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Slipknot – Slipknot (1999)

August 3, 2015

[Album 411/1001]220px-Slipknot_-_Slipknot2

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.

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From → 1990s

27 Comments
  1. As interesting as Slipknot was back in high school, here in the Cleveland area we were never supposed to indulge. We had a local band called Mushroomhead which had/has a similar sound and the costumes. So listening to Slipknot was like cheating on our local Nu Metal band.

    I honestly never got into it. I still like System of a Down, but haven’t carried too many of those bands with me into the new century.

    • Sourgirl – I almost forgot to thank you. We were at trivia the other night and one of the questions was Lebron James, Steph Curry (and I think another few people) are all from this Cleveland area city. I have you to thank for our answer of Akron!

      • Yay! I’m so glad I could help. I hope you did well:)

      • Haha, we came in 2nd by 0.25 points (I guessed that the Dirty Dancing singer was Jennifer Warren, turns out it’s Warnes)!

  2. I still love this band, for all the reasons you listed. Sometimes they’re the only thing that can scratch that itch, ya know?

    As for his voice, I know exactly what you mean. Since this is their first album (and they were probably trying to cover all the bases in case that was their only shot)*, maybe check out later records (all with equally strong tracks, natch) and see if (for you) he found his own voice.

    * I’d say it’s worth noting that, to me anyway, I’ve always thought Slipknot treated every record like it was their only shot. They don’t hold much back.

    • I like that idea of a group going all in, in case it was the last album. Raekwon had something like that in his solo debut intro, if this doesn’t work, I’m giving it up.
      It will be interesting to see how I find his voice on later ones, once they’d made it!

  3. Zack permalink

    I really liked the song “Delivering Bananas” from this album, but my favorite from them was the Subliminal Verses. By the time they made that the Nu Metal bandwagon had passed so they were allowed to be themselves.

    • That’s good to hear about them being able to get beyond the Nu Metal sound Zack – it’s funny how something becomes big and then everything is seemingly packaged to fit in that style.
      I imagine many groups were sent back to the studio in the early 90s if the sound wasn’t “grunge” enough.

  4. This is an all time favourite of mine. Never felt the doing a voice thing but I’m too attached now to re-evaluate.

    • I know that feeling with some of my favourites Jimmy – some albums that are so important to me, I’ll never be able to listen to with a critical ear!

  5. jprobichaud permalink

    I know what you mean by these guys not being your cuppa. I kind of feel like I would’ve given this album a pass, if it weren’t totally against the idea of your blog. Good on you for sticking it out though and finding something positive to spin on.

    • Thanks JP – I figure with every album on the 1001 list, each means something to someone, so that’s one of the reasons I stick to the positives.
      And to Slipknot’s credit, they’ve released at least one record music journalists have deemed essential, that’s more than I’ve accomplished!

  6. Totally missed the boat on these guys! Interesting review and read…but I’m ahhh old! Ha!

  7. After listening to this, I think what you neeed is MORE SLIPKNOT …. covers.

  8. Nice assessment of this one, Geoff. Never been a fan of this type of stuff myself and have found the whole thing baffling. Even more baffling is the fact this is on the 1001! I tip my hat to you – as JP says, I would’ve been too tempted to give this album a pass.

    • Thank you for the hat tip J!
      I have to remind myself that these albums have been deemed important, as opposed to each individually excellent.
      The turn of the century was a strange time for music, so this one definitely helps complete the picture of what was going on approaching Y2K!

      • It certainly was, Geoff. The whole Nu Metal thing really passed me by (though I really dig Deftones – a band that were unfairly lumped in with all of those bands).

      • Me too – when they covered Say it ain’t so, I was converted!
        I’m to blame for lumping them in with the others though – I’ve often found the genre hit and miss, but maybe the groups such as Deftones that I like shouldn’t be classified as Nu Metal in the first place

      • Yeah – Deftones have done a couple of great covers over the years. I had been weary of them when my brother first sang their praises, but they’re definitely not ‘Nu Metal’. Reckon it was a timing thing – unfortunately falling in with a bad crowd!

  9. The Slipknot singer did a killer version of Rainbow in the Dark on the Dio tribute! Amazing….the guy did justice to Dio (the greatest singer in metal). He also did a great song with Dave Grohl on Sound City. But I don’t care too much for his main band.

    • Greatest singer in metal – that’s something I’ve never pondered, perhaps a good top 5 for the future.
      Thanks for reminding me to check out sound city, it’s been on my to-do list for a while!

      • I think if you took a poll, Dio would end up in just about everybody’s top five singers in rock. I was impressed the dude from Slipknot did such a great job.

  10. With Deke on this. Missed the boat. Plenty of people tried to make me get on it though but I didn’t bother! Interesting read though. Liked how you broke down the problem with the vocals. Nicely written and thought through!

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