Album Review: Slipknot – We Are Not Your Kind
‘I haven’t felt like this in years,’ seethes Corey Taylor five songs into We Are Not Your Kind, on album standout Nero Forte. Indeed, Slipknot’s leader has been on quite the journey since 2014’s .5: The Gray Chapter – at war with mental demons while also dealing with the blow of a divorce in 2017. For the Iowa metal titans as a unit, too, it’s been a similarly tumultuous story – still finding their feet between line-up changes, and even having to deal with an ugly lawsuit involving departed member Chris Fehn in March of this year.
Such disturbance is not only heard through Corey’s lyrics, but the sound of We Are Not Your Kind as a whole. This is Slipknot at their most bleak, where helplessness thrives and a sense of closure is seldom around the corner. Ask the members of the band to describe this music, and they’ll use adjectives like “heavy”, “experimental”, “insane” and “dark”. Corey will even say that “every song has a different soul”.
Given that it’s been four years in the making – predominantly at the hands of percussionist Shawn ‘Clown’ Crahan, guitarist Jim Root and drummer Jay Weinberg – this meticulous approach can be heard everywhere across We Are Not Your Kind’s 60-plus minutes. Even the interludes have been pored over: the alarm-bell-esque warning of opener Insert Coin, the creeping dread of Death Because Of Death, the subtle 54 seconds of What’s Next.
The two songs Maggots have heard in advance of its arrival – Unsainted and Solway Firth – already alluded to the thrilling and unpredictable direction album number six would be taking. The former sees the band using a choir for the first time ever, while the latter begins with Corey putting on a peculiar folk twang before the band’s gloriously aggressive side rises to a thunderous head. But there’s so much more than that at work here, too, encompassing stylistic leanings from every single stage of their discography. Where Birth Of The Cruel throws things back to 1999 with samples that recall the moods of their self-titled debut, Liar’s Funeral looks ahead a decade and opens like All Hope Is Gone ballad Snuff, before there’s what could be read as a nod to Chris in the demanding line, ‘Turn your back and show us the truth.’
Meanwhile, Corey effortlessly switches from furious, impossible-to-keep-up-with rapping to huge, clean choruses on Nero Forte and Critical Darling, while putting on outstanding vocal performances over the crushing Red Flag and Orphan. And yet on We Are Not Your Kind’s longest track, My Pain, he’s never sounded more vulnerable. Most striking of all, though, is Spiders, a song that could well have been written by horror composer John Carpenter, and is made all the more sinister with the chanting chorus of, ‘The spiders come in side by side / Two by two and night by night / Who is food and who is thrown away?’
In fact, it almost goes unnoticed that last year’s brilliant standalone single All Out Life – the song from which this album takes its name – has not been included in the final tracklist, only as a bonus cut on the Japanese edition. Given that the one-off release was essentially an attack on the music industry, it makes sense to keep it away from the delicate, personal subject matter on display here. Instead, it serves as a welcome reminder that this is a band who can still shatter confines and do whatever the fuck they want. And that also sums up We Are Not Your Kind perfectly: 20 years since their debut, Slipknot are as bold, fearless and exhilarating as ever.
Read the story behind every song on We Are Not Your Kind in the new issue of Kerrang!, on sale Wednesday, August 7. You can pre-order the issue right now at Kerrang.Newsstand.co.uk and get it delivered straight to your door, anywhere in the world.
Despite the members of Slipknot wishing that they “didn’t have to wear that stuff”, Shawn ‘Clown’ Crahan says the masks are for life.
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