Metal Injection posted a track-by-track review of Slipknot‘s upcoming album .5: The Gray Chapter. Below you can read an excerpt from the review.
Since the first teaser for Slipknot’s .5: The Gray Chapter went up on July 15, speculative postings and supposed “insider knowledge” has been running amok. Who was going to take the place of recently fired drummer Joey Jordison? Who would fill the mighty shoes of the late, great Paul Gray? Would the band still be able to bring it like they used to after six years of silence? While the answers for the first two questions have been all but confirmed across the great expanse of the Internet, I personally can answer the last question- Slipknot can bring it just as hard as they used to and then some, but with the acrid grace and brutal maturity of musicians who know how to sharpen their proverbial knives and efficiently kill with them just as well.
This review is pretty straight forward in terms of layout. I’m going to go track by track in the order they appear in on the album, excluding the two bonus tracks considering I don’t have them, and then give my overall impression of the album at the bottom. Deal? Deal.
Let’s get to it!
“XIX” opens up with a distorted bagpipe-sounding keyboard patch, a glockenspiel and an acoustic guitar in the background. Corey Taylor’s vocals come in over the eerie soundscape alongside muted drums quietly keeping the beat and Taylor’s voice just sounds strained in a fed up, pissed off way. “XIX” is interesting because it keeps building on a lot of additional instrumentation, volume increases and layered vocal harmonies seeping into frame. The main scratchy, sickening soundscape remains constant and you can almost feel Taylor glaring at you. It seems like Slipknot is trying to make you feel uneasy and scared with this track.
The song builds and builds, edging toward total paranoia, and finally arrives at… nothing. Everything falls apart and you’re left with the original soundscape in extreme disrepair. It’s you’re expecting something to jump out at you from behind a curtain. You reach toward it and there’s nothing behind it, but you’re pretty sure there’s someone breathing down the back of your neck now.
“Sarcastrophe” picks up where “XIX” left off in terms of mood. There’s light percussion, effected clean guitars and a bubbling static noise. Things pick up with the addition of cymbals and distorted guitars. Then, out of nowhere, a drum fill and you’re thrown into the midst of Corey Taylor growling his fucking face off. The heaviness arrives in the same way the band did heaviness on their debut record- plenty of heft in terms of a traditional metal band, but with more percussion going on and the added madness of DJ electronically adding layers of insanity.
It’s immediately noticeably that this is not the Slipknot you think you’re getting. This is a Slipknot that is righteously pissed off. There’s blasts, there’s tremolo-picked riffs and there’s non-conventional breakdowns that include sampling and keyboard work and aren’t drum centric. There’s a strange, airy quality to the heaviness of this song. It’s not this laser-focused precision that’s cut and dry. It’s haunting, terrifying and larger than life. It’s as if Slipknot were this spectral being here to kill you, but slowly… painfully.
“AOV” is driving in the same way the members of Amon Amarth are just kind of vikings. The combination of double bass and percussive attacks on the downbeats give the song a militaristic stomping quality while guitars simply drive like tanks through your speakers and keyboards sound the air raid sirens as if it were the end of days. There’s a big hooky chorus that pops up between the bursts of violence that’s going to get stuck in your head, and that’s just the first half of the song. What surprised me was the interlude toward the middle of the track.
During the interlude, the majority of the band fades off and featured prominently, providing the melody aside from a tinkling piano and dreamy, swirling guitars, is the bassist. I’d go as far as calling this a bass solo. It’s melodious and has a sense of direction in that it touches on what the guitars are doing in the background but doesn’t stick to them. With the band still mourning former bassist Paul Gray, I wasn’t sure if this was going to be Slipknot’s …And Justice For All.
It is not.
Read more at Metal Injection.