.5: The Gray Chapter
(Roadrunner Records)

The demigods of metal are back with another cathartic masterpiece. Six years and two new bands members later, there is no two ways about it, these guys are a fine wine. .5: The Gray Chapter is a gumbo of all the insanity Slipknot have capitulated over the years, pieced together is such a cohesive fashion it makes for a captivating, adrenaline fueled listen from start to finish.

Slipknot’s tenacity for capturing the madness on their albums that they generate live is of legendary status and this LP is yet another prime example of this. From the atmospheric opening “XIX” where Craig Jones has once again manipulated an incredibly dark, melancholic introduction to an album, it steadily heightens in tension and upon the knife-edge of Corey Taylor’s voice embarking in to sheer madness we’re left to envisage what could have been. By doing this, it makes the next track that much more palatable. ‘Sarcastrophe’ has another tense introduction but this time the band unleashes their turntable scratching, guitar shredding, anarchic drumming, custom percussion and lead man Corey Taylor’s psychotic vocals that every hardcore maggot (Slipknot fan) will be salivating over. This album is a masterclass in producing. It is pieced together with a purpose. Fortunately it is not another album, like so many others, that is just a collection of songs thrown together.

The album title .5: The Gray Chapter is in reference to the late bassist #2, Paul Gray who tragically passed away in 2010. It is clear the band had a lot of inner demons they wanted to exercise on this album. Lyrically, this is no more evident than on the track “Skeptic” where the chorus “The world is never going to see another crazy motherfucker like you/ the world will never see another man as amazing as you…” is delivered with a brutal shriek directed at Gray who embodied the heart and soul of Slipknot for so many years. “AOV” (Approaching Original Violence) is a spectacle of metal where the nine band members utilize all the talent at their disposal creating a truly monumental piece of music ripe with individual indulgence. The contrast between the nine band members is utterly astonishing. “Goodbye” again focuses on the tragic passing of Paul Gray, with both slow melodic vocals and poignant keyboard playing to the harsh boisterous drumming and guitars that are expressed throughout the rest of the album. “Nomadic”  gives guitarists Jim Root and Mick Thomson a platform to showcase their abilities, shredding their guitars to within an inch of their lives. And of course “The Devil In I” is yet another certified Slipknot anthem being the lead single of this LP. It’s great to see and hear the custom percussion being put to good use once more by Clown (Shawn Crahan) with the baseball bat and steel keg being employed, reminiscent of “Duality” from the 2004 album Vol 3. (The Subliminal Verses).

Five albums, two changes in the line-up since their self titled debut, one Grammy, and their own much festival (Knotfest), it is hard not to be impressed or at least intimidated by Slipknot and their tumultuous career. .5: The Gray Chapter is a prerequisite in any metal fans arsenal for 2014.
(Jason Fullerton)

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