‘These Nine Freaks Have Just Made The Best Debut Of The Year – Are You Ready?’
This is a reprint of the original Kerrang! album review from the summer of 1999. At a time when no-one was in any way prepared for the juggernaut that was Slipknot…
Now this is an Insane Clown Posse. Nine black-hearted sociopaths with thousand yard serial-killer stares, Slipknot are here to truly dirty up your little minds. And you’re going to fucking love it…
After witnessing Slipknot’s stunning performance on the opening dates of the U.S. Ozzfest, K! photographer Ross Halfin asked one of the boiler-suited freaks where his band hailed from. Upon hearing the answer, ‘Des Moines, Iowa’ the ever-charming snapper sneered, ‘That place is a shithole.’
‘We know,’ came the reply. ‘That’s why we formed this band.’
You can hear Slipknot’s hatred and frustration at their small town upbringing in every track of their debut album. Slipknot is the most venomous, apoplectiic and vein-poppingly furious album since Korn’s 1994 debut, and easily the best metal debut of the year.
Slipknot live at Ozzfest 1999
Discovered by Korn/Soulfly/Machine Head producer Ross Robinson, the ‘Knot have all the essential ’90s ‘new metal’ ingredients in place – down-tuned churning guitars, innards-rearranging subterranean bass rumbles, clattering hip-hop inspired drumming and stream-of-consciousness, multi-octave psychobabble – but what really sets these sickos apart from their peers are the wicked hooks they drill into every song. Eyeless – premiered on the Spirit Of Independence CD on K!742 – is the first stunner with vocalist 8 bellowing ‘You can’t see California without Marlon Brando’s eyes’ over thunderous rhythmic barrages and scalpel guitars. There there’s the sensory overload of Surfacing with its furious scratching, double bass drum flailing and Taylor’s Jonathan Davis-style invective ‘Fuck it all, fuck this world, fuck everything that you stand for’, all beautifully captured in Robinson’s crystal clear mix. Spit It Out and Purity are propulsive, disquieting and thrillingly perverted, with cool melodies slithering through the low-end maelstrom, and Prosthetics builds from an eerie opening into a claustrophobic, dense wall of sound with Taylor screeching ‘Tell them I knew it was a mistake’, like a tearful felon on his way to a date with Old Sparky.
But nothing tops the closing track Scissors, which is one of the most genuinely terrifying pieces of music recorded in years. Taylor chants ‘biding my time until the time is right’, and then everyone sets about detuning at once and the track collapses into chaos. And when Taylor begins breathing unhinged threats into your face, it becomes the aural equivalent of having a broken pint glass held against your throat by the town psychopath. Thoroughly unpleasant and truly unforgettable.
Forget Orgy, Videodrone, Static‑X or any of the other sick new puppies you might have heard this year. Slipknot is the essential sound of 1999. ‘You can’t kill me ’cause I’m already inside you’ Taylor gloats on opener Sic. One listen to Slipknot and you’ll have the horrible realisation that he’s right.
Words: Paul Brannigan
Photo: Paul Harries
Pick up a copy of this week’s issue of Kerrang! for the inside story on Slipknot’s self-titled album. You can buy it in UK newsagents or order online for delivery all over the world via newsstand here.
We chart much-missed bassist Paul Gray’s 10 greatest tracks for the ’Knot…
Lamb Of God and FEVER 333’s Jason Aalon Butler have teamed up for a live quarantine cover of Bad Brains’ I Against I.