guitarists Jim Root and Mick Thomson let loose in a fury of guitars and small solos. DJ Sid Wilson’s scratching will make you remember the intro to “Eyeless,” as his contributions are a prominent feature on this album.

These songs continue a defiant commentary Taylor has been pursuing since the release of “All Out Life.” There, including the declaration of “We Are Not Your Kind,” the band drew their line in the sand regarding the cannibalization of old and new music. Now, they want to speak to the consciousness of online discussion and how much that’s broken down. While these observations are within the lyrical content, musically, Slipknot continues down an experimental evolutionary path. The parable darkness of ‘Yen’ serves as a reminder of tracks like “Vermilion part one” and “Killpop.” “Hive Mind” is a powder keg in waiting — where every band member gets to shine. Slipknot has been continuing to make sure of this with each recent album.

“Warranty” continues the energy and turns the usage of choir first heard in “Adderall” on its head. The clash of instruments and voices concludes with a quiet sample from Craig Jones. What is even funnier is that the song itself is a commentary on what people should expect from Slipknot — the structure is wagging a finger at that. ‘H377’ will continue to appease older fans with its tenacity, crunchiness, and Taylor’s cadence mimicking “Spit It Out’s” structure. However, the last half of The End So Far is where the band finds its mode of showing what could be. ‘Medicine For The Dead’ draws you in with its labyrinth of eerie progression. Jones and Wilson combine to add an ambiance in being in something you can’t get out of — while Root and Thomson add intricate guitar lines that take you on a journey, but also add a punch.

“Acidic” finds the band doing their twist to Alice In Chains mixed with the tones of Gray Chapter bonus track, “The Burden.” “Heirloom” may feel like a Stone-Sour-tinged outlier, but “De Sade” quickly brings you back to “Scissors”-like mirage, which may be the best personification of Slipknot merging their melodic and heavier sides — and then we come to the “Finale.” The End, So Far is a new collection of songs, but it is the band’s testimony that they can still belong in the foreign land of popular music. To do that, surrender yourself to a forever state of learning — even if that pulls them away from what you expect. This is very much a Slipknot record to its core — but their creativity lives forever, looking for something to feed on. For a band predicated on using its fury to amplify those urges, both inside and outside — they now have the freedom to position that bullhorn like a compass. The End, So Far proves that if their time is coming, Slipknot won’t go quietly.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Weiner