The return of Slipknot is imminent. Six years after their hit album All Hope Is Gone the band (currently comprising Corey Taylor on lead vocals, Mick Thomson and Jim Root on guitar, Shawn Crahan and Chris Fehn on custom percussion and backing vocals, Craig Jones on sampling and Sid Wilson on turntables) which changed the shape of modern metal are back – but things have changed, brothers have been lost and the road has been bumpy. After the death of bassist Paul Gray, and more recently the departure of drummer Joey Jordison, fans have been left wondering if this is going to be the Slipknot they remember, an evolution of that memory or a different band entirely.
Slipknot’s last major step in their journey was back in August 2008, when they released their fourth studio album All Hope Is Gone. The record debuted at number one in the Billboard 200, Slipknot’s first ever album to do so. It came in at number two in the UK and, as of January 2012, had sold over 1 million copies in the US alone.
There was also resounding critical appreciation for the album despite this being the band’s most diverse musical venture, incorporating elements from all three of their previous records: the brutal bite of their debut self-titled album coupled with slow, burning trippy aspects reminiscent of Iowa and acoustic elements first introduced in Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses. The band toured in support of this album through until late 2009 then went on hiatus to write new material. And yet, although they didn’t know it, they would have to experience one of the most crushing losses to rock and metal in recent years.
On 24th May 2010 Paul Gray, the bassist for Slipknot, was found dead in a hotel room in Urbandale, Iowa. Initial autopsy revealed that no foul play was involved, but a cause of death was not discovered until a month later: Gray had died of an overdose of morphine and fentanyl, prescribed to him by his physician Daniel Baldi in high doses despite the fact that Gray had been a known drug addict from 2005 until his death. Baldi appeared in court in September 2012 charged with involuntary manslaughter, to which he pleaded not guilty. In May of this year Baldi was acquitted of all charges. The death of Paul Gray sent a shudder down the spine of Slipknot – Corey Taylor (vocalist) famously broke down at a show in Baltimore in 2011 whilst dedicating the acoustic song ‘Snuff’ to his friend.
After Gray’s passing the future of Slipknot was thrown into contention. Different members of the band gave conflicting statements in interviews, and it seemed for a second that Slipknot might not come back from this huge shock to their system. Months and years went by, and the band remained quiet on the songwriting front.
In July 2012 Slipknot released their compilation album Antennas To Hell and toured in support of that, hosting their first annual music festival, Knotfest, in August of the same year. They also appeared at Download 2013, playing to 90,000 people, and were forced to stop their set twice to allow repairs to the barricade, which had broken under pressure from the crowd. Production of the upcoming album began in late 2013. Taylor described it as “very dark”, a mixing of the styles of both Iowa and Vol 3: The Subliminal Verses. It appeared things were going well, and that Slipknot were back on track.
However in December 2013 they experienced another loss. It was announced on the band’s official website that drummer Joey Jordison had parted ways with them after 18 years, citing personal reasons. Jordison made a statement on Facebook saying that he didn’t “quit Slipknot”, and both he and the band have promised to release further details to fans in the near future. Because of this, Jordison does not feature on the new album as he didn’t partake in the band’s studio sessions.
In February of this year all of Slipknot’s media outlets went dark, including their Twitter page and official website. Fans quickly guessed that this was a sign of impending announcements, and tiny visual teasers were drip-fed to millions of patient fans. Then, finally on 1st August. Slipknot officially released a digital single from the new album entitled ‘The Negative One‘ via their website. On 5th August the music video was released on YouTube and became the band’s first censored video, requiring an account with an age of 18+ to view. The track was met with resounding positive commentary from fans and critics alike.
Shortly after the release of ‘The Negative One’, Taylor revealed that it was not the official single for the album, but a “gift to the fans” for sticking with the band through their time off. The official single, ‘The Devil In I’, is hotly anticipated for release within the coming weeks following the reveal of it’s artwork on 13th August (see left).
The full album is expected to be released in October, in preparation for Knotfest 2014.
We can be certain of one thing: this will be one of the biggest releases for Slipknot and that their return is one of the most anticipated in modern metal.