Slipknot – Slipknot (1999)
Looking at the album cover, I wouldn’t expect these guys to be kindred spirits.
But before actually hearing Slipknot’s self-titled album, I knew the singer and I were at least close to the same page regarding two issues:
1. I’d read years ago that the singer (credited on my CD as “Corey”) once turned to an 8-year-old kid making a scene in Burger King, leaned down and whispered something menacing, then stood back up as if he’d said nothing. Now I don’t condone threatening children – but we at least both disapprove of whining!
2. I didn’t see the video, but I gather he also made a recent video calling out Kanye West saying something along the lines of, if you have to tell people you’re a big star, that pretty much says it all.
His lack of tolerance for moaning and boasting helped me keep an open mind here, perhaps boosting my tolerance for a genre that’s not usually my cuppa.
“We all wear masks, metaphorically speaking.”
– Ben Stein/Jim Carrey, The Mask
I see the appeal of the group.
There’s plenty of aggression, the scratching/screaming combo fit right in with their Nu Metal contemporaries, with the mask gimmick adding a distinguishing feature.
There are some effective riffs (especially early on), good emphasis on percussion and some decent stand-alone tracks.
There’s disturbing lyrical content to spare but that’s not necessarily what bothered me.
To borrow a bickering couple phrase, “it’s not what he said, it’s how he said it.”
The 90s are renowned for vocal emulations; thankfully, Slipknot stopped short of descending into Eddie Vedder impersonations.
But it’s hard to tell what the Slipknot vocalist actually sounds like.
He seems to sport different masks as the album goes on:
– The Me Inside verses sound like Jonathan Davis from Korn is making a guest spot
– Fred Durst-ish vocals arrive partway through Prosthetics
– Only One‘s verse delivery wouldn’t be out of place on an Incubus track
Slipknot supporters would likely say that his different vocal styles showcase his versatility.
My thought is, if I’m going to a listen to a record, especially one where the lyric content is so raw, I’d prefer if the vocals were equally unfiltered.
My guess is that he sounds closest to himself on Wait and Bleed, perhaps not so coincidentally the album’s strongest track.
It’s sort of like a restaurant, the best servers are genuine.
If you feel like a server is being ‘in character’ or worse, like the Office Space flair waiter, the dining experience suffers.
Perhaps giving the advice “be yourself” to someone who cheerfully threatens kids at restaurants is ill-advised!
So instead, some belated guidance for Nu Metal bands looking to appeal to at least one listener well outside their target market:
It’s OK to scream, it’s OK to sing, but if it feels like you’re “doing a voice,” I lose interest.